How rots art

Content is king, goes the latest whisper. But is trash really out? Can access to quality be so easy when its very creation is unpredictable, iffy? Content is a product of its time.

Published: 01st December 2019 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st December 2019 01:48 PM   |  A+A-


For representational purposes. (File | Reuters)

Content is king, goes the latest whisper. But is trash really out? Can access to quality be so easy when its very creation is unpredictable, iffy? Content is a product of its time. The abundance of anti-classics from other eras testifies to this. Which is why we blithely refer to certain art as ‘before time’ or ‘dated’. 

We enjoy an amalgamation of current tastes, our understanding of history and a political intelligence that transcends provincial loyalties. Even then the dregs that remain in our cups point to what stays for posterity and what doesn’t—this too a subjective and hasty act. Box-office profits and sales figures for books or newspapers speak one truth —the temporary truth—while a deeper view could discern inflated numbers, trickery, use of force. 

Ethics go missing in boardrooms and bohemian studios, in the quiet bylanes of human interactions, where taking credit and creating meaningful data are intertwined in a toxic embrace. In the artistic area, visibility can be monetised and thus ensues the fake-news culture, or taking gullible audiences for a ride, even if the latter are willing preys. 

Society as a whole being more passive than aggressive in securing new and original content must suffer one generation down the line, trying to swallow bad art and indifferent cultural expos as they clap with manicured hands. Prioritising a safe and secure atmosphere, ensuring fresh voices and talent platforms, grooming young blood to take over as free spirits of the future... a lack of these sees the same old same old strike us between our eyes each time.

Butt lifts, botox, breast enlargements, rhinoplasty, rib removals for wispy waists and jaw surgeries... Aesthetics are in constant flux, courtesy credit cards. An artificiality that seeps in from the outside. Parroting ‘woke’ anthems, going by tried and tested tropes, any experimentation a sneaky backdoor entry. The apology demanded by the ‘offended’, the apology delivered by the ‘offensive’, and the ‘offence’ itself untouched like a baby left at an orphanage doorstep.

The dangerous trend of gifting gifted genes; singers breed singers, actors breed actors, CEOs breed CEOs. Professions handed down by doting parents, deaf to nepotism charges. A spectacular lack of talent implodes screens, taking for granted nostalgic sentimentality on the part of the ageing viewer. Deserving candidates are at this point mythical and therefore not worth lamenting. 

Those pushing the envelope, burning the midnight oil, writing rebel poetry etc are not pushy enough. Their voice fades or is muffled even as they open their mouth to speak. Fear reins them in as much as a lack of welcome. 

We read what others read, we swoon over leading men others swoon over. Content then is a matter of familiarity. In faces as well as voices. What is seen before, heard before always a smooth flow, while others have to prove themselves right unto our unsmiling visage, our un-clapping hands. Meanwhile, art rots in a basement.

This season’s awards are being announced; and we are in the running for best audience. Our smirking smug mugs go up on the screen, nominated for ‘the most accepting of tripe’.

The writer can be contacted at

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