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On the awfulness of talent shows

Susan Boyle. This blog post isn't really about her.

Is it really true, as Jonathan Jones writes in The Guardian, that there is currently a dearth of artists with new ideas who enable us to look at the world with fresh eyes? His main complaint seems to be that people think talent alone defines what makes a good artist, and then this becomes debased in the idea of discovering artists through talent shows. He’s talking mainly about pop music shows such as American Idol and The X Factor, but there is an art world equivalent (ArtStar on Bravo), and I agree with him that such shows are ultimately very depressing because of the limited way that they define what makes a successful artist (hint: it’s about appearing sufficiently glamorous to the voting public). But really, these shows have nothing to do with the state of culture as a whole. Dig around enough in history and you’ll find a Jeremiah in every age who wails about the decadence of his contemporaries. There is a lot of good art being made by a lot of good artists, most of whom will not be selected for ArtStar or for the Whitney Biennial. They are making the culture of their times, even if the art critics of the broadsheet newspapers aren’t writing about them.


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