money both dirty and/or sexy
Man, you get some interesting responses anytime Art and Commerce are forced into a fistfight - with people overwhelmingly choosing Commerce as their favorite. The comments/emails from yesterday's blog show what an uphill battle it is to get people to understand the larger picture.
In a nutshell, these are the major deceits:
1) Nobody should pay for art, it should just exist so we can enjoy it.
2) Artists are, by and large, "getting away with it."
3) Doing art for a living isn't a Real Job.
4) Artists should consider themselves lucky to get anything because so many other people will be happy to do it for free.
5) TV writers, movie scribes, architects, hairdressers and the people who write all the words on a website are not artists.
6) Art is demonstrably less important than money, sports, science, alcohol and most sex.
All to which, no offense, I call utter bullshit. Maybe the problem is using the term "art" when it has such pretentious implications. I wish there were a better word for it, but for now I'll stick with this formula: Anything someone creates from their imagination for the enjoyment, edification, reaction or affirmation of their fellow man = ART.
As such, art is as important as every single fucking thing listed above, unless you want to live in a country where all the houses are square, where there are no stories, where there are no pictures or paintings, everyone's hair is a dull brown or grey, and nobody shares any cultural experience outside of the NFL. Take the NFL off that list, and you've got Albania in the 1950s.
This stuff is like oxygen; you don't realize how much you depend upon it until it's gone. And bit by bit, that's happening: already music is pretty much extinct from most public school systems, and when it's budget-crunch time, who gets the money, the sculpting department who wants a kiln, or the defensive linebackers who want new crotch cups?
In essence, that's why I say this fight between the WGA and the major studios can be construed into a much bigger picture: it's the same damn thing being played out on a larger scale. Tregen claims that nobody in Hollywood wants a living, they only want to make it big - again, somehow, writers are "getting away with it." Andrew compares the WGA to a bunch of florists. In doing so, you've both played perfectly into the hands of giant companies who want nothing more than to dismiss all of us as entitled, pathetic twits.
They don't have to try very hard, when you're doing their work for them. It's so easy when the American caricature of a self-proclaimed artist is a self-obsessed, needy idler who is probably a fag. People in this country are cruel to many people - different races, the gays, fat women - but they reserve their deepest hatred for those who, by their estimation, "don't work for a living."
And god frickin' forbid that they ask to be paid for their contributions. This has led to most artists simply not asking for money, believing, in a self-loathing haze, they aren't worth it. Thank god my dad, an amazing symphony conductor, taught me early on to FUCKING GET PAID for any work you do, and not meekly consider it an honor just to be invited.
In this country, you are rewarded for having a real job. Many of you, reading this right now, are being paid to sit in that chair in the morning, when fully 50% of you would rather be doing anything else. The fact that you don't act on that "anything else" is guaranteeing you health insurance and food for your kids, and I have unfathomable respect for that.
Someone who has chosen to be a writer can't do your job; they'd be no good at it. If they were in Neva's shoes, they'd prescribe the wrong medicine; if they were in Kevin from NC's bike shop, they'd destroy every derailleur they came across. Writers at our stage of the game have worked their lives to get here, and can't do anything else, just like you can't.
I don't mean to pick on anyone specifically from the comments, and I'm sorry for singling anyone out. But this is a battle we're destined to fight for the rest of our lives. There's no more money in journalism, nothing in novels or non-fiction, and off-Broadway is a pauper's game. There's hardly any money left in movies. The only place anyone can make a living writing anymore is in television, and now we're being told that we're worthless. As Winston Churchill said, that is something up with which we will not put.
Posted by Ian Williams at October 15, 2007 11:07 PM
Don't really have a problem with anyone getting paid for anything. One has to prove their worth, regardless. I guess that your family history provides a little more insight for you about getting paid for art, obviously.
There are two things this raises for me, or makes me define for myself:
1) Some things are entertainment, some things are art, some are craft. Most Seinfeld episodes to me are entertainment/craft. They show talent, and intelligence, but I do apply heavier context to the word 'Art'. I assume the people who contributed got paid. I would be surprised if they didn't.
2) Some of the aspects of this are unique to your occupation. I don't really understand 'royalties' or 'residuals'. They are unique. Most other occupations carry liabilities into the future, not royalties. I think that's where the feeling that "Art is not as important as oxygen" comes from. I would love to get royalties for each engineering solution that I provide and sometimes I do, but the liability associated with it is probably not worth it. In my particular endeavor the goal is to produce something of value, get paid appropriately and then never hear about it again.
Occasionally art is the accused culprit in a way that is similar to other occupations, such as Helter Skelter's effect on the Manson family. But ultimately it's impact is not usually punished and to the casual observer, I'd say that the members of the Beatles have profitted handsomely from the song; an arrangement I find foreign to my experience.
The NFL makes a lot of money, I'm not really sure why - but on the flip side so has Jeff Koons. It would be interesting to take your entry today and apply most of the references to Koons, contrasted with other occupations.
"All to which, no offense, I'd call utter bullshit" - Ian Williams
(As you know, I did always want to sculpt Michael Jackson and Bubbles and leverage it into marrying a hot Italian porn star- no, really)
Holly cow, my second mention in XTCIAN.
Let me try to expand on my short comment yesterday:
I said that no one I know (as in personally know) wants to simply make a living at their "art" but rather they are all interested in making it big. I am sure there are many people in "the business" who are happy making a living and getting by.
I am a huge fan of art and firmly believe that removing art from public schools and the public in general is a terrible idea and the damage already done must be reversed. In addition, I believe that artist should absolutely get paid what their "art" will bring in the market. However, I also believe that the writer for, say "Dexter", should get paid infinetly more than the writer for,oh, I don't know, say "The Real OC" and likewise, a great painting by Lou Posner may require a bit more green that one picked up in Venice Beach on Sunday. The reason the studios and TV producers can put the financial squeeze on so many people who operate in the business, including writers, is simply a matter of supply and demand. There is way more supply of folks trying to get in than there is demand and the result is obvious.
You have, on numerous occassions, bemoaned mediocrity in our society, and yet here you defending the status quo, which, when it comes to TV programing, is generally pathetic (with a few exceptions). Write your show, create your script and make it so good, so perfect, and so entertaining that you will get paid a living wage, and hopefully far more, but please don't pretend that what the nation is subjected to for hours a day on TV is art.
I believe your definition of Art is a bit overbroad. I cook up some great dishes sometime from my imagination, but it's food, not art and while some folks may like to consider what they do in a kitchen as such, ultimately, with the exception of a few sushi chefs, I disagree.
I agree with other commentors that a very large part of what is put on the TV today is absolute garbage. This cookie cutter crap may meet the definition of art as you define it but, in my opinion, it does not pass the definition as justice Stewart would have worded it ("I know it when I see it...").
While I am an advocate of no TV I am a huge abuser of the internet and have found that I have seen some great short films, dramas, music, etc. all put out in the great big WWW that are making the creators of this art money without the need for TV/big screen to affirm their success.
I believe that Art is an ever changing medium that is as much a part of being a human as consciousness, emotion and speech. From the play-doh creations of three-year-olds, to the street vendors in the third world, to the master painters, we (humans)create. We create bedtime stories for our children, songs in the shower, and dreadful poetry for our lovers, but we all create. Getting paid for it is an absolute bonus and I wish anyone and everyone who can make a living, and hopefully get filthy rich, the best but just because an artist is an artist doesn't mean he should get paid anymore than the fact that I am an attorney means I should get paid just for being an attorney. The truth is I must produce positive results or I'll be broke, just like everyone else, artist included.
Sorry, long rant and I'm not sure it makes any sense whatsoever. Nevertheless, I hope you guys the best and if you need a good entertainment attorney I just moved downtown.....