Well it was bound to happen. The art community has entered the eighth circle of hell. Dante’s waist-deep piles of excrement, or whatever punishment he assigns for the sins of narcissism and self-indulgence, will soon be filled with artists from all over the country. Why? Because here in New York they are waiting in line, “cattle call” style, to hopefully be cast as “contestants” on a new reality TV show.. A “struggling artist” reality show. Like “Survivor” and “Project Runway” and “Top Chef”.
This morning over a cup of java, I read this New York Times article, and almost spit my coffee all over the place. My first reaction was, “Oh come on! This is going too far!”. I’m not a snob, I swear. I’m not even a staunch “purist” by any means. And I certainly don’t begrudge artists the ambition to succeed, be discovered, and get their foot in the door. I just really, really dislike reality TV.
Remember when reality TV first came on the scene? It was fine at the beginning. A little stupid, yes, but a harmless novelty. Mildly entertaining, emphasis on “mildly”. But is it just me or have things gotten completely out of hand? Now EVERYTHING – all professions, vocations, and aspirations – are being converted to a shrill competition format. They even have these shows for hairstylists and dog groomers! WTF? And since ratings are the most important thing, the shows are designed to bring out the nasty in their contestants and encourage the most uncivil of behavior. I hate that. I mean, has anyone seen “Bridezillas”? Oh my god. I watched about three minutes of that horror and frantically changed the channel back to my beloved PBS. That’s three whole minutes of my life that I’ll never get back. If Dante were alive today he’d invent a separate circle just for those Bridezilla bitches.
Is the creation of art even suitable for the aggressive, fast-paced tone of these reality shows? It seems so antithetical. Here’s a quote from the Times article in which Nick Gilhool, one of the producers, ponders that very question:
Mr. Gilhool said the main criterion in picking artists was to create a show that “people in the art world will want to tune into every week to actually see the work.” But he added that the fragmented and raucous nature of contemporary art would probably make it trickier to produce than competitions dealing with more straight-ahead creations like food or clothing design. What would be the equivalent, for example, of a “quick-fire challenge,” the part of “Top Chef” in which cooks have to whip up a dish lightning fast? Life drawing with a stopwatch? Found-art scavenger-hunt race? Best postironic conceptual gambit in under a minute?
Ugh. That sounds like a disaster. The next thing you know they’ll create one of these heinous shows for art models. And THAT would be a real disaster! It’s bad enough that we’re blogging on the Internet 😆