in this march instalment, i’m returning to media arts education with focus on “value” in the arts, and a case for how focussed creative intuition and ambition can elevate us into a new dimension. ok, this is again, a tad philosophical in it’s form – but still worth checking out. i hope you come hungry! welcome to my “Chicken McNugget” – yeS!
there are many perspectives on the value of art and music. some see the “popularity” of a phenomenon or movement to be intrinsic to it’s “value”. this is a valid approach and necessary to understand for young people who wish to become successful in media arts and being on top of what’s hot in our western pop cultures culinary awakenings. i always taught my students in production class that it’s essential to know 1. What works 2. Why it works and 3. How it works – in order to successfully integrate into any “system” of art and business as of course, one needs the other to survive right? there is no doubt that the two go hand in hand. as “educators” in media arts in particular; it is our important duty to inform without prejudice or judgement – around every modern systems co-dependent existence – especially if it is popular. it is our responsibility to report the news with integrity and accountability. so what’s the problem? ok, forgive my little brain fart here, but this is where it get’s confusing for me still, maybe this is what sets apart the “men from the boys” in modern education. maybe THIS is why i no longer “teach” media arts – maybe i just don’t get it. so what’s my point? what all too often “works” … is American Idol, what all too often works is the BIG mac, what all too often works is the movie “Transformers”, Coca Cola, Lotteries, Chicken McNuggets, Barbie and Ken with a side of Justin Bieber! what all too often works – is mediocrity.
that being said … what works, why it works and how it works is the foundation of our times, and is the wave of the future if surviving in style is on your list of things to do. if you’re “out of the loop”, you shall remain just that – being ignorant isn’t really a bad thing is it? staying clear of judgement around “nutritional” value (and long term health), creates just that many more options and opportunities for our future yes? – opening new doors to that which could bring us prosperity and happiness / contentment – like making serious money! now you’re paying attention. Chicken McNuggets – ok. maybe there’s another perspective and brings about an opposition. in having no informed judgement, we are easily led into thinking that mediocrity is what ultimately makes the world go round, and that “fame, fortune and glory”, can be fast and easy, yes the bling and the blur – all you need to do is sign up and place your order. ok, at 55 this year and having been kicked around a bit i may be getting crusty in my old age – but something is seriously out of whack here. it’s in this ongoing discussion around “value” do i sometimes get confused. the wise and benevolent instructor again … “so this is this and that is that … you decide”, that’s our job as teachers, and that’s a good principle to stand by ethically speaking and it’s safe – bottom line – popular is good right? ah political correctness – staying neutral – and letting others who we influence decide for themselves. i’m all for it … BUT – what if?
yes mediocrity works for some (most) and not for others – in comes target market demographics, corporate projections and promotion strategies, frequent flyer miles and club points on our secret stash of plastic, our membership privileges and our missing creativity. it’s what we’re raised to believe and accept, what it’s all about – “back of the line please … we’ll call out the numbers … be patient … you’ll get it – don’t worry. we’ll slip that 100% pure beef patty – right in between those soft warm buns – just the way you like it”. ok, let’s take the taste challenge together, because i KNOW you must be starving by now – this delicious Chicken McNugget has been manufactured to sheer perfection – check out the smell! OMG – that processed, mechanically deboned chicken part – succulently bathed in industrial oil and coated with that delicious banal chemical oh but crusty coating – and ever so meticulously spiced just perfectly for joe and fran average and especially their clueless gadget clad kids – because it’s all loaded with refined salt and sugar. mindfully deep fried just the right amount of seconds – and ready to be pounded into that awesome selection of special sauces you can choose from – yaY. that nice smile and that “have a great day” – driving away. yuM. value made in heaven! “it tastes real good doesn’t it honey”? i LIKE it! Billions Served – now THAT’s my kind of testimonial”.
on the other side, for others it may be not watching television at all, but listening to Van Morrison in a high end restaurant while absorbing prime rib, fresh asparagus and sipping on vintage merlot. later watching that Alfred Hitchcock, Tarrantino or Polanski film again for the 8th time and finding something new in it still. doing yoga and meditation instead of rushing to the gym and working out in front of the same mirror every day – grounded – authentic and truer to our nature. art and science can co-exist together i think. all in balance – yes? that being said? i’d have to give my new friend, the Chicken McNugget a grade based on performance – lacking in style and grace – insight and illumination …
Ignorance is Bliss
perhaps this is where i am showing my weakness as your adviser, your consultant, but i don’t really care – in my observation – all too often, that which works – FAILS! i’m thinking that maybe – just maybe there’s more to life than mediocrity. maybe telling my kid that she should watch “idol” because she might “learn” something about how the music business works? not possible. she’s already informed – shit! that all too common “lowest common denominator” is what we’re forced to look at every day. choices? ok we all look at everything right? it’s important for us to see what’s going on. i guess it’s all about what we ultimately “subscribe” to, even if it’s delusional and we buy into it. our education system is often just a conduit for reflection in greed and protection – promoting that which benefits those in an elevated position.
maybe, it’s all about where you are in the food chain. maybe ignorance IS bliss? maybe “what we don’t know won’t hurt us” … maybe, this is the way it should be. maybe all we need to do is to learn how to pull the strings and refine our rhetoric, frame the formula and pitch our new prize. newsflash: i think a few billion people in Libya, Egypt and most of the middle east – yes even tens of millions in our own continent (only because we’re spoiled rotten) – might disagree with that right now but hey – as Bob Dylan once eloquently whispered – “the times … they are a changin”. which-ever road you choose? it’s all in the choices. right up there on that sterile back-lit menu board. “sir, would you like to make that a combo”? ah … that familiar titillation in the senses. counting the “loose change” in our pockets …
all these choices – or so we think – can’t decide.
ultimately, i prefer swiss chalet over mcdonalds – better chicken
maybe … we just need to learn how to get with the program …
“yes, please – i would like fries and a drink with that”.