Same job, different uniform.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Edge of Enjoyment

Popular culture is a letdown. It makes a lot of claims to artistic bravery, but it owns nothing. A lot of pretty, talented browned bodies playing in mud puddles when they might be riding the surf.

There is no lack of vocal talent. There are plenty with excellent voices or solid range. It's that their talent is shrink-wrapped in a mixture of synthesizers, drums and electric guitar. The Grammys are over and I am left thirsting for better sound.

Pop culture survives by recognizing, sometimes designing and always cultivating, trends. Husky, consonant-less voices accompanied by the monotone strum of the electric guitar fill the airwaves. On screen, hairless-chested bipeds, brooding and desirable with vacant stares and gender identity issues court full-lipped waifs, shoulders slumped forward, with impossibly good jobs and families but no knowledge of Self.

There is no lack of dramatic talent; even our city is full of it. It's that artistic bravery is so rarely seen we've almost begun not to recognize it. Large, obtrusive performances that never please are what audiences crave. Self restraint is backstage.

What I see and hear displeases me. Give us fuller, richer melodies that won't leave us; powerful, meaningful performances by skilled actors at the hands of respectful, patient directors; the power in simple, declarative sentences.

Don't appease our bad taste; defy us. We are bad writers; be wittier. Our conversations are stilted, dull; enrich them.

"One may have a blazing hearth in one's soul" said Van Gogh, "and yet no one ever comes to sit by it."

Don't take us to the edge, push us over it. Leave trends to shoemakers and re-introduce us to Art that descends Time.

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Blogger Unknown said...

I concur. I might add that we are too often caught up in the Next Big Thing to realize or appreciate that new does not necessarily mean better. Artistry does not require finding a new way to speak or write or paint; what is required is a unique artistic perspective on that which we already have observed. It is useful to remember that Shakespeare borrowed plots and stories unapologetically from writers such as Raphael Holinshed and Euripedes (among others), contributing his own inimitable talents to produce timeless art.
Beethoven applied his own astonishing talents to an existing art form with coherent rules and motifs, and while his melodies are often borrowed or simplistic, his genius bent them, transformed them, into treasures of human ingenuity. And that is truly the sort of thing we should expect of our "artists."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Blogger Unknown said...

Hear! Hear! Two simple examples: my 14 year old son's English class studied Romeo and Juliet. He could read, understand and refused the Cliff's Notes of the play. He was also disappointed in the pop version of the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. Another example, same kid: he went with to a communitiy play and was the only one of the group that really enjoyed it. I got the sense that it was the real acting, the originality, the artistry of bringing something to the stage that impressed him. He may be a teenager, but he's artistic and sensitive. Maybe so few have been exposed to true culture that pop culture is what they know and create. I took a friend to the museum once that didn't realize that the artwork was authentic.

I find I can be satisfied with live performances - theater, symphony, or concerts given by original and talented artists. My son and I seem to have this striving to the next level or area from a jumping off point. Exploring the nooks and crannies of a writing or music genre, an area of history, or a current event keeps us challenged and we hopefully avoid getting stuck.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Blogger Lois E. Lane said...

So this is what you were doing last night at 6:30 ... :) Well-said. I coulnd't agree more. I actually thought the Grammys did a good job of rewarding substance this year. Oh, and I do think Baz Luhrman's telling of "Romeo and Juliet" was superb.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Blogger Ibid said...

Oui oui. Why would one worship mediocrity except as a nod to the god within?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Blogger girlfriday said...

Mocove: Your son sounds like the kind of guy every girl wishes she had around in high school. (Though,like Lois, I enjoyed the Lerhman interpretation of Romeo a la "a unique artistic perspective on that which we already have observed."

Thursday, February 16, 2006


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