On Sun, 29 Aug 2010, Patrick Shirkey wrote:
>> 1. It is probably less likely to be able to effect subconscious in a
Yes indeed, that's why I was thinking it might be best to avoid the
whole idea of sex and aggression per se as being "bad". I think the
best art makes people think outside of their comfort zone, but not
necessarily in any one particular way, or to reach any one particular
conclusion. It's enough to merely get people thinking.
>> 2. It is not a very good idea, all in all. The whole religious
If one really does want to motivate social progress with art, I think
one of the best examples of how to do that might come from the way Mark
Twain treated racism. He started out appearing to agree with his
audience, taking their side. Then he took the approach that if this
attitude is something one should really agree with, then of course the
reader won't mind more and more and more of it. Eventually, some
readers found themselves disgusted with their own attitudes, and didn't
understand why. He just showed them more of themselves than they could
The reason I like that approach is because at no point during the
process does the artist directly condemn. It's just a mirror held up
for you to see yourself. If it's really such a pretty thing, then
surely you won't mind looking at a whole lot of it.
> I hear what you are saying. My counter argument is that I wonder if it
I think actually we're a little too late for that. *Is* music really
the dominant media anymore? You know, the teen and college age groups
mock the bands that are on the airwaves these days more than we do. I'm
pretty sure the dominant media these days is the Internet, mainly the
social media sites.
When Viacom first acquired MTV and put Judy McGrath in charge, they were
acquiring a TV network which, for teen and college age viewers, was more
important than radio, more important than prime time shows, probably
more important than any other media outlet at the time. MTV's previous
management (before Viacom) had achieved the dream every broadcaster had
always wished for since the dawn of television: Kids kept it on every
hour they were home and awake. It was like a kind of video wallpaper.
It was on when you were watching it, it was on when your attention was
off on something else. It was on during the commercials and the bands
you didn't like, and it was still on when something you wanted to see
came on. It motivated spending on things that had nothing to do with
the actual programming. In the history of television, nobody had *ever*
succeeded in getting an audience to watch their network during all
waking hours that they were near a TV. Kids in communities that didn't
have it on their cable lineup even got their parents to specially
request it until the local cable company gave in.
In the course of just a few years, Viacom managed to make their own
network culturally irrelevant. They took all the genres people wanted
to see (metal, wave/alternative, rap) and broke them out into specialty
programs (Headbangers Ball, 120 Minutes, Yo MTV Raps, etc). Instead of
the free-for-all pop music used to be when these genres all competed
together in the same airwaves for the same charts (which was probably
very good for everyone, diversity-wise), we now had little 2-hour blocks
for each style, leaving the mainstream pop charts open for such
awe-inspiring head-trips as Whitney Houston, Gloria Estafan, and MC
Hammer. Good pop music had become "specialty" programming, which didn't
live very long disconnected from the life support of mainstream
broadcasting. The mainstream charts were then left as a big crap bin.
Then of course came the game shows, the politics shows, the fashion
shows, and eventually, the horrid reality shows. In fact, MTV recently
announced that they officially no longer have anything to do with music,
and that (humorously) they themselves no longer know what the "M" in MTV
actually stands for. People had been saying that in jest for about
twenty years, but this was official, and they actually said so. They
even downsized the "M" in their logo, as if ashamed of the fact that it
didn't actually mean anything anymore. The "M" just stands for "M".
The current generation is used to this, perceives it as a norm, and
doesn't expect any different. They're all busy with MySpace, Twitter,
and Facebook, and enough mobile devices to fill a small house. I don't
think music is really the dominant media outlet anymore. Viacom had
that right in their pocket once, but they killed it, and it's now quite
dead. We probably mourn the music industry's passing more than teen and
college age listeners do. You don't miss what you never had.
> If the current system of complete bombardment and brainwashing is allowed
I don't mean to be offensive, but that does sound an awful lot like what
parents were saying when Elvis came out. :)
I certainly won't argue that what's getting broadcast these days is poor
art, if it's art at all. I won't argue that because of any kind of
moral basis though. It just doesn't pass any of the usual tests for
things people usually expect of good art:
- Does it provoke thought or novel perspective?
- Did it require mastering of a difficult technique to produce? (E.g.,
was anyone who knows how to play an instrument involved in this?)
- Is it a representation of the artists' inner world that lets
you see them with some sort of enhanced intimacy?
- Are any of the traditions of previous artists of this type (musician,
sculptor, painter, etc.) being explored or expanded upon, at least to
any degree that these previous artists would be able to recognize?
(In other words, is there a musician *anywhere* would would know what
they're doing as music, upon becoming aware of how they made it?)
It's always been really hard to define art, or even judge how good it
is, but the kind of autotuned, cut-and-pasted stuff I think we're
talking about here probably fails most of the above tests.
Whether it's moral or not is probably not something that should be
controlled, because as someone else effectively pointed out, "moral"
depends on whether you're in Amsterdam or Riyadh.
> It's a delicate balance because it requires a complete commitment to
New wave (and styles related to it) was always really good at stradling
the line between too "arty" and too "vulgar". You had the punk rockers
who basically greeted you by vomiting, and then you had the progressives
who were working on stuff in odd time signatures and alternate tunings
with lyrics that may or may not have been comprehensible to anyone. It
was nice having that freedom to be anywhere within that spectrum you
needed to be at the moment without actually having to switch to a
different style family to do it. You could even try being at both ends
of the spectrum at the same time if you wanted to attempt it.
+ Brent A. Busby + "We've all heard that a million monkeys
+ UNIX Systems Admin + banging on a million typewriters will
+ University of Chicago + eventually reproduce the entire works of
+ Physical Sciences Div. + Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet,
+ James Franck Institute + we know this is not true." -Robert Wilensky
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