Is Democracy Killing Art?

MASHA GERZON 12M

haring art money

 

Imagine yourself in the theatre watching a play and suddenly realizing that every member of the audience is either an actor or a director.

It would be strange. But not nearly as strange as poets reading poetry to poets, and only painters strolling through exhibitions of painters.

When composers and musicians will play music only for musicians and fish-eyed critics, the world will probably take a deep breath, and explode, while the shredded left overs will be sucked up by an angry black hole, as the universe will shake in rage and horror.

 

In Elizabethan times, Shakespeare was writing plays for the Queen, while one hundred and fifty years later Mozart had ripped his heart out to generate  music that would please Prince Colleredo.

In France, during the 18th Century, Madame de Pompadour, bearing the title of Louis XV’s Chief Lover, also made sure that artists, actors and especially writers of plays were kept fed, watered and respected.

This attention to wards the creatives had produced a new layer of society – the Bohemia.

But Now that Marie Antoinette – another patron of the Arts – lies headless in her grave along with the rest of the aristocracy, everyone has long forgotten about the Creative Class,  and the value of any sort of art seems to drop every day.

The only art which us seen valuable is the one that brings money. The problem with this, is that intelligent art does not come into this category.

 

Western Culture encourages any sort of ambition. We do everything to survive – we do not lead a simple, calm way of life, happy with what we’ve got – we gallop to each goal, one after the other, munching on each sweet dream as it comes true.

Lately, everyone’s biggest dream is money. Everything is based on money.

And I am not a communist myself, but surely it is vulgar that whether a good movie will be shot or not depends on whether people will come to see it and pour their gold  into sponsors’ pockets.

You may of course ask me what defines a “good” movie. You may ask why movie, books, paintings created now are not “good” enough for me. You can answer that question yourself, however.

Tell me when was the last time you watched a movie that you did not forget five minutes after you have seen it?

When was the last time you read a book which painfully hooked your soul and which you couldn’t get off your mind?

When did you last read a modern bestseller that you didn’t just push aside, to begin turning the pages of a new paperback?

When did a book you read make you stay up awake at night, thinking about what was right and what was wrong?

This doesn’t happen often this day and age, because less and less art is produced that requires us to think. Hollywood movies are bombarded at us – like junk food for the soul and brain.

All because this is what will help sponsors make millions. The audience is being given what it wants, whereas the mission of any member of the Bohemia caste is to bring something to the audience – change the way they think, increase their intellect. Now, the Bohemia does not get a say in the art – entrepreneurs do.

 

Aldous Huxley was a talented British writer and philosopher, and had originally written the screenplay for Disney’s Alice in Wonderland – it was full of intellect, reflecting Lewis Carroll’s book. But Walt Disney announced this screenplay was too intelligent for the audience.

When I read about this, I could feel myself go into shock. How can a person,  instead of trying to promote intellect to the audience, immediately view it as a flock of sheep. How can a person like that be in charge of making cartoons and films? How can a person like that have anything to do with any form of art?

So then I turned to  Wikipedia to read about Walt Disney, and this marvellous network of information straight away told me everything I needed to know about this man – he was an entrepreneur. Not an artist, not a writer,  not a composer – not any one close to the arts. He was an entrepreneur, a businessman  who made money, and therefore he did not want or need to challenge the audience – the audience is  stupid? Well, give it stupid films.  Now, the base of all art is money. Money and business.

Those who are ready to brush aside their intellect will not be ignored, or left in the shadows – the world will see their “art”, but there is no audience left for the Bohemia.

The trouble is not even capitalism, the trouble is, believe it or not, in democracy. Or rather, in the democratic approach to art.

In the past, there was vulgar poetry. There were books like the airplane novels we read now – empty and thick. But this was not known as art – this was a entertainment for the masses. But, those who had education, those who were aristocratic, made sure their children were educated too. They made sure their children knew what real art was, and that they could intelligently judge it.

Now art and entertainment have been blended and ironed out so much that it is impossible to tell which is which. And what’s worse, the culture of intelligent people introducing their children to High Art is disappearing.

Everyone, even those who are able to understand the beauty of real art, approaches art from the same angle – from the lowest one.

This says something about our society. It brings shame upon us.

While in the past, when people did not dream of the technologies we have, when they did not even think of democracy, equality, while they could not even imagine that there would be no famine, that humans could live up to ninety years – those people, whose life was extremely difficult, valued true art.

 

The aristocracy valued true Art. It looked for and protected intelligent creatives; it provided them with an intelligent, but not professional audience – a vital thing for the Bohemia.

High art was cherished, and with it were cherished those who created it.Now, we are too lazy to go looking for that High Art, lost and almost gone.We take what we are given – we guzzle down what we are fed by producers and advertisers.

The Bohemia meanwhile, is left ignored, for what business can you make of it?

 

image: Andy Mouse by Keith Haring, 1986

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