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Originally, most intellectual criticism of mass culture was ___ in character, being based on the assumption that the wider the appeal, the more ___ the product.
A. unpredictable ... undesirable
B. ironic ... popular
C. extreme ... outlandish
D. frivolous ... superfluous
E. negative ... shoddy

The answer is B. Hope you will help me out. Billions of thanks.
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Well,

The first question should be, which questions do you think the answer could be, and which ones can you rule out?

"wider the appeal" suggests something positive, we can then rule out A, C, and E

Superfluous means "exceeding what is sufficient or necessary". Appeal doesn't have limits. Answer, B. Things can be viewed as popular the wider its appeal becomes.

How about the first word? I would rule out A, E, and D mainly because in the sentence they are addressing not only criticism but intellectual criticism. This suggests to me that there are some standards or set of beliefs that are being adhered to. To be "extreme" means farther from the norm. The wider something becomes in appeal the less extreme it would get. It would get closer to the center. Answer, B.

Looking at the message as a whole, the popularity of things tend have other traits which make them popular aside from intellect. Music for example, you may hear certain music you like that would never be on the top 10 charts. So it is a bit "ironic" to view a product having wide appeal amongst an intelligent group. Currently, Apple has made the Nano. However, there are better mp3 players out there in the market and at a cheaper price. It's the popularity that is driving its appeal as well as the company's name.
Jeff_999Originally, most intellectual criticism of mass culture was ___ in character, being based on the assumption that the wider the appeal, the more ___ the product.
A. unpredictable ... undesirable
B. ironic ... popular
C. extreme ... outlandish
D. frivolous ... superfluous
E. negative ... shoddy

The answer is B. Hope you will help me out. Billions of thanks.
Not A, because if the criticism was based on a particular assumption, it wouldn't have been "unpredictable".

Not B, because i) "being ironic" has no connection with the following assumption ii) "mass" = "wide appeal" = "popular", so the assumption wouldn't be "ironic" iii) most intellectual criticism of mass culture wasn't originally ironic.

Not C, because outlandishness doesn't lend itself to popularity.

Not D, because increasing appeal doesn't mean something's superfluous; nor would criticism of it on that basis be "frivolous".

Can only be E: "negative criticism", because popular items have to be mass-produced, and are thus more likely to be cheap and shoddy.

MrP
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E?

...the wider the appeal, the more shoddy the product? If so, why do companies recall some products or parts and continue to sell others (the fact they aren't all recalled means there are some which aren't shoddy, and the percentage is the same whether or not 1 out of 4 is shoddy or 250 out of 1000 are)? How do things with less appeal have superiority?
Hello W3

The "intellectual's" reasoning would be: "if it's popular, it must be inferior".

Cf. "if it's fast food, it must be junk food". "If it's popular poetry, it must be bad poetry." "If it's a best-seller, it must be rubbish."

MrP
"The 'intellectual's' reasoning would be: 'if it's popular, it must be inferior'."

That is just an assumption. No intellectuals fasten their seatbelt? No intellectuals use forks at restaurants? They are simply held against their will? It's bit of a leap to assume intellectuals behave in a uniform fashion, and some intellectuals are good in one area while being bad in another. You can't make a blanket statement that all intellectuals in general will view art for example to be the same quality (take the Pre-Raphaelites for example).

Cf. "if it's fast food, it must be junk food". "If it's popular poetry, it must be bad poetry." "If it's a best-seller, it must be rubbish."

The reason why fast food is considered junk food is because of its content, not because of its use. The more McDonald's that are spread throughout countries, doesn't mean the quality of their food is becoming worse. There would have to be some third variable causing this.

Popular poetry is not always bad because it is popular. In fact, teachers teach popular poetry in schools because it IS popular. They tend to ignore or be totally unaware of poetry in other countries that are just as good.

I don't think bookstores would stock best-sellers if people thought they were rubbish. The third variable here is demand.
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"Originally, most intellectual criticism of mass culture was negative in character, being based on the assumption that the wider the appeal, the more shoddy the product."

1. This sentence would relate primarily to "mass culture", e.g. popular films, music, books, not "mass-produced goods". Although "product" is used as a (dead) metaphor, in this context (hence the reference to mass production in my answer), we are not meant to take it as a reference to forks and seatbelts.

2. "The wider the appeal, the more shoddy the product" is criticism, and it's negative.

3. "Originally" suggests that the speaker is about to present a description of "later" intellectual criticism. This would no doubt include a reference to postmodernistic appreciation of mass culture.

4. I don't assume intellectuals behave in a uniform fashion. The speaker of the sentence does. Since it's an exercise, we may assume that it's an imaginary speaker, in an imaginary context.

The point of these exercises is not to judge the content. It's to make logical inferences from that content.

MrP
I don't think bookstores would stock best-sellers if people thought they were rubbish.
People who buy best-sellers don't think they're rubbish, presumably. But the sentence doesn't relate to those people. It relates to "intellectuals".

Your reference to the Pre-Raphaelites is quite apposite. Consider the ideas of William Morris, in this context.

As for "demand" being the third variable...You remind me of that fellow who waited outside the green room to give Othello a bloody nose, because of the way he treated his wife.

MrP
"1. This sentence would relate primarily to "mass culture""

What are you defining as mass culture then if not the objects and ideas?

"2. 'The wider the appeal, the more shoddy the product' is criticism, and it's negative.'"

Constructive criticism is negative?
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