A Different Take on having Popular Media [was Re: On Media and Priorities]
- A very interesting letter by Eric Raymond:
Why "High Art" is in Deep Trouble
I wrote this in September 1997 as a
letter to the "Philadelphia Inquirer" in response to widespread
lamentation over the shutdown of Phildelphia's last full-time
classical-music station, which sent many refugees over to run a half-time
classical format on WRTI, the area's only full-time jazz station. Both the
classical and jazz communities vented a disgusting amount of self-pity
I appreciate both jazz and classical music, but I'm fed up with the
whining of the people protesting the WFLN/WRTI format change. Let's face
some facts here -- while the jazz and classical traditions gave us works
to stir the soul in past times, they have become commercially nonviable
because their communities chose to marginalize themselves.
The self-surrender of classical music to a sterile, scholastic
avant-garde after World War I doomed WFLN to the status of a fading museum
of antiquities before that radio station was even born. The hankering of
dance-band leaders to be seen as high artists after World War II sapped
jazz of its vitality. Both genres have been steadily losing market share
for decades because they deliberately turned their backs on the mass
audiences they formerly commanded.
I would like to see both genres flourish again. I would like to see two
or three competing jazz stations and classical stations in every city. But
for that to happen, the jazz and classical genres are going to have to
somehow break the stranglehold of the elitist, "avant-garde" thinking that
only considers art worthwhile if it is difficult, inaccessible, or ugly.
In this century the disease of avant-gardism has largely laid waste to
self-conscious art of all kinds. It's time for artists, academics, and
critics to face the fact that they (not the mass audiences they hold in
thinly-disguised contempt) are responsible. And it's time for those of us
who still believe great art can speak to everyone to dump the elitists
overboard and vote -- with our dollars and our feet -- for great art that
is not ashamed to be popular.
Shlomi Fish shlomif@...
Home Page: http://t2.technion.ac.il/~shlomif/
Home E-mail: shlomif@...
He who re-invents the wheel, understands much better how a wheel works.