Friday, May 25, 2007

The Arts and Pop Culture

This was an interesting article:

a particular phrase:

"The arts don't live in the media. ... Our society has chosen not to
make arts part of our public culture." By contrast, pop culture is
glorified. Our schoolchildren can name NBA stars and contestants on
"American Idol." But, asked Gioia: "Can they name a living American
poet, a famous architect, a classical musician, a philosopher or a

Well, what made this article so interesting to me was I surprised myself by finding I disagree. The main problem here is the contrast between "the arts" and "popular
culture." There is no such contrast. It takes the same collaborative
effort of many artists to create a great movie, or a rock concert, as it
does to create a ballet performance, or a performance of the opera. The
problem is not an unbreachable divide between "the arts" and "pop
culture" - the problem is "no sense of history."

The more traditional (historic) arts (like a ballet or opera performance) need to be taught in our schools alongside the newer arts. It can take work to enjoy an opera or a ballet. It can also take work to enjoy a good movie. Our main problem is that as a society we really don't like things that aren't easy.

So, in that respect, movies, literature, music and other elements of the arts that "aren't easy" are also good for us. They challenge us to think at the same time that they entertain us.

Do you folks know that Socrates (the original) actually took part as an actor in Athenian plays. He sometimes played the roll of god (which ever one was needed in the particular play) by being let down in a great basket above the stage where he made sagacious pronouncements. He sometimes did this and made a great buffoon of himself, much to the enjoyment of the audience.

Let us not be so quick to divorce the "true arts" from pop culture.

Even in history we see the sage playing the part of the fool in order to entertain the crowds - even to make them laugh.



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