The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #15411 Message #137918
Posted By: Jack (who is called Jack)
18-Nov-99 - 11:52 AM
Thread Name: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
Subject: RE: BS: Capitalism and the Arts
This is an old arguement, only they used to argue about 'professional vs. amatuer'. The former working for money, the latter presumably for love. For all the flaws one can identify in its execution, professionalism nearly always motivates any field to which it is applied to higher levels of creativity and excellence than existed before its introduction. The problem with assessing this effect in the arts lies in the fact that in art, excellence and creativity are very subjective terms, influenced by the fashions of the day. Unlike baseball, to take an example, where the issue of who's the best home run hitters are is not a matter of taste. Sure you can argue about McGuire or Sosa, or Ruth vs. Aaron, but you don't argue about whether or not they are better than the local slugger on a sandlot softball team. Nobody complains that the latter is unfairly denied the freedom or financial support that the highly paid major league players get. Nobody faults the requirements of 'the business' that he 'learn to hit the damn curveball and we'll talk'. Yet this arguement is constantly made about musicians and artists when 'the industry' judges them similarly, and its easy to see why. Is Eric Clapton a better guitarist than Leo Kottke? Is the the music of Duke Ellington better than the music of Frank Yankovic, or Frank Zappa? Even more illustrative is the fact that the ability of a musician to work in a wide variety of styles on a variety of instruments doesn't necessarily increase his or her rank, recognition and marketability. In fact, you will find that when a musician strays from a particular style he will more often than not be bombarded with accusations of selling-out or betraying some abstract sense of artistic integrity or purity. Anyone who's read this forum with any regularity will recognize this phenomena, but its not limited to folk and traditional music.