Understanding Good Taste
Thom Filicia is an interior designer, most famous for his role as an interior design expert on the television program "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" on the Bravo network. Filicia established his own design firm in 1998 and since then has completed residential and commercial work around the country, as well as designing the U.S. Pavilion at the 2005 World's Fair in Japan. In 2006 he was chosen as one of House Beautiful magazine's Top 100 American Designers and House & Garden magazine's Top 50 "Tastemakers."
Question: What is good taste?
Thom Filicia: I almost think that taste at a certain level is, I mean, it’s kind of an emotional experience. So I think fundamentally what good taste is about is, you know, creating something that’s harmonious or that’s comfortable, or that’s appealing that’s almost a reaction or an emotional connection to something.
So I do think that as people we gravitate towards things that are pleasing or that are what – in my book I talk a lot about balance and I talk about when things are inviting. So I do think that good taste at a certain level is really just understanding, you know, the human element in it. Understanding what is attractive and what is comforting to people. And then I think what – then taking that to the next level once you have a good handle on that I think good taste is about being able to take what is truly inviting to people and comforting to people, and appealing to people and then making it fascinating, and interesting.
And then making people really kind of think that it’s special and that it’s unusual and interesting, and even more appealing. So I do think that it’s such a subjective question but I think it’s more of an emotion than it is an actual factual thing. And I think that’s what makes it sort of mysteries and makes it very appealing to people is that the concept of good taste, you know, we’re trained by society to understand what’s in good taste and what’s in bad taste. But generally the taste makers of any generation have always been the people who have pushed the envelope and has recreated the concept or the idea of what’s really in great taste.
I would say sometimes I think manners get sort of mixed up with what sort of defines good taste and I think that’s sort of the learned fundamental. And I think sometimes when you’re very proficient at anything you then are able to look at it holistically and then actually push it a little bit further. I think when people are – when they’re less connected to a concept or an idea they’re intimidated by it and therefore they kind of follow it as opposed to lead it. So I think when you talk about taste or taste makers they’re generally people who have a great understanding of the social requirements but are able to sort of play with it and push it a little bit further.
I also think what defines great taste is also understanding that you can’t define it and understanding that a lot of, you know, on my show I always say – people say, “Oh my God, I can’t believe I’m on Tacky House” or they don’t think they’re on Tacky House in the beginning. They think their room is fabulous and their husband or wife can’t deal with or best friend, or somebody. They sort of bring them to me as an intervention and I say, “Well you’re not on My Awesome Room, you’re on Tacky House.” And they’re generally like, “Oh my God, I cannot believe what room in my house is tacky.”
And I always say, “Tacky is not the worst thing or bad taste is not the worst thing. No taste or a really boring or dull room, something that’s a void of any esthetic is worse because at least you’ve committed to something and you’re willing to go to a certain place. Now we just kind of have let, you know, you just have to dial it back and refine it a little bit.” So I think the idea – some of the most interesting spaces, I would say more public spaces certainly, you know, night spots and things like that, sometimes the more, you know, more in bad taste they are, sometimes the more interesting they are to people because it’s a different experience.
Question: What’s the biggest sign of bad taste?
Thom Filicia: That’s a fun question. I would say I think that – well there’s a variety of different ways that, that can sort of that, that can work. I would say, you know, things that people do that they think are really tasteful – I mean, I would just say in general I think one of the things that people do that they think is sort of tasteful which is the worst has a lot to do with snobbier. I think when people put themselves in their mind in a certain place whether it’s interior or clothing or their cars or their jewelry, whatever it is that people decide defines them.
And I think they put too much value on it. And I think to me that is truly – I think that’s generally that’s the real formula for bad taste. You know, and I think when someone is walking around through life and everything around them is a representation is who they are as a – and they’ve taken all the focus off of themselves. I think that’s kind of – that’s the foundation I think of bad taste.
Recorded August 4, 2010
Interviewed by Max Miller
Tacky is not the worst thing in the world—it’s better to have bad taste than to have no taste at all.
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Poland has become an increasingly unwelcoming place for the LGBTQ community. 50 diplomats hope to change that.
- An open letter, signed by 50 ambassadors and NGO leaders, asked the Polish government to respect LGBT rights.
- The Polish Government responded by denying the implied discrimination exists.
- Poland has been deemed the "worst place to be gay" in the EU in spite of this.
Strongly worded letters, the weapon of champions.<p> Organized by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium in Poland, the <a href="https://pl.usembassy.gov/open_letter/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">open</a> <a href="https://pl.usembassy.gov/open_letter/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">letter</a> was signed by the Ambassadors of 43 nations representing most of Europe and all of continental North America, as well as several countries from Asia, Africa, and South America. Representatives of various international organizations, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, also signed. </p><p>The letter pays tribute to those working for LGBT+ rights in Poland and affirms the dignity found in each person "as expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights." It goes on to remind the reader that "respect for these fundamental rights, which are also enshrined in OSCE commitments and the obligations and standards of the Council of Europe and the European Union as communities of rights and values, obliges governments to protect all citizens from violence and discrimination and to ensure they enjoy equal opportunities."</p><p>It ends with the declaration, "Human rights are universal and everyone, including LGBT+ persons, are entitled to their full enjoyment. This is something that everyone should support."</p><p>The American Ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, <a href="https://twitter.com/USAmbPoland/status/1310276250993405954?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1310276250993405954%7Ctwgr%5Eshare_3&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.them.us%2Fstory%2F50-countries-sign-letter-condemning-polands-lgbt-free-zones" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">retweeted</a> the letter and added, "Human Rights are not an ideology - they are universal. 50 Ambassadors and Representatives agree." </p>
The Response of the Polish Government<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EBthKt2Of9U" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p>The Polish Government was less than pleased with the letter and its implications. <br> <br> The Prime Minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki, rejected the letter and its implications, saying "nobody needs to teach us tolerance, because we are a nation that has learned such tolerance for centuries and we have given many testimonies to the history of such tolerance."<strong></strong></p><p><strong> </strong>This sort of rebuttal is nothing new; just last week, when American Presidential Candidate Joe Biden <a href="https://twitter.com/JoeBiden/status/1307831910089990144" target="_blank">tweeted </a>that "LGBT-free zones' have no place in the European Union or anywhere in the world," the <a href="https://wyborcza.pl/7,173236,26327279,polish-embassy-to-biden-no-lgbt-free-zones-exist-in-poland.html?disableRedirects=true" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Polish Embassy in the United States </a>was quick to say the tweet was based on inaccurate information, to reassure the world that there are no such zones, and to restate their belief there is no place for discrimination in society. <br> </p><p>A quick fact check demonstrates otherwise. Several places in Poland have declared themselves to be "<a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-54191344" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">LGBT free zones,</a>" violence inspired by anti-LGBT+ propaganda has taken <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/27/world/europe/gay-pride-march-poland-violence.html?action=click&module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">place</a>, l<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/30/world/europe/LGBT-free-poland-EU-funds.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">eading government figures</a> have declared homosexuality to be a "threat to Polish identity, to our nation, to its existence and thus to the Polish state," and the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda has declared the LGBT movement to be more dangerous than <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-54317902" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Communism</a><a href="https://theconversation.com/how-a-gender-conspiracy-theory-is-spreading-across-the-world-133854" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">. Surveys</a> show nearly a third of Poland's people believe in a grand conspiracy against them involving "<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-gender_movement" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">gender ideology.</a>"</p><p>It is also worth repeating that Poland has been declared the worst place in the European Union for <a href="https://notesfrompoland.com/2020/05/14/poland-ranked-as-worst-country-in-eu-for-lgbt-people/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">gay</a> <a href="https://notesfrompoland.com/2020/05/14/poland-ranked-as-worst-country-in-eu-for-lgbt-people/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">rights</a>. Same-sex unions of any kind, including civil unions, are still illegal, and gay couples have no right to adopt children. Laws against hate crimes and conversion therapy are also notoriously lacking. Though to their credit, gay men and bisexuals can donate blood in Poland with greater ease then they can in the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_donation_restrictions_on_men_who_have_sex_with_men#Europe" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United States. </a> </p><p>Despite having a first-hand understanding of the dangers of authoritarianism and intolerance than most nations, some in Poland continue to use the LGBT+ community as a boogeyman. While it is not the first time such things have been done, perhaps it will be one of the last. </p>
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90,000 years ago, a young girl lived in a cave in the Altai mountains in southern Siberia. Her life was short; she died in her early teens, but she stands at a unique point in human evolution. She is the first known hybrid of two different kinds of ancient humans: the Neanderthals and the Denisovans.
What do we want to do with convicted criminals? Penology has several philosophies waiting to answer that question.
- What is the purpose of punishing a convicted criminal supposed to be? It depends on which philosophy you prescribe to.
- None of these ideas are without their detractors, or qualifying evidence.
- As the United States grapples with criminal justice reform, the arguments each philosophy has behind it will have to be considered.