Books: The Hierarchy Of Hotness

Taste Is Dead. Long Live Buzz And Marketing

America today is a place where one can study porn at universities, and where we care as much about what Britney Spears is reading as what Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is. In magazines, books, fashion, design and music, it is becoming difficult to distinguish between what used to be considered elite culture and mass culture. We are entering the age, New Yorker writer John Seabrook posits, of Nobrow (Knopf; 215 pages; $23).

Nobrow is that state where buzz is the most important index, where taste no longer has any real meaning and has been replaced by a "hierarchy of hotness." It's the place...

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