Tyler Cowen’s Snobbery

A recent squabble over Slumdog Millionaire‘s relative merits has prompted Cowen to expand his thoughts on movies. At first Cowen’s eclecticism seems impressive. He regularly flaunts his knowledge of obscure novels and songs and movies and travel destinations and restaurants and weaknesses in your arguments. But upon further reflection, you can’t help but notice how…conservative his tastes run.  By his cataloguing, he wants to signal how open to experiences he is, especially to his staid colleagues in economics, but in general his recommendations read like the syllabus at Williams College circa 1979: the more European, the better, the more apathetic the protagonist, the more abstract the import, the better, the more the story spins its tires in the anti-plot, Hallelujah! All of which may impress classical economists, but really you can’t help wondering how this intellectual status jockeying doesn’t lose its verve after a while. But Cowen plugs on. He says: 

My problem with movies is simple.  I can read faster than some people, but I can’t watch a movie faster than anyone.  So the relative price of movie-watching for me is high (the marginal utility of books does not for me decline rapidly) and often I need the big screen to hold my interest.

The nut: Cowen enjoys reading books more than watching movies because he can read more of them than you. What snobbery! Never mind that the two media have two entirely different effects…



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3 responses to “Tyler Cowen’s Snobbery

  1. Sarah

    Sounds like me! Just kidding…

  2. Arne Jensen

    [I have read a lot. Therefore] I read faster than other people. This makes reading more stimulating for me. How is saying that snobbish?

    Are you mad because his blog is more popular than yours?

  3. The Drunken Priest

    I am an admirer of Marginal Revolution and Tyler Cowen. So no, I’m not mad. His blog should be more popular than mine.

    But if you read MR, you notice from time to time that Cowen likes to play the fox. The scope of his reading does impress me. As does his cultural knowledge. I thought I’d play fox this one time. That is all.

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