Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sadly Ecstatic That Their Heroes Are News

Over at Advertising for Peanuts, Jim Morris has a bug where one prefers a bug not to be. He’s got a rant up about all the images and songs and idols of his youth that he believes have been “sold out,” willingly or not. He takes on falling pianos (a staple of Warner cartoons), morphing (that was cute the first time), talking babies (ditto) and – for reasons I swear I don’t understand – Bruce Springsteen.

Them’s fightin’ words.

There’s no argument that mass media advertising is in serious need of another creative revolution. Talking babies. Talking animals. Yadda-yadda-yadda. As Hal Walters observed [at a link I can’t find], it’s like the 1995 Super Bowl was a campaign and now all we’re seeing are the pool-outs. But sometimes (see image) it’s done right.

Still, Morris’s rant against artists like Dylan and The Who (among others) is beyond the Pale. There’s a dominant narrative that something is either “art” or “commercial.” This narrative must be refuted at every opportunity.

What was the Sistine Chapel if not advertising? Did Mozart compose what he liked or what the Habsburgs would fund? Who paid Toulouse-Lautrec’s bills, anyway?

Writers tend to focus on songwriters in these arguments. When was the last time you heard a writer complain about Fitzgerald going to Hollywood or Arthur Miller reworking scenes after previews?

Me neither.

As Dr. Johnson famously wrote: “No one but a fool ever wrote except for money.”

Present company excluded, of course.

But anybody with a beef against Townsend or Dylan or Beethoven for that matter for profiting from their own work ought to re-examine their understanding of what a work product is.

Or, if it’s easier, I can provide an address where they can mail their paychecks if it helps them sleep at night.

I’ll assume that burden for them.

P.S. – Springsteen? Really?

Image Cred: Hal Walters

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