Can you make it more like South Park?
Television, despite all the billions of human labor hours that have been spent making stuff (and that is what TV is all about, making stuff..just like painting or sculpture), has produced for the most part nothing but garbage. Endless millions of hours of garbage. Day after day. Week after week. Year after year. People eating bugs. People selecting which briefcase has the money. Guess who’s coming to decorate.
It is beyond depressing. It is an embarrassment to our culture and to our civilization.
The question, of course, is why? Why do we, despite the billions of dollars spent on TV and the billions of hours devoted to it, continue to produce garbage?
Because creativity requires a personal vision.
When Picasso wakes up and gets the vision for Guernica, he simply goes up to the atelier and starts to paint. This is how great paintings are made. This is where genius comes from. If we ran the world of painting the way we currently run the world of TV, Picasso would get the vision for Guernica, and then he would write a proposal to PPS (The Public Painting System). The tile of the proposal would be “The Guernica Painting: A Proposal”.
THE GUERNICA PAINTING:
A Proposal for a Major Artwork
By Pablo Picasso
The Spanish Civil War is an event that has capture both the headlines of every major newspaper as well as the popular imagination of the nation. Yet what is the Spanish Civil War, what does it mean the average person. I hope to capture this feeling through an intensive, yet highly personal presentation of the impact of the fascist government’s bombing of one small village: Guernica.
The work will be largely two dimensional, painted on a canvass, with images of people, cows, and a lamp………
You get the idea.
Well, Picasso writes the proposal, (along PPS published guidelines), and, in time, (like about 6 months or so), the Guernica Project makes its way through the PPS review system. It is looked at, in committee, by a number of very well known PPS painters, as well as administrators for the PPS system. They generally like the proposal, and they may even fund it, but they have some suggestions to make.
The Public Painting System
Dear Mr. Picasso,
Many thanks for your recent submission “The Guernica Painting Project”. We at PPS read it with great interests and I am delighted to tell you that you are on the ‘fast track’ for approval for commencement of the painting.
We do, however, have a few small problems with the proposal, but we are sure that you will be amenable to making some changes to make the painting more ‘audience friendly’.
1. This is a War painting. As you know, it is not our practice to fund War Paintings, as they do not fall within the PPS guidelines for ‘good paintings’. However, when we do fund war paintings, we have found that museum audiences generally respond best to something heroic, and a victory. (Washington Crossing the Delaware – both very heroic and uplifting – generated our greatest audience response during the museum fundraising drive three years ago). Your Guernica project, while dealing with a war, has neither a hero, nor (how shall we put this?) a happy ending. Please re-think the focus of the painting. While the Spanish Civil War is a very noble and worthwhile subject with which to deal, we would rather see you focus one or two ‘heroic’ personalities in the war (perhaps one Republican and one Fascist – to give an all important sense of balance…something we really like around here).
2. On another subject, we have spent a great deal of time (and money) focus grouping your most recent work. I have to tell you that audiences in our test markets of Cleveland and Parsipany, New Jersey, did not react particularly well to your work. This can, of course, be disappointing for an artist, but we have found that by paying attention to the results of focus grouping can greatly increase audience response numbers. When you come down to our offices in Washington, we will be happy to go over the specifics, but one point was driven home again and again. You must put the eyes back into the faces. People find this particularly distressing…..
This, in fact, is how TV is made. That, and once Picasso does get his funding for The Guernica Painting Project, he has to go out and ‘book’ a union paintbrush holder, a union paint holder, a union canvass mover. And, of course, all of them work only from 9-5, with an hour for lunch, and a five-minute break every hour. They will, of course, work overtime, but that is at their discretion, and only for time and a half, which will drive up the budget for Guernica.
Well, of course, this is going to produce garbage. And that is what you see on TV. Garbage. And that is the reason that what you see on TV is garbage. Not because the people who work in it are dumb, but because the way we have ‘architected’ the system is antithetical to creativity.
It is as though, with the invention of TV, we consciously set out to crush any way for the medium to foster creative vision.
If television were a marginal activity, like video art, we could afford to ignore it. To let it continue in its own, meandering and painfully mediocre way. But television is not that. For better or for worst, it is the single most powerful medium of communication in the world today. And it would seem that it is only going to continue to grow in power and influence. And that is why it is critically important that we stop, at this juncture, and say, OK. We have been doing this all wrong up until now. But it is not too late. We must rethink how TV works, what it is, and how we use it.