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What — If Anything — Is Wrong with Artistic Pandering?

Popular Artist: The point of art is to make a change.  The more people you change, the bigger the change. People say “Oh you are selling out for money.”  No, friend — money is just a book-keeping system we use in our society for power.  The point of art is power.  Art is to make effective change.

Elitist Art: The point of art is to advance art, and that means to know things which have never before been known, and do things which have never before been done.  Time is fleeting.  We all know what masses of people enjoy — sex, violence, revenge fantasies, and some lie about how their lives as masses are better than they are — some lie about how they are special.  Why spend your artistic gifts practicing to be better and better at these gross, unsavory, mechanical skills?  Why waste your life pandering?

Popular Artist: You are simply giving a fancy name to “pandering to elites”.  Elites want to think that they are special and better because they have the leisure to taste strange new tastes, and the social confidence to say “I enjoy them.”  You are simply the court jester to our society’s kings and princes, who are by-and-large ridge hedge fund managers.  In other words, if I may express myself popularly — fuck you.

Elitist Artist:  Well fuck you with a cherry on top.

Popular Artist: Fuck you with a cherry on top and all the sprinkles —

Elitist Artist: Fuck you with a cherry on top, all the sprinkles and your mother’s —

A PHILOSOPHER INTERVENES

Philosopher: Now, now you too.  Allow me to intervene.   You’re both friends of mine, I don’t want you fighting, at least not in such a childish fashion.  (I.e. I am ok if you fight, but fight like grown-ups.)

Popular Artist: You’re just going to take his side, cause you’re both elitists and more comfortable with elite status games than power.

Elitist Artist: You are just going to say some boring philosophical thing about how we’re both right.

Philosopher: No, I’m not — and don’t tell me what I’m going to say before I say it.  Popular artist — you are right that art is about power, but you are committing suicide by giving up your power by shooting at pleasing people in massive scads and groups.  You are pleasing people in boring ways. You are pleasing people in ways that are not truly giving you pleasure.  Because the ways that give you the deepest pleasure are new.   You will only have my respect when you please millions but you do it in a way that actually excites yourself — where you are excited by the new country’s you discover not just by your skill at selling time-shares on old countries.

Elitist Artist you are right in what you say, but wrong in why you say it.  You are afraid you lack the power to please the masses and that’s why you are so mad at popular artist.  You envy him.

 

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5 thoughts on “What — If Anything — Is Wrong with Artistic Pandering?

  1. Even though art is highly subjective and up to interpretation, and it is difficult to say something is “not art” absolutely, I think there is enough observable evidence to suggest that, indeed, hacks indeed exist. Out there are people who know themselves to be fakes or at least not genuine to gain the pay and advantages of the position of artist or from art. One could also argue that even great artists may on occasion do work for money or promotion that they do not believe is genuine of themselves. As such, there could possibly be an argument for the existence of “Fake art”, or “non art”, or at least not absolutely genuine art.

    There are hacks who mostly get into popular art because that’s where the money is, and they are driven by money. If they want to be elite, they will climb the ladder with money, not art. There are hacks who are trying to fit in with the “elite” side as well, fake advante garde who know their work isn’t art, the French guy who defecated into cans as “art” laughing about how they would explode on their foolish owners later. There is money in pandering to rich and elite people, and its a quicker way to the elite circle yourself, especially artistic elite and perhaps psuedo elite int he case of our rich people who bought cans of shit We can see potential hacks along the whole line from peanut gallery all the way up to super trust fund babies having low grade or even non art pitched to them.

    The real artist may have real troubles with pandering, because he loves and values what he does, it is his station in life, who he is, it matters to him deeply. However, art takes time and money, which means his real art has to sell to support him and the art, or he must find a good patron who will pay for him to make art without influencing the artist, or he must do occasional hack work himself to pay the bills. The real artist may take shame in some work he will have to do to pay bills, but its a topic I think they should be forgiven in, the occasional pandering that pays for the artist and his real art is a minor evil at worst. The artist will never forgive himself for it and will not let it corrupt his real work. Many great works are paid for by junk art, so its just the way the world goes. I prefer a real master who makes the occasional hack work than a hack who will never make a masterpiece.

    Sorry if I have wandered off point, but to get back to your ending point tot he Elitist Artist, I agree completely. Good art and good stories make for good movies, comics, novels, masterpieces, good and deep works do sell well and make money and are good art. Its one reason I love using fables, because they are deep and valuable yet simple enough for the masses, and even their simplicity has a quality of its own. Good movies and shows have made money and had mass appeal, and in my opinion, the modern idea of using set formulas to appeal to the masses is starting to turn on the entertainment industry. Cliches and tropes overused to the point even the masses lose interest, and the formulas eventually become so sterile of art and creativity they are no longer appealing, even if they have the “triggers” and “sure sell” qualities of sex and violence that are supposed to guarantee success. Popular hackism was a money maker to some extent, but as it becomes purer don’t be surprised if it starts to fail.

    Now, since you are at the center of art and entertainment, you can tell an isolated hermit thousands of miles away if I wrong in sensing the great bitterness, contempt, and hatred of many real artists towards the masses, especially Hollywood, generated when the public has little to no interest in their master works, and yet eat up “Sex Drugs Rock n Roll 3: The Revenge”. That when the people in general raise up tripe over fat loins of beef, there is a unique disdain I’ve seen and felt in artists that is almost unlike any other. An unsavoury irony, a juxtaposition that is almost intolerable, an insult the lies and kinds have no equal. I’ve heard other counter revolutionaries use the term “You killed kings for this?” in regards to the problems of popular government, and I think there is some correlation of “You killed real art for this?’ when we see hollow, shallow, pointless, mind numbing entertainment succeed so well over good things.

    You can sometimes just feel the disdain, its palpable, you can see it, sense it. Like a master chef who is forced to serve a low grade hotdog to a fat dunce, slamming the plate down angrily with a look on his face of rage and “Here’s your encased lips and assholes you dolt” remark, all the while taking the money and hating every second of it. He hates the customer, he may even hate his task, and he takes no pride in it, and if he does this long enough he will purposely put no effort into the hot dog and not care if he is cooking the hot dog with the care and grace of the master he is. If he “half assed” a hot dog and the dunce eats it anyway, his opinion of the dunce decreases even further, and soon his preparation and the final hot dog are of decreasing quality, and if they still sell, his opinion drops further every time. He saves his money for a “real restaurant” that serves great food to discerning customers, holding a grudge for every hot dog he has to boil for the masses to raise the money to do so.

    When he finally builds his great place and serves his great food, he does not expect the hot dog eaters to show up, and at some point may not even care anymore. He does not expect those people to appreciate “real food”, he does not even try to sell to them, or if they choose said hot dogs over prime rib, he won’t try to appeal to them in the future after he feels the real quality work, not just himself, has been snubbed. Even if he was not a snubby snob before, over time, he might become elitist via the experience.

    One day this master chef serves garbage grade hot dogs to the masses because of the poor opinion he has gained over time after serving them hot dogs. The problem here is, even the dunce will one day grow weary of a truly terrible hot dog, and may quit the hot dog place, and resent the resentment of the chef. The other problem is the chef’s good fine dining establishment makes no effort at all to appeal to anyone other than those with refined tastes, there is no effort to bring good food to the masses any longer, nor any effort to bring the masses to the good dining place. So it is with entertainment, mass entertainment is now seen as rotten tripe of no quality and almost not real art, and real art is now considered to be too good for the masses and no attempt is made at mass real art, as there is no attempt to serve mass good food.

    We see universal contempt from the low brow customer all the way up to the great artists. Its unhealthy. We see schisms in art that should not be there, we see art split into “high real art” and “consumer grade dogshit non art” and the radical change to keep separating and specializing the two, instead of trying to do the hard work of making good mass art again. At some point real artists are better off getting over resentment towards the masses and try again at bringing them something popular yet good.

    I fear that in too many things in this world, the good elites who are the vanguard of real things as art and politics are overwhelmed at some point by the bad elites who are just asshole snobs who only value exclusivity. The good elites saw it was their job to bring culture and good things to the masses, and the exclusives seek to make great things tings only of the exclusives, and find plenty of shared sentiment with masters whose great works are spat upon by the masses.

    In any case, sorry if once again rambled too long, but again you make a good post with good points.

    • Its quite peaceful. I know that I’m wasting my talents here, I know I should interact with people and the world again, but its been enlightening. Disengaging not only gives you better perception of the world, but also a chance to rest, to heal, to find peace. I can be driven and hard working, but its good to get away from concepts of and restrictions of time and short term social relativity. Its nice to have the sheer time, not just energy and pressure, to complete thoughts and observations.

      Without people, without compulsion or impulse, I’ve stopped trying to “fill time” up with activity. I relax a lot now, don’t worry about time, just not to worry. Dispense with the arbitrary and connected with the natural flow. To lay off, lay back, that things are “OK” and not always “Things have to be this way”. Learn to live in surroundings rather than change the surroundings to suit me, the chance to understand things around me and not to value them from me.

      Most of all a life of enjoying things as they are instead of refusing happiness until I have what I demand and want. True tranquility.

      Its been good to wander a bit in my studies, although at some point you have to come back and refocus and discipline them again. I’ve become so inactive in some ways its close to a living death of sorts, and you have to drag yourself out of the lull and the inactive peace at some point. I’ve had some guilt for not talking to friends as much, again about not applying myself, but otherwise no regrets of a life of peace.

      Overall I think a return to the modern world will be difficult mostly on account that I think the best things in life, spirituality, are simple things in a simple life, and the complexities we build at some point only clutter and make obscure these things. Sunsets, full moons, cheap tobacco, tea, peace, relaxation. Its modern man’s complex arbitrary things, his demand for control, his endless will, always more. The life I’ve had fits in my general life priciples of stoicism, Zen, focus on the deep, in a modern world so petty and busy out of compulsion rather than value.

      I hate to leave the lifestyle to do better things at some point because I don’t think the busy modern world of man has much more to offer me than what I have. Perhaps more is less and less is more. Better to manage one own’s holdings and place rather than to go conquer the world. Best to stay away from the hullabaloo of pettiness than to become entangled in it. I certainly don’t regret my time spent.

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