Stop Me If You Think.. Oh.

OK last Sunday Times post for a while. After this one I’ll be purged. Liam Fay (article here) bemoans the fact that two second-generation Irish professors of cultural studies in British universities have taken it upon themselves to organise a symposium in Manchester on the Smiths. Apparently one of them is writing a

‘treatise on the influence of second-generation Irish artists on English music, with reference to the Smiths, John Lydon, Elvis Costello, Shane MacGowan etc.’

I have always thought that this would be an interesting enough topic for a second-generation Irish person in England to analyse – not forgetting Dusty Springfield and Dexy’s Midnight Runners. And criticising a cultural studies professor for studying apparently whimsical aspects of popular culture is a bit like railing against binmen for collecting your rubbish. But Liam Fay is not impressed.

Ignoring that these are second-generation Irishmen living and working in England, and may be somewhat English as well, he wonders:

’However, a more useful academic study should be undertaken into why so many Irish scholars are so eager to attribute bogus nationalistic depth to stylish cultural surfaces. In the wise words of a Smiths classic, what difference does it make?

The answer in both the song, and in reality is, of course, that it makes none. Or at least precious little to those outside of Cultural Studies departments. However, I’m not too sure where the ‘bogus nationalistic depth’ bit is. Hogwash such as ‘The Irish Mind’ or ‘Wherever Green Is Worn’ or whatever is definitely worth ignoring, but the success of second-generation Irish musicians in England is an easily identifiable instance of where British and Irish cultures overlap and inform each other. Hardly deserving of the disdain assigned here.

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