Monday, 6 December 2010

Art for arts sake money for god’s sake

After spending a couple of days sofa bound with the flu I have read and watched a lot of stuff that required little of me in way of effort or concentration. My befuddled brain could not concentrate on anything of great substance. This has raised the question;
What has become of the mainstream?

Every artistic or creative endeavour has a mainstream element. Generally looked down upon, but still valid. Example; the films of Ingmar Bergman compared to the films of Steven Spielberg. Bob Dylan compared to Abba. Monsieur Hulot’s holiday compared to The Nutty Professor (original).
For example the mainstream once had Eastenders as effective serial drama. In it’s heyday it was very watchable. Not anymore. Was the Generation game more enjoyable than the X Factor is now in terms of Saturday night TV? Hard to say, but the Generation game was not based on premium rate phone calls downloads and merchandising. It also had a level of spontaneity that is absent in the current prime time world. The mainstream cinema experience is full of formulaic dross hiding behind concept over content. No more the days of a summer blockbuster actually being an enjoyable 120 minutes in the dark.

To say the mainstream has been dumbed down is simplistic. I still like the mainstream when it works as much as the deeper creative world. The problem is that there are so many more limitations, rules and structures around creating a mainstream product, that the very creativity that would give life to good ideas is stifled by focus groups, marketability at all costs and decisions of graduates who have studied commerce as much as they have art.
Highfalutin ideas about the intrinsic worth of high art over popular art are nonsense. But the argument is getting more and more sensible by the year. It’s a generalisation but most creativity is about the process and the end result above the cash. That’s the starting point of anything good. Realism means that bills have to be paid but there’s still a concept that holds true; don’t sell your soul to the devil, but if you do don’t sell it cheaply.  

The mainstream informs the general populace and when the mainstream has nothing to say, has no heart , has no soul, it has as much spiritual nutrition as a box of generic fried chicken

art for arts sake’

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having said that;