27 November 2012

Whoop de doo

Another fooferaw over an artist painting a “crucifixion” canvas depicting a current celebrity.
Let’s say for the sake of discussion that the painting really is rubbish.  The people who are protesting, were they born yesterday?  Welcome to a herd of kneejerk rabble, happy to live into the observation that those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.  Their protests are the best publicity which a (we are saying for the sake of argument) talentless, unimaginative, unknown artist could wish for.
I don’t actually remember the protests which greeted Monty Python’s Life of Brian (which, A. is a brilliantly funny movie, and B. even Christians will tell you, is not blasphemous) here in the states.  But the protests, the press events, the placards, all contributed to the film’s initial commercial success.  (Its artistic quality merits that success, but let that slide at present.)  It was far better advertising than the Pythons themselves might have arranged for their own film.
The film of The Last Temptation of Christ.  A photography exhibit including the image of a crucifix immersed in what we were invited to regard as urine.  An “icon” of the Savior done in elephant manure.  The artistic article being protested varies widely in actual cultural merit, but in every case, the protests serve as publicity.  And in the case of those bits of “art” which are of no particular cultural value, the protests themselves are money in the charlatan artist’s bank account.  “Look,” the artist says to those institutions which fund artistic endeavor, “these protests show that my work is Vital, Meaningful, Important!”
You unthinking nitwits, expressing pointless outrage over a meaningless picture:  the unimaginative artist is only half the problem. You, the mass of enablers:  you are equal partners in the sham.
And for every unimaginative, talentless hack whom your protests accord fame and recognition, there are ten genuinely talented artists whose work has nothing to do with controversy, and who will die, unrecognized. Because your orchestrated outrage is enriching the pot-stirrers.

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