- He used this anecdote to argue that we need to stop "siloizing" culture: He went to a Gaugin exhibit at the AGO. At the start of the exhibit there was a quote on the wall from Beaudelaire that he found off-putting, but inside the exhibit "it was all paintings of naked chicks."
- Someone asked him, if he was able to interview Andy Warhol, what would he ask him, and he replied: "When you wake up in the morning, are you Andy Warhol?"
(Before I go on: my ticket also got me into the current exhibit, which was created at TheMuseum and is going to tour the world. It's worth seeing. Called Rethinking Art and Machine, it's really art made of machines, and there's some lovely interactive stuff. The new cafe is worth a visit too.)
All Ghomeshi really talked about was youth and their interest in culture. He spent a lot of time talking about how poor kids in the Phillipines know the lyrics to Justin Bieber songs. He said the goal of Q (now Canada's most successful radio show) was to attract more youth to CBC radio; he said that at the time it started, 70% of CBC listeners were over 50, and "a high percentage of them were over 70." (That's a telling statistic, as when Q started 4 years ago CBC had been dumbing itself down for decades in the vain hope to attract youth.)
Ghomeshi said that the Q team deliberately set out to not dumb down their show. CBC brass told them to keep interviews to 8 minutes because "youth have ADD" but he rejected that advice and does serious, indepth interviews up to 45 minutes long. But of course he's mostly interviewing celebrities and musicians, and his success is largely due to his viral Billy Bob Thornton interview and his movie-star good looks. (He's a very good interviewer, but Eleanor Wachtel and Ralph Benmergui are better, to name two people with lower ratings.)
Ghomeshi also said that when he was on the board of the Stratford Festival the challenge they faced was attracting people between 20 and 50, because kids tended to go to plays on school trips and then not go back till they were old. That was interesting, because the audience at TheMuseum last night fit that demographic: a lot of journalism and fine arts students, and a lot of old people who looked to be (like me) avid CBC listeners. (I have attended Stratford every year from when I was 10 to my current 54, and my prescription for attracting people would have more to do with quality and price than trying to appeal to Justin Bieber fans, but then nobody has asked me to sit on the board.)
I was too young to be a hippie and disdainful/detached (respectively) of disco and punk, so I missed falling into a pop culture stereotype. Ever since the coining of "generation X" we seem to feel a need to categorize an entire generation, when usually the categorization doesn't so much describe a generation as an advertising theme used over several years. As to the popularity of Bieber, when I lived in Africa in the mid-90s you heard Bob Marley and the Beatles everywhere; now the commercial arm of recording studios has a longer reach, is all.
The best part, for me, about Ghomeshi's disappointing talk was that it made me click a link this morning on the New York Times home page, and read this very engaging article about pop culture: Generation Sell. I recommend it - and the Comments section.