In taste and bad taste. To answer the main

            In
the literal sense, taste normally refers to gustation or an individual´s
capability of detecting the flavours of food and drink (Cambridge English
Dictionary, n.d.). Nonetheless, in terms of sociological study, there is not
any consensus on the definition of ´taste´. On one hand, it is defined as an
activity which is related to socio-cultural context, rather than as an individual matter of internal reflection (Højlund,
2015, p.1). On the other hand, according to Alain de Botton, taste is one´s personal
preferences in choosing cultural products (Mitchell, 2015). However, it can be
said that both of these definitions are related to the concept of aesthetics
because the distinctive thoughts about what is beautiful and what is ugly always
exist in everyone´s mind, hence leading to a particular taste for a specific cultural
object. As a result, this brings about a question in regard to the normative criticism
on what should be called good taste and bad taste.
            To
answer the main question which is what is bad taste, I am going to elaborate more
on it by starting with a concrete example of what I believe to be considered as
bad taste. It is the situation where a wide range of neo-pop art pieces which
were created by artist Jeff Koons gained massive commercial success in art
market while simultaneously being dismissed as kitsch and lack of creativity by
many art-educated elites. About Jeff Koons, he is known as one of the most
well-known contemporary artists for turning domestic objects into art or
reproducing banal objects. For example, the Balloon Dog which belongs to
Celebration series , is a stainless steel sculpture with transparent color
coating. In fact, the Balloon Dog was sold at an auction for 58 million
dollars, a record amount for a living artist (Brockes, 2015). Nevertheless, it
is negatively evaluated by art critic Michael Kimmelman from The New York Times:
´´Just when it looked as if
the 80’s were finally over, Jeff Koons has provided one last, pathetic gasp of
the sort of self-promoting hype and sensationalism that characterized the worst
of the decade.´´ (Kimmelman, 1991).
            Returning
to the concepts of good taste and bad taste, it is inevitable not to mention Immanuel
Kant´s argument on theirs definitions. He claims that they all depend on
subjective feelings, there are no standards to base on and judge what is to be
considered good taste and bad taste (Ginsborg, 2005). By contrast, the French sociologist
Bourdieu argues that there is indeed distinction in cultural consumption and it
is displayed by social classes in his distinction theory, which implies
argument against Kant´s one (Jenkins, 2014). The distinction theory refers to
members of upper classes using their superior cultural knowledge to draw symbolic
boundaries and legitimize their own cultural tastes