Commercialism

AKA: My views on things that matter

I happened to be reading an article by Cliff J. Burns on “Setting the bar high,” where Cliff writes about being committed to producing quality work (as a writer, in his case).

While I don’t agree with all of Cliff’s views (not that they’re wrong perspectives — I just have different personal goals as a writer), it inspired me to “say something” about the dismal situation of 100%-commoditization by the mainstream mass media.

I’ve kept quiet about it for some time, but after reading his posts and some other websites (particularly a collection of essays on arts and culture, by Venice muralist R. Cronk), I finally realize how bad the situation is, and that artists/artistic types do have a certain amount of responsibility to do their best to combat the mind-numbing effects of consumer capitalism/commercialism/commoditization.

I’ve added two articles to jessINK, on the ill effects of 100%-commercialism, and why quality still matters (and how ‘elite’ is not the same as being ‘elitist’).

Some excerpts:

I now see how commodity production has completely replaced originality and innovation, with regards to mainstream creative work (books, movies, music, etc.). Everything is dictated and driven by the almighty dollar. Money is God, even as mass society continues to espouse values and virtues which its members have been told/encouraged to aspire to (that the ultimate goal in life = “financial success”), but not necessarily subscribe to (can all the money in the world really buy a meaningful existence?).
— Commoditization and The Death of Art

Art doesn’t have to be “high-brow” or “difficult to comprehend” in order for it to be considered art. Art contains a spiritual aspect, where it has the power to speak to a person on a deeper level, and is therefore remembered (as opposed to a commercial commodity, which many people try to emulate in the hopes of “making money”). Artistic quality and accessibility are part of the same equation. Elitism = snobbishness. Since when did being an artist mean to be “arrogant and annoying”?
‘Elite’ isn’t the same as ‘Elitist’

As a person/author/artist, quality matters to me, and I can no longer “sit back and keep quiet” and watch commoditization and commercialism continue to overtake mainstream society, at the expense of something meaningful that matters. I know that businesses are in business to make profits, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of exploiting mainstream society (see two paragraphs below).

Some people have told me that it’s not the fault of the mainstream mass media for “giving people what they want” (and that “a fool is born everyday…”). While I don’t disagree with that entirely, I DO think that the mass media has a tremendous amount of impact and influence in shaping the norms and values/goals of mainstream society, which is why my sentiments are mostly directed to the mass media, and not mass society.

What I’m most annoyed with is that the mass media, instead of having some sense of moral obligation to society due to its PERVASIVE MASS INFLUENCE on society, has absolutely zero moral conscience whatsoever, and is completely motivated by the post-modern religion of consumer capitalism.

Movies studios and major book publishers are all owned by parent companies (which means the power is held by an extremely small group of people). How is this not a form of mind control on the masses, when everything that the public can view/consume in the form of entertainment/infotainment is dictated controlled by the few key people that are right at the top of the economic food chain?

As a fellow writer/artist wrote to me via email:

“The independent artist might be the last bastion against the grand, hegemonizing mindset of corporate scum everywhere — one world, one people, one wallet. Screw them and their mercenary mentalities.”

Artists (and artistic/creative types) are the ones who can make a difference, because of the engaging/spiritual component of art (which directly combats the de-spiritualizing effects of consumer capitalism/commodization/commercialism).

I do what I can everyday (to contribute something worthwhile to society via the work I do, basically). My goal isn’t to be a billion-dollar author. My goal is to have enough money to live a simple life where I’m able to do meaningful work I enjoy.

As an author/artist, I’m happy to do what I can to counter the negative effects that commercialization has imposed (and continues to inflict) upon current generations.

It’s a duty I don’t (and will never) take lightly. I’ve always wanted to do something that matters. I understand it’s not an easy road to take. But if more and more artists and creative types refuse to be gulled by promises of fame and fortune, then maybe, just maybe, a true cultural revolution could occur, “[where] the creators of culture resist trends toward despiritualization and commercialization. . .[so that] a rejuvenation of humanitarian values could happen in a ground-up scenario.”

That is something I ultimately aspire and desire to be a part of. Also, because I understand that if artists stop fighting, that’ll really be the end, where Big Brother wins.

* * *

I’m currently working on The Darker Side of Life (Book02 of my Cyberpunk Elven Trilogy).

Here’s a tentative try-out cover and a little bit of info about the book.

THE DARKER SIDE OF LIFE (Book #2) — forthcoming; early 2012

Book #2 in the Cyberpunk Elven Trilogy.

LOGLINE / SUMMARY (tentative): A hybrid offspring combats a dark elf’s scheme to exploit and turn a virtual reality system into a weapon of mass destruction.

COVER ART: I wanted a central mainstream/edgy graphic (initial idea = black ink on yellow background, semi-mangaesque feel). Below = first version. I have an idea for the sketch/graphic for the last book too, but I’ll get to that next year.

elf

I’m about 1.5 chapters into the first draft. I spent some time coming up with an outline, which I’ve been following quite closely so far.

One of the themes I’d like to explore in this book is the negative influence(s) of the mass media (I’ll do my best to “weave it into” the plot somehow). One thing I’d also like to see more of is a presentation of love/romance/sex that doesn’t follow the current fluffy, formulaic love triangle trend of the present commoditized variety. Gawd, it’s been done so many times I choke just thinking about it I like to create what I have trouble finding ;)…

P.S. I think one can tell a lot about a person, from their views on sex, money, and music (and maybe books/films/etc…but music, especially).

About Jess C Scott

Writer/Blogger/Activist @ www.jessINK.com View all posts by Jess C Scott

7 responses to “Commercialism

  • Cliff Burns

    A-men, sister.

    Helluva manifesto and I hope others rally beneath your banner and start creating art purely for art’s sake.

    An impassioned cri de coeur and I’m pleased to lend my puny voice to your noble cause…

    • Jess C Scott

      Indeed so, and much thanks. I’d say your voice is more ‘forceful’ than ‘puny’ but that’s just my opinion :P

      I think a talented artist is able to understand the needs of the community/audience they are engaging (via the work/art they do).

      The more artists develop their talent (which takes time/effort/discipline), the better. I will not be a writer/artist that succumbs to bullying tactics as to why the commercial way is God’s way.

  • e6n1

    This is so true. I also wish the gatekeepers would give the audience more credit and stop insulting their intelligence.

    • Jess C Scott

      Yes — the thing is that junk will always have a market, so maybe that’s why there’s more and more junk coming out via the mainstream mass media (it’s the most “reliable market”).

      I’m not too sure whether the “people in charge” look at quality anymore (in all creative industries — books, movies, music, etc). Everything is overly commercialized. There was a time where it used to be 90% substance 10% image. Now it’s the other way around.

      Personally, I find it more satisfying/fulfilling to create what I wish to see. I always keep the following quote in mind:

      “I criticize by creation, not by finding fault.” ~ [Marcus Tullius Cicero (Ancient Roman Lawyer, Writer, Scholar, Orator and Statesman, 106 BC-43 BC)]

  • Post-Literate Society « Jess C Scott :: Author, Non-conformist, Artist

    […] Literacy represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from print. I think the real writers (those who write for some kind of purpose other than to make money) may have to shake off their attachment to the label of “real writer” so as to better be able to “infiltrate”/engage via a route/method that suits a post-literate climate. This way, the focus goes back to society on the whole (and what people hunger for on a deeper level — not on the level they’ve been made to believe “is right” as a result of the mass media + consumer capitalism). […]

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