Is creativity killing the culture?

The Twin City Daily Planet posted an article by Michael Fallon, one of their critics, called How creativity is killing the culture. In it, he suggests that encouraging everyone to be creative has resulted in “a nation of navel-gazing dreamy-eyed so-called creatives who no longer
consider it worthwhile to roll up their sleeves and get down to hard
work to get a job done, or, even worse, who no longer deem it worth
their time to bother checking out any of the stuff that anyone else has

Obviously part of the point of the article is to start discussion (flamebait) more than I think he’s really serious. In truth, it seems like he’s burned out with his job and is tired of going to gallery shows by bad artists.

The meat of his argument is that people shouldn’t show bad art to an audience. Two hundred years ago, most of the creativity you would come in contact with was probably pretty bad. The art you would see and the music you heard was produced by local artists. Only the great art survived, so it seems as if they were better than now. Then, when performances could be recorded and art more easily distributed, there was a time when a very select group of editors and writers decided what was good and what should be seen. Now, the role of the critic is being diminished in value and that probably hurts if you’re a critic.

Today, you have access to music and movies that would never have made it to mass distribution even twenty years ago. Is there a lot of bad stuff? Of course. I haven’t seen an increase in the number of bad gallery shows here in Seattle, but the competition has increased.

I agree with him that I see a trend amongst creative types to not pay attention to what is being created by others. Great writers read, great chefs eat at other restaurants, great musicians listen to music, if you aren’t an avid consumer of something, why would assume that you would be able to create it?

But, I say if you get pleasure from creating, by all means create – just don’t assume you’re producing something of interest to others. If you do want to share it, be prepared to be ignored. Even if you produce something great, be prepared to be ignored or dismissed. So has it been, so shall it be.

The rush to creativity has increased the amount of art produced, but I don’t think the percentages of good to bad art has changed. There is more good art, there is more bad art.  That means critics have a numerically larger number of artists trying to get reviewed and a larger number of bad artists.

I’m going to include one more paragraph that to me seems to describe the way the world has always been. There was no magical time of fantastic art in the past.  It has always been extremely easy to create something and extremely difficult to create something great.

From my vantage point, the zero-sum creativity spiral has some
strangely counterintuitive and dreadfully harmful results. Most
worrisome among these is the fact that the constant lip service to
creativity leads to the creation of more and more stuff—art and music
and writing and the like—that is actually not very creative,
uninteresting, of poor quality, and off-putting to any potential
audience. This may seem an impossible thing to stem from such a
feel-good sentiment—more creativity must mean a better world,
right?—but the problem is that more emphasis on creativity means less
emphasis on what it is precisely that makes art good. It’s not the
simple act of making—of creating something, anything—that makes art.
It’s the application of craft, dedicated practice, careful thought,
hard work, and artfulness that makes art. Real creative art is a rare
and precious thing and this will likely always be so.

I guess, to him, it would be better to discourage creativity. That way, he would have far fewer artists to deal with.

Read the article here

One response

  1. This makes me chuckle to myself because michael was, in fact, being creative. He questioned he norm and created his own idea and thoughts. I applaud him for being so creative! 🙂 Thank you, I think we need more creative people like you!


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