(Drawings done while watching a little over an hour of network TV)
These are dark times for the nexus of art and commerce. Every industry that tries to make a buck from others’ creativity is moribund or in flames.
The music business is more intent on suing children for downloading MP3s than trying to incorporate innovations in technology. The publishing business focuses a disproportionate amount of energy on the works of two dozen best selling and second rate authors. The movie business barely scraped a top ten list together last year. Network television bemoans the final act of geriatric shows like Friends and 60 Minutes, unable to generate anything new that mass audiences will flock to. Instead of intelligent, adult programming, they program sleaze. Fashion’s top designers have become factories or left the business. Advertising is unable to come up with any strategy to combat Tivos.
Over the past decade, conglomerates have engulfed each of these industries. Huge businesses demand regular, increasing profits to feed Wall Street and are loath to bet on anything but a sure fire hit with mass appeal. They slather on bureaucracy and centralize decisions to minimize risk and surprise. But risk and surprise are the food and drink of creativity.
And yet, despite this Armageddon, we are in the middle of an enormous renaissance of creativity. Look around you. People are taking digital pictures. They’re recording their own songs. They’re shooting, editing, scoring movies. They’re scanning artwork. They’re writing essays. They’re sharing stories, and recipes and patterns and ideas. They’re supporting each other, inspiring each other, feeding and cheering and promoting each other.
The only ‘problem’? Oh my god, no one’s making money off all these blogs and personal websites and zines and chats. So they can’t be real. They can’t count.
If they were any good, they’d turn a profit, right?
Just like cave painters had three picture deals. Just like Shakespeare had licensing partners. Just like Mozart was a millionaire, Van Gogh was pursued by paparazzi, Nijinsky had his own MTV pilot… For most of human history, creative people made creative things because they had to. Now, perhaps, we’re getting back to an understanding of how essential and human that is.
By the way, if anyone knows a major corporation that would like to sponsor this blog, please put them in touch with my corporate parent. Just kidding.