Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Art versus Entertainment

The internet is a strange new world, and has changed much of what we have always assumed to be so. Walking hand in hand with reality television, the internet has given nearly everyone a chance to say hello to the world, and seek a chance at fame. For some, miraculously, they have achieved that fame, and it is out for debate as to who really deserves it.

Yes, popularity is a measure of fame, although let us please draw a line between art and entertainment. Let's give a broad definition to 'art', to include any creative endeavour that requires thought, hard work, determination, and most importantly, originality. Entertainment can be defined as anything else that entertains us, outside of the first definition.

I wish to draw the line here because parody is very popular, but let's be honest... it's also very easy. Anyone could rewrite song lyrics, and be funny, or make a Star Wars / Wizard of Oz mash-up, but this is not art, per se. Creating something original is art. Taking someone else's hard work and energy, and distorting it into something new is not. And doing so without permission can be criminal.

Now, I'm not insulting those who do this, or at least I don't mean to. Parody is an important part of the creative process. As kids, we learn through parody, and as artists, many of us begin by copying other people's styles, or drawing other's characters. From this point we learn the basics and, hopefully, go on to creating original works and develop our own styles. To be a true artist, though, one has to grow up eventually.

Now, this doesn't apply to Weird Al, of course, who has made a career out of parody. I assume that he has permission to rewrite songs and use their music, and he does a very good job of it, I must say. So where do I draw the line? Is it hypocritical to comdemn one, and not another?

I suppose I would like to see original artists get more attention than they do. Why does a band like Echobelly, or a Cartoonist like Brian Hughes get little attention while some boob on youtube gets a million hits and media attention?

Sure, base entertainment lasts as long as a summer breeze, while great art can last decades, but that art has to be found first, and shared. The internet has it all, if one has the time to look, but the big corporations still make sure that their garbage stays on top, making it all the harder to dig down below the surface.

So my point? Support original artists who strike your fancy. The big companies don't need your help, but we independent artists sure do. Even if it's just a kind word, or a referal to a friend.

While everyone else is watching a monkey make a sandwich, why don't YOU do something unique? Find a website that few have heard about, but is worth visiting, and spread the word.

Support the arts, and maybe we can raise the web's IQ a bit.

Cheers, JOHN :0)