is all art created equal?

| Saturday, February 20, 2010
Today's Tune: Metro

Twenty followers, yay! Thanks dudes!

Just an FYI: for some reason, Blogger embedded comment forms get blocked on my work computer (I usually check blogs during my lunch break), so I can't comment on a lot of blogs! :( My home computer is fine, it's just my work computer. I can do the comment forms that are pop-ups and the ones that take me to a different page, but it doesn't like the embedded forms for whatever reason. I try to remember to comment when I get home, but sometimes I forget. Just so you know!

I was reading this post about Sarah Silverman addressing the TED audience over at LitDrift recently, and it got me thinking (of course, right?) about pushing the envelope and the idea that "anything is art."

I'm not a big fan of "shock jocks" - people who set out to purposely shock and offend people to make a point. I understand what they're trying to do. They want to bring attention to something (or themselves) in an overblown way that will undoubtedly be talked about. It's effective, no doubt about that, but I usually feel whatever message they were trying to convey is completely lost in the outrage that accompanies their antics. It's all well and good to say, "But that was my point! SOCIAL COMMENTARY!", but... bleh, not really. You're real-life trolling. Anyone can do that. It's not revolutionary to know that using the N-word at an NAACP event (for example) is going to get you some backlash.

It's the same way I feel about race/sex/fart jokes. Yes, you can and will find people that think that sort of thing is freakin' hilarious. People will connect with it, you'll get attention and laughs. But is it art? Is it creative? In a loose sense of the term, sure. It's also easy. I'd even go so far as to say it's lazy. You really want to measure the validity of your art off of the fact that some people think saying "retarded" to a bunch of stuffy artsy folks is funny? And supposedly "edgy" and "revolutionary?"

For what it's worth, I'm not anti-Silverman. She has her moments, and I respect some of the things she tries to do. Just not everything. This is one of those things that made me roll my eyes and go, "Jeez, really?"

Is some art more valid than other art? The all-inclusive, hippie-dippy part of me wants to say no. Everyone's contributions to creativity are equally valid, sure.

The more critical part of me wants to say, come on. Fart jokes are not as creative or valid as clever, subtle satire. Can both find an audience? Absolutely. Are they comparatively creative? No.

There's this desire in the artistic community to make everyone equal - that we all deserve credit and acceptance because our art is just as important as any other art out there. Unfortunately, it's not reality. That's not a bad thing. It means we always have something to aspire to. If you never have to be challenged, how do you grow?

Just to be clear, I don't think admitting that art is inherently unequal means that certain art is INvalid. Obviously, tastes vary widely. What some think is inane, others will find hilarious; what some find genius, others find mind-numbingly boring. It's how we deal with that fact that makes the difference.

Do we feel compelled to demand that people accept our brand of creativity and admit its validity, even if they disagree? Or are we okay with being accepted by some audiences and not others?

What do you think? Is all art created equal?


{ Christi Goddard } at: February 20, 2010 at 4:48 PM said...

I think art is subjective, and therefore not equal. Everyone has a varying opinion, and as a society we have dictated whose opinions have the most clout. Personally, when I look at some 'art' and think, "But it's just a cement sphere!" others go, "Oooooh, pretty!" I think that's part of the reason we have genres to begin with. They can't all just be 'BOOK.'

{ Jon Paul } at: February 21, 2010 at 8:26 AM said...

Steph--great, provocative post!

I think at the heart of it, you are actually asking two different questions. The first one I think centers on what kind of works should be allowed into the "art" club, and the second question is about the artistic value of a particular kind of work. I separate it this way because I think the answers to the two questions differ.

For the first question, I think the doors should be thrown open. If somebody says it's art, then so be it. Why not, after all?

For the second question, I think it has so much to do with taste and personal bias, that I think we'd be hard-pressed to come up with a set of criteria that would satisfy everyone.

So to sum: Anyone should be allowed to call it art; not everyone will think it's a work of art.

My two cents worth anyway. Again, nice work.

{ maybe genius } at: February 21, 2010 at 9:07 AM said...

Christi - Interesting point! It's extremely subjective, it's true. Some of those people may be looking at the cement sphere and because they understand the work and creation that went behind it, they may appreciate it more as art. All in the eye of the beholder :)

Jon - Thank you! I like that you separated it out like that. I agree that if someone wants something to be considered art, they're welcome to giving it the title. I think my main hangup comes with the issue of work and skill involved in producing something, which may not be entirely fair, but it's the angle my subjective lens is at. I think it's a fairly common stance - how often to people get annoyed and scoff at a person who comes to easy success with a minimum of "hard work" and "skill?" We see it in the writing community, the music community, the acting community... it's interesting.

Anonymous at: August 4, 2010 at 3:14 AM said...

I think that if you know nothing about art, then you should keep your uneducated opinion to yourself. We aren't listening anyway. I'm an artist. I was the best in every class at school, then at art college and further on from there. I'm not better because my hands work better or I can weild a brush better, but because I have sharper artistic sensitivity. Like the way musicians always know a virtuous performance and others of us (all with ears) may not. This was not based on opinion. It was a fact. I can see good art, I can see good design. I may not always like it, but I and others like me are attuned to what is good in art. Some people just are not in the race. Keep your ideas to yourself and stick to what you do know.

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