Tuesday, 16 February 2010


A couple of days ago I wrote something incoherent about the nature of my taste in popular culture and was somewhat disparaging of what I call bland. So here is, I hope, something a little more considered and a little more specific about what I consider bland to be.

First off, bland is not neccessarily a bad thing. Bland does not equate with bad, it's just bland, and not-bland doesn't equate with good, it's just not bland. Sometimes it's nice to relax to something which is very accessible and requires little thought. You can chill out to bland. What bugs me is when people prefer bland to not-bland and whose cultural diet consists almost solely of bland. This is not a good thing, people.

So, what is bland?

Pretty much everything on daytime tv: animal programs, moving abroad, magazine shows, cooking, repeats of British and American crime shows like Poirot, Miss Marple, Murder She Wrote, Midsommer Murders. Early evening tv, particularly on weekdays, tends to be bland. Let's go concrete. Merlin is bland, Dr. Who isn't. Strictly Come Dancing is, So You Think You Can Dance isn't. Waterloo Road (despite this being one of my favourite series) is, Glee isn't (just -I want to see a plotline about Kurt dating a closeted jock before being certain). Vampire Diaries is, Buffy never was. The Sookie Stackhouse books (charming but) are, True Blood (the tv series on which they're based) isn't.

Books. Cosy British detectives novels by Agatha Christie and Dick Francis are, P.D. James isn't. Spinoff novels (from stuff like Star Trek, Star Wars, Buffy ad infinitum) are, true SF novels aren't (this last is admittedly a very broad generalisation). Anything inspired by Tolkein is, the original Howard Conan stories aren't. Star Trek the tv series (except for DS9) are, Battlestar Galactica (the remake) isn't.

Pop music tends to be (Take That), Rock music tends not to be (Neil Young). And in a similar vein CSN are, CSNY aren't. Back to the 60's: The Tremeloes are, The Hollies aren't. Truthfully I can't think of many musical examples because the bland stuff doesn't usually impinge on my awareness.

Are we clear now?

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