Sunday, February 11, 2007

Abridged Arts

"People had longer attention spans.... The works have been abridged to make it easy, more accessible for the TV generation."
Mikhail Baryshnikov

I clicked on a link tonight that asked how many were planning to watch the Grammy Awards. Welcoming the chance to say, "No, thank you, I have better things to do," I was pleasantly surprised that the majority of voters agreed.

I love music. I used to watch all of the music award shows years ago in order to get a chance to see some of my favorite singers and musicians. And then came the MTV/VH1/CMT generation where we could watch them anytime we decided. I did watch videos for a while. Rarely able to attend concerts, I used them as a substitute, having them on as often as my radio, or nearly. Now they are all over the internet. Is it any surprise award shows have lost their charm considering the availability of picking and choosing who we want to watch instead of whomever the powers to be decide to invite?

As a curiosity, I did click the link that told me who was nomimated for the top three awards. After wondering if I had the right list, I could see why so few are interested in watching. Has music declined that far? There was not one act I care to listen to on the radio, much less waste 3 hours of precious time seeing who comes out "ahead."

I posted this in my daily journal and another writer replied it's the same in the writing world. "Poets" who so apparently haven't studied the artistry and technique of poetry are publishing their works. Essays are nothing but rants without real thought other than fleeting anger. Journalists who have forgotten or never bothered to learn the concept of integrity of the written word abound in print and online. Where is the artistry in the arts?

I am an advocate of the indie arts. I'm an indie artist. The internet has become an incredible tool for those outside main genre publishing, in both music and writing. Readers and listeners now have many more choices than one of the niches that big companies pick up and put out there. Artists now have a free venue with which to promote themselves. It is a wonderful thing.

On the other hand, it has also given some a false sense of "art." The number of works being pushed out into public view without being ready is alarming. I receive many, many friend requests from indie bands on Myspace. I don't mind getting them, and I always go give them a listen. Many I add because they do have talent and I like their sound. Most now, I refuse, either because it isn't my style or because I flat-out can't fathom why someone told them they were ready to publish their music.

The same applies to writing. I can go to a writer's site or read their emails on a writing list and know they can't possibly be someone I want to read. Yet, they are promoting books they've published, likely without professional editing. Some writers can get away without professional editing, as long as they have someone else reading their work to find things a writer cannot see in her own work. Some are attuned to grammar and only need an extra eye and suggestions about the plot or characters. Some have incredible stories and a nice way with words and only need grammar assistance. Some have neither, and yet, because they "wrote a book," they decide it needs to be published.

Poetry books are being published without the "poet" realizing it takes more than rhyme and a certain number of lines to be actual poetry. There's an artistry missing that cannot be faked.

There is artistry missing in much of the arts.

In this TV generation, we are full of the glitz and glamour of things without bothering with quality. Our actors don't have to know how to act. They only have to know how to put on a show and flash their smiles. Our politicians don't have to be well-trained in how to command or lead. They have to be charming and look good on our screens. Our singers don't have to know about the intricacies of music. They have to be actors who can make those clueless about music vote for them. Our writers don't have to train themselves on the techniques of plot, characterization, climax, endings, sentence structure, or poetic use of words. They have to know how to create book trailers to catch attention with "book videos."

Of course there are exceptions. There are many indies doing glorious jobs and I love that they have the means to let their work be known. I only wish the artistry would come before the promotion instead of our arts becoming so abridged.

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