Disclaimer: This article is NOT meant to criticize or insult any particular genre of art, music, etc. or any particular artist; I’m here to relay information about a pattern of opinions that I don’t believe are helpful to building community in the creative world.
Today, I want to open up about the more resentful thoughts that can invade the headspace of other writers, musicians, and other creators. Admittedly, I’ve wrestled with these in my writing and music career, so I wanted to talk about them now.
You may have heard some of these before.
“Why is all the popular music these days just mass-produced, soulless, and a clear abuse of autotune, while smaller musicians with more talent get drowned out by the radio brainwashing?”
“Why is a banana duct-taped to a wall being treated as fine art, while artists who work hard on their skill never get famous?” (I am fully aware this particular case was an act of trolling, but my point still stands. There’s actually a good article on the banana by GQ, which you can find here)
“Why are all these problematic YouTubers getting millions of subscribers, while the wholesome, smaller content creators get steamrolled by the dreaded algorithm?”
“Why are poorly written books with plots as hole-y as Swiss cheese snapped up without question by publishers and fans, while quality works get rejected?”
To boil it all down: why is so-called “trashy” stuff getting so much attention they may not deserve?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of a mythical past of [Insert Creative Industry Here] denying what is Truly Art™ and welcoming in the soulless, corporate-minded mass-produced “trash” that is pushed onto us on repeat. I’m willing to bet smaller artists felt the exact same way about Elvis Presley or Charles Dickens back in their respective time periods. On one hand, it can be frustrating when something like writing or music (something I for one take very seriously and put a lot of my passion into) seems to be oversaturated with people who don’t seem to take it as seriously, and even may be doing for a quick cash grab. I personally wouldn’t even think of publishing a novel without revising, editing—through an editor or otherwise—and enlisting the help of beta and sensitivity readers, so it grinds my gears so badly when some writers don’t seem to do that, and they achieve massive success. On the other hand, the sheer quantity at which these artists are producing allows them to compound their income—also, I have no room to judge because they’re published and I’m not. It’s tempting to resent the artists that we perceive as opportunistic, talentless, and undeserving of fame, and put ourselves on a pedestal that, to put it bluntly, is more than a bit sanctimonious.
Where there is a business system, there will be people who find ways to make the system work for them, even if they’re in it for money and fame rather than passion for their art. It’s a harsh reality that in our world, quantity works better for a lucrative career than quality, and popular and predictable tends to sell. That doesn’t minimize how frustrating it can be if you put hours and hours of skill into your craft and it gets looked over for something that seems slapped together in comparison, but it nonetheless needs to be accepted. If we want to focus on quality rather than quantity, that’s fine, but we also have to accept that comes at a cost (figuratively and literally).
I also need to remind myself of the fact that, as much as I don’t want to hear this, I’m not entitled to success if my art gets published or released. It would be nice, but a successful writing career, for example, is not something I “win” because I was a good little writer and tied up my loose ends, wrote dynamic, round characters, and used the Oxford comma. On a more positive note, however, success for another writer doesn’t necessarily mean a loss of success for me; this can allow for artists to lift each other up, rather than tear each other down. I write and post my YouTube videos because I have nothing to gain if I don’t release them, and it’s something I like to do. Sometimes, I feel what little new and exciting material I do have to offer will get lost in the noise of the Internet, and it’s then that I have to remind myself why I create, and that there is room for all of us.
Have you dealt with this feeling before? How have you handled it? Let me know in the comments!
Thank you so much for stopping by! Until next time, stay magical, everyone!