Wednesday, May 4, 2011

can the arts "mark to market"?

Generically speaking, an investment should be continuously evaluated based on evolving circumstances.  I'm wondering if the same sort of approach should apply to appreciation of the arts.

Here's a specific example: should Led Zeppelin's music be evaluated in relation to current rock&roll, or i it's original, historical context?  Put another way, if there had never been a Led Zeppelin, and then in the midst of your 2011 media consumption you heard Dazed and Confused or Stairway to Heaven...what would you think?

I'm curious about TV as well...I caught a bit of an All in the Family episode recently, and it struck me as a reasonably good chunk of entertainment, with a good mix of social commentary (some of it dated, but not all), and some explorations of more universal themes (gender relations, husband/wife dynamics, working class struggles).  But the show is SO different from current sitcoms (and dramas, depending on which category you drop AITF into)...say, for example, if you wanted to compare AITF to 30 Rock...both shows use some exaggerated caricatures to make fun of our society, but the plot lines of a typical Liz Lemon episode are generally going to cover many narrative threads, where I would suspect that the Archie Bunker episodes generally dealt with one or two.  So would today's audiences consider AITF a "good" show?

It's irresponsible to have this conversation and not acknowledge the influence of earlier art on what comes after...would there be a Coldplay if not for U2?  But still, as consumers of art and media, we have options on how we allocate that consumption, and that leads back to the initial question.

This post was inspired by me listening to Stairway to Heaven and realizing that, while I enjoyed it, the song could also be taken as grandiose and maybe a bit cheesy.

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