Is Commerce Our New Thing In Common?

I watched the beginning of The Founder on the weekend and it got me wondering. In an age in which we do so much to customize our lives (and, thereby, beliefs/experiences), are brands the only way to transcend differences now? I mean, yes, brands often align themselves politically too, but they’re less likely to do so to an extreme degree, if just to keep their customer base inclusive. And stores/businesses provide a meeting place for people that isn’t supposed to discriminate according to race, gender, ethnicity, age, ability, etc. (Of course, of course, they still do sometimes, but they’re not supposed to discriminate, even against people who don’t have money.)

And if this is true, that brands are all that’s left than can bring multitudes of people with vastly different concerns together…what does that say about art?

One theory?

That art must increasingly become commercial in order to survive. Even the “political” art that everyone’s into now is actually more branded as “political” than it really is “political,” because it all adhere’s to the same template, it’s all championing a popular agenda.

But if art becomes more commercial, I can see it becoming increasingly ineffectual as well. Because popularity demands mass appeal, which in turn demands a watered-down message (like the Kool-Aid you dilute for a crowd). And the more you water down, the less you taste of something.

Maybe this is why some circles endeavour to keep art exclusive, to protect the integrity and value inherent in the work. But. It’s hard to believe that’s the reason, when you read books that seem bound up with the personal neurosis of their authors, and you wonder if writing is even an art anymore or if it’s just a self-help strategy.

It’s been a long day. 😉

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