Someone to Save Us All
Every few years, some new band, writer, artists, comes along with a clever idea. Sometimes that artist radically changes the course of their given art form. Other times, the artist hearkens back to a past time, offering a new perspective on an old idea. Almost every time this happens, the relevant media (magazines, reviewers, etc) lauds the artist with too much praise, or criticism. One common phrase-(Insert artist here) has saved (insert art form) from certain demise. Fresh roses after piles of manure.
So and so saved rock and roll, modern art, fiction, film.
Nope, not in the least.
Every art form has peaks, valleys and plains. Some periods are more interesting to more people but no particular period is an eternal determent to the entire art form.
Publishers, record labels, major film studios exist to make money(and there is nothing wrong with that, right). They exist to provide entertainment and education for people, at a cost (again, which is fine). These organizations work best when good art and profit combine. Good being as subjective a term as you can imagine it to be. It is the theory that talent scouts, agents, etc. are seeking those with the most talent to write books, music and film. I like to think art being displayed at a gallery is of high quality. We expect the music we buy to be performed by talented musicians, the books we read to be by written by good storytellers, good researchers, good writers. Sometimes it is.
My experiences in music have lead me to believe that rarely are the best artists getting paid or getting big record deals, which leads me to wonder the same about other art forms. I don’t know enough about underground writing, art, movies to make a judgement, but when I look at music, I see the best are often making music in obscurity.
Which leads to this- If you find the current trend in art, fashion, film, music or fiction to not be your cup of tea, do some searching. You will find that your favorite medium is not in any jeopardy. Someone, many actually, are out creating some of the best (insert medium) you have ever seen, heard or read.
Our current information age lets more of us find each other, discover art that moves, music that inspires and books that spark imagination. Not everything being self-published is worth finding, but then again, neither is everything put out by mainstream organizations.
One of my favorite authors gave this speech on why self-publishing sucks and publishers rule http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jun/06/john-green-never-self-publish?CMP=twt_gu
It’s mostly crap, but there are some good points. Quality editing is a must. If you write something, let someone else read it with the sole purpose of finding mistakes (there will be plenty), but good editors are not exclusive to publishing companies. Good marketing is the best way to get your work widely read, heard or seen, but the advent of social media has made it much easier to reach a target audience without having to resort to paid marketing. No good works are ever produced in an isolated vacuum. Art is at its most poignant when it is shared. This includes the creation process. Getting opinions on ideas, direction, whatever can only serve to make whatever you are creating better. Again, this is not exclusive to publishing houses, record studios or the like. People you already know or can easily seek out are just as valuable a resource.
American literature is not in trouble, nor is music or film. It is as it always has been, shifting, progressing, regressing at times, but the more of us involved in making it, the better off it will be.