20 Nibits of cultural info to hide the fact you're a shallow & self-obsessed X Factor fan

Written by sue smith | 13/05/2017
20 Nibits of cultural info to hide the fact you're a shallow & self-obsessed X Factor fan
Wandering around a gallery trying to look thoughtful isn't everyone's idea of fun. (Getty Premium images)

Keeping up with culture may seem like a full-time job, and at the end of a week's proper work you could definitely be forgiven for just wanting to slump in front of whatever's on telly. However, feigning an interest in all things arty needn't take up too much time or effort. Armed with a few key bits of cultural knowledge, you'll have your workmates fooled into thinking you're a serious culture vulture in no time.

\#20 Almost all of the best films ever made are not in English

20 Nibits of cultural info to hide the fact you're a shallow & self-obsessed X Factor fan
(Getty Premium images)

Sure, subtitles may seem like too much hassle, after all, if you look away from the screen you might end up not having a clue what's going on. However, it goes without saying that many of the best films to see are world films, most of which are not English-language. If you're trying to fake a little world film knowledge, director names to drop include Ozu, Fellini, Bergman and Kurosawa.

Related: 15 Must see Hispanic films

\#19 There's more to stand-up comedy than Michael McIntyre

20 Nibits of cultural info to hide the fact you're a shallow & self-obsessed X Factor fan
(Hulton Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

If you want to give the impression that you're really into stand-up comedy, you'd better know more than the comics you see on Saturday night telly. A quick trip around the top results on YouTube for Stewart Lee and Jerry Sadowitz, plus related videos, will get you up to speed with the best in UK stand-up. US counterparts include Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, Bill Hicks, and more recent contenders Chris Rock and Louis CK.

Related: 15 Reasons why the Internet has ruined your life

\#18 The US TV drama renaissance started over a decade ago

20 Nibits of cultural info to hide the fact you're a shallow & self-obsessed X Factor fan
Vincent Kartheiser's Pete Campbell is one of Mad Men's most notorious characters. (Taylor Hill/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

American telly has raised the bar in the years since the turn of the millennium. Early influencers included the West Wing and Six Feet Under. Must-know shows since then include The Wire, Deadwood and Breaking Bad. Mad Men is obligatory viewing if you want to pretend you care about quality TV, so make sure you can at least mention a few of the leading characters by name.

\#17 You can tell a lot about classical music from the instruments

20 Nibits of cultural info to hide the fact you're a shallow & self-obsessed X Factor fan
You don't have to don a black tie to hear a bit of classical music. (Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

There really is no easy way to fake an interest in classical music easily, it's just too complex. However, you can learn to tell a few basic facts about a piece of classical music just by listening to the instruments playing in it, including a rough period and even a guess at the composer if you read up just a little about the subject.

\#16 Kubrick's films span the genres

20 Nibits of cultural info to hide the fact you're a shallow & self-obsessed X Factor fan
Kirk Douglas starred in Kubrick's classic war film Paths of Glory. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

If you want to create the impression that you're a film lover, you'll make a good start if you can at least name most of the films made by Stanley Kubrick. These films span multiple genres, including horror, war, comedy and sci-fi. If nothing else, at least mention 2001 A Space Odyssey, one of the most spell-binding and mystifying films you'll see and one people tend to be awe-struck by.

Related: 10 Film plots that actually came true

\#15 The best Draculas were black and white

20 Nibits of cultural info to hide the fact you're a shallow & self-obsessed X Factor fan
It may be old, but Nosferatu will still send a shiver up your spine. (Hulton Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Dracula has been represented more times than most fictional characters in films. Any real film lover will rate a couple of the older adaptations highest, best of all being Nosferatu. With director FW Murnau, Max Schrek's vampire was based on Bram Stoker's monster but was renamed Count Orlok in the film.

Related: 13 Must-see vampire movies

\#14 Modern and contemporary are not the same

20 Nibits of cultural info to hide the fact you're a shallow & self-obsessed X Factor fan
Both modern and contemporary art can be mystifying, but don't have to be. (Fuse/Fuse/Getty Images)

When it comes to visual art, you'd be forgiven for thinking modern art and contemporary art were one and the same, but you'd be very wrong. One definition classes everything from the late 19th to mid 20th century as modern and everything after the Second World War as contemporary. In reality the classifications are more complex and subject to much debate, but keep those periods in mind and you won't go too far wrong.

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\#13 "Rosebud" isn't necessarily a gardening reference

20 Nibits of cultural info to hide the fact you're a shallow & self-obsessed X Factor fan
Orson Welles is a key character for any film-lover. (Hulton Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

In what is routinely referred to as one of the greatest films ever made, Citizen Kane, "Rosebud" is the last word of the central character and hook for one of the most influential plotlines in movie history. The great Orson Welles wrote, directed and starred in this film, which is a must on any successful fake cultural knowledge list.

Related: 10 Films you must see before you die

\#12 Who killed Laura Palmer

20 Nibits of cultural info to hide the fact you're a shallow & self-obsessed X Factor fan
Ray Wise plays Leland Palmer in Twin Peaks. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

Being, or pretending to be, a David Lynch fan is a fast-track to cultural respectability. As well as the handful of equally baffling, unique, funny, scary and beautiful feature films, the director also made one of the strangest TV series of all time in Twin Peaks. If you don't know who killed Laura Palmer yet you better find out quick if you're going to convince anyone.

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\#11 Godot isn't coming

20 Nibits of cultural info to hide the fact you're a shallow & self-obsessed X Factor fan
A trip to the theatre isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it's worth it for the tiny tub of ice-cream. (Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

If you're not a regular theatre-goer, or if your only annual drama outing is for the Christmas panto, you can hardly fake knowledge of Shakespeare's complete works. If you're looking for one respectable drama reference, you could do worse than Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot. The play is a dark comedy, and if you can't be bothered reading or watching it, the clue is in the title.

Related: Top 10 British playwrights of all time

\#10 We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars

20 Nibits of cultural info to hide the fact you're a shallow & self-obsessed X Factor fan
"To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness." (Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

If you're looking for a sure-fire route to cultural credibility, throw in an Oscar Wilde quote once in a while. You don't even have to bother reading or attending any of his plays either, since luckily he left us plenty of easy to remember quotations, many of which act as withering insults your workmates won't forget in a hurry.

\#9 Post-Modernism isn't about irony

20 Nibits of cultural info to hide the fact you're a shallow & self-obsessed X Factor fan
Lady Gaga's music and style are frequently described as post-modern. (Larry Busacca/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

The perception that, if something is done ironically that makes it post-modern, is a commonly held one, but there's more to post-modernism than that. Broadly speaking post-modernism defines art following modernism, with plenty of pop culture examples including Lady Gaga, lots of hip hop and dance music, not to mention Tarantino films.

\#8 Woody Allen one liners

20 Nibits of cultural info to hide the fact you're a shallow & self-obsessed X Factor fan
Woody Allen's on-screen persona falls somewhere between fantasy and reality. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

Woody Allen's films are another great shortcut to cultural capital. Like Oscar Wilde, you don't even need to watch all of the films to bluff your way through the subject, since Allen has been responsible for a host of excellent one-liners, such as "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work, I want to achieve it by not dying."

\#7 Rory Bremner isn't the only Impressionist

20 Nibits of cultural info to hide the fact you're a shallow & self-obsessed X Factor fan
Like most great artists, Van Gogh can't be defined by a single genre. (Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Once ubiquitous in the form of prints, Impressionist paintings might have become a little passe in recent years, but knowing your way around the associated movements will make people see you as a real visual art expert. For example, Van Gogh is known as a post-impressionist, and his work paved the way for subsequent movements, particularly expressionism.

\#6 Tarantino's global influences

20 Nibits of cultural info to hide the fact you're a shallow & self-obsessed X Factor fan
Tarantino doesn't feel the need to veil references to the films he loves. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

Everyone loves a Quentin Tarantino film, but if you want to move beyond enjoying the ride, you could do worse than learning a few of the director's influences, of which there are many. Tarantino wears his influences on his sleeve, with many of his films including direct references to films by directors including Martin Scorsese and Sergio Leone.

\#5 Powell and Pressburger isn't a fast food chain

20 Nibits of cultural info to hide the fact you're a shallow & self-obsessed X Factor fan
Martin Scorsese has been involved in restoring the films of Powell and Pressburger. (Michael Buckner/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

If you want to fashion yourself as a bit of a film buff, gaining some knowledge about the films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger will get you off to a convincing start. From The Red Shoes, one of the most influential films of all time, to Black Narcissus and A Matter of Life and Death, these are all films regularly cited by other directors to this day.

\#4 What happened to Gregor Samsa

20 Nibits of cultural info to hide the fact you're a shallow & self-obsessed X Factor fan
Whether or not Gregor Samsa became an insect has been subject of much debate among translators. (Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

When it comes to highly regarded writers, they don't come much better than Franz Kafka. The most famous of Kafka's works is the short story, The Metamorphosis. With various translations from German, the story begins by explaining that one morning Gregor Samsa awoke to find he had been transformed into a giant insect. Throw in the phrase "magic realism" and you'll fool anyone.

Related: Every wannabe's favourite clichéd book and what it says about them

\#3 Scorsese Peasy

20 Nibits of cultural info to hide the fact you're a shallow & self-obsessed X Factor fan
Robert De Niro has featured in multiple Scorsese films. (Ken Ishii/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

Another reliable indicator of movie fandom is an interest in Martin Scorsese. As well as his own films which were under-appreciated in the film-making establishment for a long time, the director has made substantial contributions to film in general, particularly through his involvement in film restoration and preservation.

Related: 10 Notorious film directors that treat actors like dirt

\#2 Daft Punk made lots of music before Get Lucky

20 Nibits of cultural info to hide the fact you're a shallow & self-obsessed X Factor fan
Daft Punk try to avoid being seen without their helmets on. (Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

If Summer 2013 was the first time Daft Punk entered your awareness, you'd better do some Homework fast (Homework was their first album, in 1997). The French electro-pop duo have produced four albums in total. With some of the catchiest, most upbeat tunes you'll hear, this is one respectable cultural interest you might actually enjoy getting into.

Related: 20 Moments that changed modern music forever

\#1 All that Jazz

20 Nibits of cultural info to hide the fact you're a shallow & self-obsessed X Factor fan
Not all jazz is free-form, sometimes you can even recognise a tune. (Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

If you want anyone to believe you know about music, you will have to pretend to know something about jazz. Since most if not all of popular music since the last century can be traced back to jazz, a little familiarity with the big names and numbers goes a long way. If all else fails, just mention Louis Armstrong.

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