Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Economy Sucks, Unlike Art

I was just in my car, listening to NPR, and some guy who's some economic something-or-other was just blabbing on about our 2 trillion dollar debt and Obama's economic stimulus package blah blah and what a mess our whole world is in. Honestly, I'd have listened better, and would therefore have better facts to present to you at this time, but my mental stability can't take it anymore, and I was only half-listening. Fine, I agree, everything sucks, unemployment is skyrocketing, we're killing our planet while simultaneously slaughtering our future financial stability as we attempt to shovel ourselves out of the shithouse that is our economy. Fine. That sucks. But I can't hear any more of it. I can't hear any more professionals nodding and twittering, "Yes, yes, we're all so depressed, it's hopeless, we've really done it this time, everybody is just shit personified." Fine! It sucks!

Keeping my feelings on this subject in mind, let's investigate what happened next.

So, when the NPR-interviewee-man started talking about how the economic stimulus package was getting all these other issues tacked onto it, which was slowing it down and cluttering its success rate, the female interviewer asked him for an example. And he said, "Well, for instance, the arts." You could hear the surprise in her voice when she asked him to explain why arts funding was not a worthy appropriation for the money being doled out. And he replied that sending money to arts organizations was useless. He literally asked, rhetorically, how anyone could think building a sculpture or going to the opera would stimulate the economy?

Now, let's remember, I came into this interview midway. I was not there. I was not totally listening for most of it. But goddamn it if that jackass is going to be interviewed on NPR and I have to listen to it. The arts are always the first freaking thing to be blamed and shat on. It was always the first department cut when the school board needed more money for the football team. Can't afford math books? Cut the band program. Reading music is a waste of time. And clearly, there are no jobs in the arts. I'm sure the Metropolitan Opera stimulates no one. Certainly, if it wasn't around, the singers, conductors, musicians, stage hands, supernumeraries, ticket sellers, lighting and sound technicians, costumers, stage managers, stewards, janitors, food and beverage vendors, printing suppliers, wig makers, makeup artists, florists, and administration wouldn't care. Oh sorry, you misinterpreted how I used the word "stimulate?" Sure, I'm sure none of the audience members would care either. I'm sure no one ever really gets anything out of the opera anyway. Antique, artsy crap, if you ask me. And everyone's so fat. We have a problem with obesity too in this country, you know.

I think what pisses me off is the epic proportions of disregard for the arts. A hundred years ago, theaters were second to brothels. If only we'd stop dicking around and get real jobs. Like banking. Or digging ditches. Or as financial advisors.

My only comfort is the truth that, try as the world might to ignore and suffocate the entire existence of the arts, artists are cockroaches. You could nuke the whole goddamn country, and who would be left? Poets. We're used to feeding on scraps and sleeping in corners. We'll survive you all.


The Intellectual Redneck said...

The Postmaster General is trying to scare Congress. He is threatening a mail delivery cut. He said the mail delivery may be cut by one day a week. The Post Office threatens mail delivery cut

Carl Benson said...

Right on T - and beyond the people who are directly employed by the arts (stage managers, singers, designer etc) the arts have a HUGE impact on local economies. When people go see a show they alsu usually grab dinner or a drink at an establishment which employs waiters, bussers, dishwashers, cooks etc. They also frequently take cabs. They also have to buy tickets - for smaller comanies this means going through ticketing websites which also employ people. And not to forget the publicists of those companies, the janitors who clean the theaters, the companies who make what those theaters sell at concessions etc.

Fuck that guy, and go you Teresa.