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Beneath this Mask

Your Relationship to Mass Media

There is an Idea

Your Relationship to Mass Media

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Here is a link to a provocative idea:


Please read the entry for Thursday, February 8 then come back here.

The relationship between Creator and Consumer is changing.  The Ivory Tower (to use Drayce's term) of Mass Media is under seige by a host of fans.  Shall it succumb? Or will the fans be hoist on their own petard?  What do you think?

Do you think that even the slightest bit of bending art to the audience will destroy creativity?  What becomes of art no one wants to see anymore?  Who is watching the Watcher? (*whispers*  it's us)

Some of you know I work in a bookstore.  I have to order and supervise the display of books and other items to appeal to customers.  Some stuff I do not like...I order it anyway because the customers want it.  Other things I order and put out:  TS Eliot, Nesbit, H Rider Haggard, Machiavelli, all Shakespeare's plays, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, you get the idea.  Those "classics" don't sell enough to really earn their shelf space, but I am loathe to stock a bookstore without them.  At the very least, when a customer comes in to buy her copy of Nora Roberts she will see that we have a stack of Voltaire on the shelves and tell her friend that this is the place to come for her child's reading list! 

This does not make me a critic (though I am one), I do have to respond to the market.  If I don't, the one person in a thousand who came in to buy Candide will not find a bookstore on the corner anymore!  Nora Roberts supports the Voltaire and Shakespeare readers...see?  Otherwise we would be out of business and I would have to go become a teacher and starve.  LOL

But what about Nora?  What if she really wanted to write ala Susan Sontag?  Her publisher would not let her.  Who is the tyrant now?  Look what happened to Stephen King when he signed that big book deal.  Oh yeah...he put out a book a year, but were they GOOD?

Ok, sorry about the rant.  Just say what you think.

  • I'm too tired for this conversation....

    You don't leave much for anyone else to say. ;)

    If you want to be successful in terms of finances, then yes, you have to make your art, whether it is a novel, a film, or a comic, marketable. You will not be a success if your product does not sell. That's the bottom line. However, if you are creating for yourself, and yourself alone, then you are already a success. If other people happen to like what you do, more power to you. Having fans is well and good, but we should not let them govern what we produce.

    I draw women without noses. People will look at my sketches and say "Where's the nose? Why doesn't she have a nose? You should draw someone with a nose." For many, many years that was all I heard when people would watch me draw. Then along comes this doll company called Bratz, pretty fashion dolls without noses. Now when I go into a store, pictures of these dolls are plastered all over everything from clothing to posters to lunch boxes. No one asks why I don't draw noses anymore. Women without noses are marketable. So creative expression is reduced to a dollar amount.

    I'm not sure I made my point, I'm feeling more than a bit groggy. All I know is that this current trend of massive audience participation in deciding who goes and who stays really gets to me. I took my sister to the ER last week, and American Idol was playing in the lobby. This was my first experience with this show. It made me feel physically ill.

    Leave art to the artists. Let them hold up the mirror without restraint. Its their job to create, not sell.
    • Re: I'm too tired for this conversation....

      I am reading a book about comics called Understanding Comics (and its sequel Re-inventing Comics) by Scott McCloud. He talks a LOT about the comprehension (hermeneutics) of comic books and by association, art. He takes a photograph of a face and removes detail from it until it is a circle with two dots and a horizontal line. He is showing that the photo represents one person. Each feature that is removed makes that face "resemble" more and more people until finally the very deconstructed image represents ALL humans. In cartooning, the simplified image allowes the MOST number of people to identify with that character...which finally brings us the the idea of the MASK.

      Now, the Bratz phenomenon (I had to stock these books in my stores the last two Christmases, Vean!) reminds of of this deconstruction. The faces are very very strange, basically exaggerated Eyes and Lips. The appeal must be completely subliminal. I think this same concept is behind some of the appeal of Manga. Very simplified renditions of humans. Only hair style and color to distinguish characters.

      I never noticed the lack of noses. The eyes in your art are so striking they draw the viewerto look there. You did put a nose on Audrey, though.
  • It's gone midnight and I've been drinking wine -- yeah me!
    I agree with Vean -- you haven't left much to say LOL
    However... While modern technology may have made this process more transparent I don't think it created it. Writers and other artists have always looked to audience reaction to help them create their work. They might choose to ignore it, but they are aware of it. Didn't Mr. Lloyd (*I * have not been invited to call him David) become aware of you as he was checking for audience response? As I said in a different posting, Shakespeare *had* to concern himself with bums on seats. He not only had to keep the peasants quiet (the bit with the Dog-berry, sorry for that) but he also had to please his patrons... Richard III a *hunchback?* hah!

    Art in all of its forms is about the *expression* of ideas -- about communicating those ideas to others. >> What becomes of art no one wants to see anymore? << the same thing that's *always* happened. It disappears or they stick in a museum.
    The English poet Adrian Mitchell wrote "Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people." BTW -- he's a great poet and political advocate who gives readings at rallies and on campuses.
    • I imagine you run into this issue on campus WAY more than I do in a bookstore...well, no. I run into the mass media aspect, but you run into the idea of the artist and of creativity.

      See, I am a fierce supporter of the arts. Not with massive amounts of dollars...I AM a mere bookseller afterall...but with influence. I make decisions every day about where an artist's (author's) work is displayed, how many copies of a book we have in stock...etc etc...and MY work is judged by supervisors by how well the stores' sales increase. None of this reflects on the actual quality of the art or literature. !!

      You, on the other hand, deal with people whose jobs do influence the selections for students based on quality. Our jobs are in the same field, but with opposite criteria! Fascinating. And as for David Lloyd...well, you know how I feel about him. What HE does with his work is up to him, but I can imagine he has "supervisors" (read: art directors) who say, "I want this and this and this" and he has to give it to them, whether he would prefer something else or not. I look very carefully every time I see something he has done that puzzles me. I think I can tell just how much freedom he has had in a project by the lines on the paper. I can tell. I can see. Art directors stifle creativity too.
      • There is a further question here also contained in this >>Art directors stifle creativity too<< What about the good ones? The ones whose *gift* it is to encourage/develop art. I am not a particular fan of Thomas Wolfe, but his books as we know them wouldn't exist without his editor who waded through box loads of paper to "form" Wolfe's books. What would Eliot (I see you're a fan) or Yeats be without Pound? I am more than prepared to believe any artist who says they create only for themselves, but they still create art to "communicate" -- an idea at the very least. I don't know if you've done any reading in the area of hermeneutics.
        I don't know if I'm making any sense at all at this point. We all bring our subjective experience, life luggage if you will, to any philosophical debate and mine is a mis-matched set of luggage if ever there was one. I am the lucky recipient of a traditional socratic-method based bastion-of-the-Empire education. This was followed by undergraduate studies in Literature, 20thC film studies (illusionist, anti-illusionist, political, documentary and onward) and drama (see above film description). Graduate school in Literature and Cultural studies. I've been a film maker, an actor and a curator. I nurture the great art classics, cradle them to my bosom, sing soft lullabies to them. I taught undergraduates for four years, worked in copyright for a publishing company, worked in a McBooks off and on for two years, worked in public and university libraries and currently am a hired gun in a teaching allied field at a university... I'M CONFUSED! I cannot help but see this question from all sides. I write pulp fiction (but read very little of it) and anti-illusionist plays. Hopefully my pulp fiction is a little smarter and funnier than the standard stuff, but only a little ;-) My favourite theatrical review I ever got for one of my plays was "The play was thoroughly funny, entertaining and interesting, but I still don't understand what it all means." There's that word interesting again... *Wades away in a sea of confusion*
        • (Anonymous)
          Well, "all sides" is exaclty what I am getting at, and yes, I understand you perfectly. I did not want to muddy things by trying to define art...or even talk about the criticism.


          You have touched on something that begs further discussion, and that is the COMMUNAL aspect of art.

          Incomprehensible art serves two functions: 1. It breaks the ice of a new genre. ie, artists coming after, writing or painting in the "new" style, will one day be as mainstream as Rockwell or Kincaid. LOL and 2. it expands what you may be alluding to when you say hermeneutics. Without a thread of comprehension that exists BEFORE we see or hear something new, what we are seeing has no place to go in the brain. How that individual brain then interprets the new data becomes completely subjective! (I would love to discuss hermeneutics with you! Lets start another thread.)

          Art MUST be communal in that sense, lest it lose its PURPOSE...which is to communicate truths.

          So, yes. Good editor and good art directors can guide and bend and mold an artist who needs it. A weak or insensitive art director or editor can smash that delicate filament which connects the artist to his muse.

          Which is which? How to tell? That is what makes this all so infinitely fascinating and satisfying to the art lover.

          And you have an impressive resume. I am incredibly humbled that you have praised my work, Drayce. This adds a level of intesity to your criticism (both good and ...critical) that I appreciate immensely.
    • Um...forgot to log in. Hopefully it is OBVIOUS that this was ME. LOL!
      • Well, I *guessed* it was you, but I couldn't be certain. It wasn't in the least bit sick and there were no titillating knife blades *whistles*
    • Impressive resume or dilettante? You decide... my mother already has ;-)
      The fascinating thing to me about the response to my plays was that the "Joe Smiths" in the audience understood it -- it was the "professionals" who didn't LOL

      I am NOT interested in savaging anyone's creative work on-line or anywhere else for that matter. Practically everyone I've ever met has a creative element in their soul and that should be fostered for all our sakes. However, if you look at any of my reviews it is pretty easy to spot the difference between "encouraging noises" and appreciation of talent. If I didn't think you were talented, I wouldn't have bothered to exchange 27,000 e-mails (at last count LOL) with you concerning the last chapters of Allegro. I knew the moment I read them that something was missing. I *still* think you should post it.
      • >>I *still* think you should post it.<<

        I will post it if you promise to say something that defends the integrity of this particular ending.
        • Easily done. I can just cut and paste selected *chapters* from those 27,000 e-mails LOL.
          If this is the deal, then a bargain is struck. *spits into hand* -- OK, so it's not hygienic, but surely better than drawing blood ;-) As I've blogged elsewhere, my time for accessing the Gallery is unpredictable until the weekend. If you want to post then, I will endeavor to be close to your first response. I noticed your EMD posting and can't wait to read it. I am struggling to find five minutes to check my own EMD lunacy over to see if it should be posted or drowned.
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