fight the culture war
There's more at stake here than just art. For thousands of years, artists were the ones who spoke for the condition of the soul. If you look at any art that goes back to ancient culture, it TELLS you something, it demands that you FEEL something. The Ancient Chinese, Aztecs, Native-Americans, India (as in the country, NOT Native-American), Celtics, and Africans are just a few examples of OLD WORLD cultures that convey something of the human spirit's struggle to thrive and communicate. Even if you look at early American culture: there was a roots movement, a feeling, it's all there in the photos, the early music recordings, the oil paintings; a country full of yearning and pain, a struggle to be independent and face it's own mistakes.
Being an American, I love some of our cultural past (even the British Invasion). Some of the world's greatest art and music came during all those decades from the 1960's all the way up to almost the turn of the millenium. But, somewhere along the line, SOMETHING changed. I'm not saying that artists themselves changed; I'm saying that we started to lose our voice. How, you may ask?
There is a combination of factors. To start, the arts/music industry became just that: an INDUSTRY. Obviously, there's always been a supply and demand for art, so it's always been an "industry". I won't argue that. American culture has never been a rain-dance in the middle of the night, let's face it. But, there's always been a demand for (good) art and music, and so there's always been a supply. It was one hand washing the other. In order for the supply to be met, you had to have people who loved art to know where to find it, and though there IS NO PRICE on (good) art, the market was a means to bring this art to our hearts and minds.
I'm not saying that EVERY SINGLE piece of art and music that ever made it's way into popular culture has been the most self-exploratory, spiritually expressive piece of art that speaks for the human soul. No way. But, it WAS there. It was alive and it was fun and if you were looking for more serious, and deeper forms of radical expression, you didn't have to look very far. There seemed to be a common thread still available to be unraveled.
But, what happened? Very simply, the industry became a business. A machine. And it thought that if you made carbon-copies of artists, and molded them into what they thought we wanted, we would continue to buy it. And they were right. It worked. If the business didn't have to go out of its way to understand what a new, radical, redefining artist was, it could just keep selling facsimiles to the people. But, shouldn't the people know what they want? YES and NO. Very simply: the human heart knows what it wants when it sees it and feels it. Our culture up to this point has always been a conversation between the artists and those that see it and feel it. It has been said before that art mirrors life and life mirrors art.
In a way, we as artists have been telling/showing the people what they want, because WE were what they needed. It's always been a symbiosis, a natural mutuality that has always been in play long before industrialization helped to cut the cord.
So, basically, not too long ago, BIG MONEY wedged his BIG DOLLAR in the door and made an offer that those at the helm of the record industry couldn't refuse. Yep. When you get to the root of it, EVERYTHING has its price. And we got sold. And we got replaced by puppets that were made in a factory, and they were programmed to sing like us, to dance like us, and to move like us. But, they could never BE us. They pulled a sleight-of-hand right in front of our eyes. They tricked their way right into your wallets.
But, people don't want to face and believe that they've been tricked or fooled. They want to keep thinking that they love their new products. Let me ask you something: When you look at your TV, turn on the radio, or look through the latest magazines, do you see a reflection of what is REALLY in your heart and soul? Well, you should, but you probably don't. Instead, what you see is a reflection of who they think you should want to be. The element of real, human emotion has been removed, surgically. It is only emulated and projected with false sincerity. The people have become a market to be targeted; a spectrum of demographics to be catered to. To have our needs "suited". The business machine does not have to "feel", it just has to give you what you want.
And it does.
By now, you must be thinking, "Well, then where HAVE the real artists gone? Where is the mirror that TRULY reflects us as a people now?" The "real" artists are not gone, they have just been sitting by, suffering silently, waiting for a change. The mirror is not gone, it has just been broken and shattered in many pieces, but it can't be thrown away for good. The pieces can be re-assembled, and we CAN see ourselves again one day for who we truly are.
We've been peering into an eye-hole of the past, clinging to certain time periods, hoping the classics will re-animate themselves in one form or another. Maybe even had clouded views of the now historic pieces of art, not truly appreciating it for what it was.
If we're paying homage to our interpretation of the music that preceded us or we're even remotely inspired by it, it's obvious we were blinded by some other notion.
If artists produced their art solely because it made them whole, and without it they'd be empty, the art world would be condensed, powerful, and unique. But, unfortunately, money fuels the engine, and the art we experience today is easily consumable, vast in number, and simply more of the same.
Are we enabling this fact? Or are we content with over-privileged, manufactured silhouettes with dolled-up faces sucking the worlds imagination from their hearts through their eyes and ears.
We're sick of the assembly-line tactics. We don't need our sensories overloaded with the catchy, the flashy, and the tacky. We don't want the excessive, and the over-the top.
We just want our culture back.