Wednesday, September 26, 2012

today ends at midnight

A conversation I recently had with someone about life as an artist/writer/creative type reminded me of Salon's Art in Crisis series, specifically this article about the lack of sympathy for, or even coverage of, how the "creative class" is handling the shitty economy (i.e. we're all going broke).

I don't think too many artists are looking for sympathy, per se, but the least America could do is not go into apoplexy about "useless liberal arts majors" every time it's mentioned that we're struggling as much as farmers and tradesmen and everyone else. Even business and hard science majors can't find work these days, and those were the fields of study that were celebrated as examples of sober-headed longterm careerism when I was in undergrad, which wasn't even all that long ago.

What's weird about America's Puritanical disdain for the arts is that our hegemonic entertainment industry (born, of course, from the performing arts) is the only thing about us that the rest of the world actually likes, and one of the few remaining things we really like about ourselves, to be honest. Our music, films, literature, and the culture surrounding them have done a better job talking up the best parts of America than any politician or policy in the last 30 years, and mass-distributed entertainment is raking in money. And yet there's still this huge disconnect between pop culture and the very artistic, unquantifiable processes that bring it to life.

What's really frustrating is that any discussion on art, even my take on it, is based on potential profit, on upfront cost and possible return, rather than art's actual value. There's no other dialogue you can have on this topic that will be taken even halfway seriously, which sucks. I think that has to change before anything else can.

1 comment:

  1. When I was in Ireland, every film showing in both Armagh and Dublin was American. A good 90% of the music we heard was American. But, I would argue that there's a line between entertainment and art, and that the industry has lost a lot of quality/artistic merit in the past few decades specifically. For movies (and to a degree, music) it's become a competition of special effects and remakes, largely, rather than an attempt at original concepts or new ideas. This isn't to say that quality entertainment isn't being produced, but it's not getting the same attention.

    Our literatary scene overseas (again, I can only speak for Ireland) is, based on what I saw in the used bookstores, being represented by Twilight and James Patterson. For music, they love Justin Beiber. I see what you're getting at with our entertainment industry evolving from the arts, but I would argue that they've diverged in a lot of ways, so America's disconnect isn't terribly surprising, unfortunately.