Screwing over artists, writers, musicians, and the like seems to be a universal historical and current pastime. Sellers of art, the fucking Ferengi amongst us, jockey to get the largest slice of the artist’s pie. And it seems like by and large, the artist themselves are left by the way side. Driven to toil, for little to no gain, while always having to fend off predatory snake oil salesmen.
Art, the written word, the heard note… they are the only permanent creations which withstand the test of time. We don’t go to museums today to see some clever investment scheme from back in the day. We go to see beauty and truth and visual wonder. We don’t go to music venues to ohh and ahh over financial notes older than Methuselah. No, we go to be transported by one of the only things which engages our entire brain in a global process. To fucking have a party in our ears.
Almost no other thing, other than artistic endeavors, last for eons, moves us until time immortal.
And we shit all over the producers of these wonders. Some try and exploit. Others cluelessly engage in behavior which places creative people in economic jeopardy. While still others, just stand by silently on the sidelines doing nothing, saying nothing, pretending to see nothing.
I’m not sure which of the two sideline-standing behaviors is the worst. Knowing and doing nothing. Or being clueless, oblivious, totally unaware. Who do we think is making the orgasmic smorgasbord for our eyes, ears, sense of touch? How do we think they are living? On what? Our good feelings?
Every time Amazon changes it’s terms of service or a publishing house engages in predatory practices or supporting cast members of the writing community slings mud, it makes me angry. I think back to Renaissance artists having to live off the largesse of their benefactors, and I’m not sure what we’ve got is too much better.
While the publishing industry is rapidly evolving–and not in a good way–I can’t help but think… thank god, I’m not in the music industry. Because they eat their young over there. Vicious, vicious bitches making tunes and stuff. Not the artist, although they can be back stabbing assholes as well, but the parasites who live off the work of artists. And I can’t think of a different term, a nicer word. Parasite will do nicely. It fits. And is wholly appropriate to many situations which seem to crop up in that field.
The creators of all that is beautiful, true, stack, real, lasting become fodder for sacrifice on the alter of profit. It is the nature of that exploitative, parasitic behavior which values the work of creatives far more after death than during life. After all, when they are dead, it’s pure profit. When the creator is alive, at least some small part of the value of said art must necessarily be shared with the creative person. Because while sometimes, it is the artist and the artist progeny who benefit, many times it is not. It is a predator.
Sadly, I don’t foresee this changing until we get new models for how we value contributions to our society when viewed in longevity terms. By my calculations, artist should get huge stipends to create. But then, I dream a lot. I’m a writer, after all.