Thursday, June 16, 2005

More Miller

"No audience is more critical than the pop audience; unlike the more cultivated and hip they don't go on listening because they are "supposed to," past the point when they are being reached. When it no longer works for them they turn it off."

-Arthur Miller

But Arthur, if you leave a dog unattended next to a bag of puppy chow it will eat till its stomach is distended.

In all seriousness though. There are some profound implications to what Miller is saying. If we are speaking solely of our own American Pop Cultural Corporate Machine, and joyfully playing with the question why is it that the old people don't like what the young kids are playing on the radio...well, I'll leave such an inquiry to the capable intellect of a Andy Rooney. But, what about other popular cultural phenomina. For instance, the Nazi Propoganda Machine... If you view Albert Speer as a pop culture iconic enginner of his time.

This statement of Miller's hits me like a punch in the face. Not because it is a truism (which it is), but becuase it should stand as a warning and a condemnation as well.

The Michael Jackson Trial, Terry Shaivo Death Watch...if we can perceive these as pop cultural events for us to digest, (which is as they are presented to us by news media who are firmly entrenched within pop culture) we can state that, in its time so too were the Salem Witch Trials, McCarthy's Red Scare.

Let's assume Miller is right. And lets take it a step further. What are the implications if we can so easily marry Government, Politics, and Pop Cultural Appetites?

How connected are American Politics and Pop Culture. Is it our fault that we have not "turned it off"?


Charles said...

Tied into this question too is funding for the arts. Should art be able to pay for itself, or is it really a public service and so deserving of government funds? As an artist myself, I fully expect my work to be 'economically feasible.' If it's not, why am I creating it? If there's no market for it, what purpose does my 'art' serve beyond masturbation? If I write a story, and no one buys it, is it because the rest of the world is too 'pop culture' (read: simple, vanilla, low brow) or is it because I haven't written something that appeals to any sort of market? Does art for the sake of art's sake exist? I say no. Britney Spears, Beethoven, Shakespeare all filled a consumer demand. Don't blame the creators of the pop art, the pop politics, the pop social issues: blame the audience.

Devilvet said...

Regarding Funding:

I can understand your arguement in isolation. But when I think of all the other things that get funded and the degree to which they are funded, I dont mind our government giving out grants. Theatre companies that survive, that actually get a pop appeal still around 30 to 40% of their revenue from Grants.

How do you feel about the recent cut backs to CPB and as a result PBS and NPR?

And into today's media market isnt it fessible to claim that corporate power is just too pervasive and that the artist as individual cant compete for an audience simply becuase it cant compete with the same marketing saturation that today's pop artists get.