There is a sterile sheen of lameness overlaying the various media we ingest to entertain ourselves on a daily basis. It hasn’t always been (completely) like that. Everything seems so safe now, so distanced from the sublime nature of the art that has really mattered to anyone in the past.
All the music is very polished, pristine, ‘pleasant’ even when it’s not supposed to be, and safe. The most vicious, brutal, sneering metal or noise is just as empty and ‘nice’ as the most banal of pop tracks released by the most awfully vapid stars.
The films are all formulaic, even when they try their hardest not to be. We get an endless stream of mind-numbing comic books, hobbits, vampires, zombies, soldiers, couples with relationship troubles, single gals trying to make it in the big city, blah blah fuckity blah.
We’re supposed to be in some kind of new ‘golden age’ of tv but it’s really still the same bullshit age; they’ve just gotten better at masking the bland and formulaic nature of their swill.
Of course, there are exceptions, but I’m talking about the overall feel to it. This superficial gloss that coats over it all.
Art has moved from being commerce to being content. In the 20th century, art was finally completely commercialized. In the 21st century, we’re seeing a new era emerge. Where before a piece of art, a product, became commerce, and was marketed, sold and consumed, now, art is created as content, that is, it exists essentially as that which is contained in a larger whole. So, it’s value as mere commerce is eclipsed by its value as bait to get people to use the overall services of a content aggregator, such as a website, or netflix, spotify, etc.
Thus, what we will see more and more as we move along on this progression, is an even greater corporate homogenization of the art that gets filtered for us to see and hear by our corporate overlords.
In the 20th century, the process of mass manipulation of public tastes went into overdrive when radio, and to a greater extent, television, came on the scene. It was now easy to create a ‘national consciousness’ like never before. Expectedly for a capitalist society, this became a highly corporate endeavor and much time and capital was spent developing ways to manipulate the masses for greater corporate gain. An entire industry has developed around the goal of manipulating and controlling people through advertising, and their homogenizing tentacles are everywhere.
Naturally, such an industry is going to be involved in the commercialization of art. In the 20th century, this meant neatly filing artists into comfortable ‘genres’ and marketing them accordingly, if necessary strong-arming them into complying with what’s expected. In the 21st century, it means something beyond the simple product/marketing model. In the 21st century, everything is filtered through the lens of ‘content.’ Music, movies, tv, books, these things are all merely content used to generate advertising and/or subscription revenue for content aggregators.
The result will be safe, sterile, bland, homogenized corporate art becoming so pervasive that exciting, visionary, forward-thinking art won’t stand a chance.
The reason, is because that’s what we are doing. We are feeding this thing. Instead of seeking out art that challenges us to think in new directions, as a society we’ve chosen to go see the new buttfuck of a movie by Marvel Comics and then listen to some corporate asshole’s new abortion of an album as we drive home from the the Appelbee’s we stopped at afterwards to fatten ourselves up before bed, where we won’t dream, because we don’t really do that anymore. We have Netflix instead.