Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ranting Nonsequitur: between artist and audience

To assume that one TV show is just as good as any other, as if they are interchangeable, nothing more than something to pass the time or amuse & distract us, is an insult not only to intelligent programming, but also the audience. It is not good enough that we engage with our entertainment on an emotional level, if we don’t also account for intellectual interaction.
When I hear people comment or complain that a particular TV show won’t or didn’t get as many viewers as it potentially could have because it was “competing” with another show on at the same time— or because of alternative media like internet or video games, I know that’s egregious nonsense. Competition based on content in entertainment doesn’t exist anymore. Especially if so-called competing shows are of different target demographics, such as American Idol versus Sarah Connor Chronicles. The bulk of the audience interested in watching Supernatural will not be watching Football or So You Think You Can Dance, or at least they will not be conflicted in choosing. These two kinds of shows innately appeal to different audience types: ones whose primary concern is connecting with their show and ones using the show to disconnect from reality.
And even if someone did want to watch two drastically different styles of programming, that scenario is essentially a non-issue, considering we have VCRs, DVRs, hulu, DVD, and Netflix. We don’t have to pick and choose one show at the expense of another.
If a person genuinely cares about a TV series—if it sincerely matters to them, they will make the time and effort to watch it, to know when it is on.
And if they miss their show, they will seek it out.
Which brings to mind a disturbing trend in entertainment I find disgusting: the laziness & disrespect of audience members. Whether TV, books, music or internet video, the majority of audience is unwilling to work for their art or entertainment, expecting it to be handed to them, explained to them, and declining to explore & investigate on their own to find & understand new things. Even worse, there is a despicable sense of entitlement among internet culture, where they presume that everything should be given to them for free. But our society is not mature enough to respect or value free things.
And when the art is freely given, very few consumers have the decency to bother showing their appreciation for the art & artist with a voluntary financial contribution to simply say “thanks, I like what you made”.
Surely, that’s the least we can do as alleged fans; either by donation or buying their creations even though they give us a free copy.
The neurotically self-obsessed millennial generation typically feels obliged to impose themselves into their entertainment, with no respect or appreciation of the art or the artist. They are incapable and/or unwilling to engage the art as it is; thinking it is appropriate that they must insinuate themselves into the art as if it were theirs, wanting to interact with and become a part of their entertainment, control and dictate terms to it.
They expect everything has to involve them, to make everything be about them, about catering to and coddling them. Rather than supporting the artist, they prefer the artist support them.
The entertainment and its creators exist only to serve their whims. They want to “relate” to it as if it were their own, exerting an attitude of partial ownership, “relate” to the artist as if he or she were their friend.
Paraphrasing myself, the notion that “the customer is always right” represents the fundamental downfall of our society.
We’ve even gotten to a point where branded entertainment is the new advertising model /trend, in which the audience must be amused or vicariously immersed or associated to be made to care. Doctor Steel astutely noted that the only way we can really communicate and connect with the masses now is through entertainment. A friend of mine recently ask me what aspect of the Space initiative could make it an appealing concept for the public (and therefore government) to support, and I said whatever benefits the space industry presented would have to be entertainment related. I’m convinced this isn’t a good thing.
Furthermore, most of them seem to have gotten the clearly erroneous impression that unless something is “vouched for” in a mainstream or officially recognized capacity/venue, then it is no good. A general belief persists that a major film studio movie is intrinsically better than an indie production or fan film or play or web video. If they’ve never heard of a book or author referenced on official channels, they tend to dismiss it as irrelevant and “amateur”. Fundamentally, the majority of the audience lack patience and empathy.
How can art survive and thrive in such an inconsiderately hostile environment?
There are more great artists than those with an official seal of approval, found in unconventional places, but we have to be willing to search for and support these independent art projects.

No comments:

Post a Comment