High: Springsteen on Broadway, by Bruce Springsteen

Yes, it opened in 2017, but a film version just became available on Netflix. It is a remarkable, bare bones two-and-a-half hour performance. Alone on the stage (except for two duets with his wife), armed only with an acoustic guitar or piano, Springsteen offers the story of his life, along with reflections on family, selfhood, politics, rock’n’roll and storytelling. He’s never worked in a factory and lives a few miles from his childhood home, this born-to-run chronicler of blue-collar blues acknowledges. Cultural-appropriation critics who insist that you can only write about your own experiences should take note. Authenticity is sometimes a function of empathy and imagination, and whether this show is a portrait of the artist or a portrait of the artist’s persona I cannot say – which is partly why it is so compelling.

Low: #MeToo censorship

The #MeToo movement’s purification of popular culture continues, exemplified most recently and ridiculously in protests against Frank Loesser’s lovely 1944 duet, ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’. The song, a dialogue between a sweet-talking man and the woman he hopes to persuade to spend the night, is now deemed date-rapey by activists who don’t distinguish between a gentle, verbal seduction and coercion. Nor do they hear the voice of the woman who wants to stay, but feels constrained by mid-20th-century double standards. What will the neighbours say, she worries. ‘My sister will be suspicious, my maiden aunt’s mind is vicious’ – just like the excesses of #MeToo.

Wendy Kaminer is an author and spiked columnist.

https://www.spiked-online.com/2018/12/25/our-cultural-highs-and-lows-of-2018/