Sunday, December 04, 2005

Art and Entertainment

If something is not art, what does it become? Given my previous definition of art, there are many things which a more traditional definition of art would include that mine would not. Take for instance a song written for the sake of the audience listening. Obviously, this isn't a creative act representative of the songwriters views and values, and thus does not constitute real art. Instead, the songwriter is simply creating for the sake of their audience; that is, they are creating entertainment.

Movies are an excellent example of this phenomena. The mainstream cinema has never had much artistic merit to its productions, rather, they serve simply to entertain the viewers. Some films, of course, are very artistic, but these seldom are produced in the mainstream, for the simple fact that they do not cater to a large audience. Movies in theatres today are instead simply entertainment, without much behind them besides the need to pack more people in and to sell more DVDs.

This is obviously problematic to any person who might hope to make a career out of art. In order to be an artist and to create art, the creation must be personal and without regard to the potential audience. To sell, though, it is the audience first and foremost that must be considered. Given the definition of art that I've supplied, an artist's art will appeal only to those with similar values or perceptions, which is bound to be too few to actually constitute a career.

This is why many artists choose entertainment as the end of their creation instead of legitimate art. Steven Spielberg, for instance, is a consummate artist who chooses, it seems, to sacrifice any artistic integrity his films might have for the sake of the audience watching. One reason why Speilberg is so successful is not due to his artistic sensibilities but to his knowledge of what will sell. Spielberg is an entertainer.

This is not a negative thing. Everyone's got to make a living, and entertainment is a respectable and long lived profession. True art, though, requires more. The reason why artists are so identified with the bohemian "starving artist" image is because those artists who remain true to their own art generally don't sell so well.

There is hope for the artist, though; there is almost always some person on earth who can empathize with the sentiment expressed, even enough to buy or support the art taking place. In my next installment, I'll examine the musical turned movie Rent as a case study for my discussion on art and how art can be effectively treated in the modern world.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent, love it!

7:30 AM  

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