Prediction: Dead On

I favor defunding of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Not because I’m against art. Far from it. This blog. and my talk show, perhaps the Twin Cities’ finest two pieces of political performance art, should be proof of my commitment to art.

t the lesson is straight out of Econ 101; if you give people money to do something – in this case, to make art that may or may no be garbage, but matches some funder’s agenda or another, people will line up to take the money.

Now, I’m not sure that this “installation” last week was funded by the NEA:

According to a press release from the activist group Indecline, over two-dozen “men and women of color and members of the LGBT community” placed leashes and custom made dog collars on white men in red M.A.G.A. hats and walked them on all fours up and down Hollywood Boulevard on Sunday.
The group says that their “performance” was based on Cardi B’s recent Twitter battle with Tomi Lahren, in which the crass rapper told the right-wing pundit,  “Leave me alone, or I’ll dog walk you.”


(Note – vile misogyny is apparently OK if it’s a “conservative” you’re misogynizing).

But on another level, even if there wasn’t a single penny of NEA money behind it (and I can’t imagine there wasn’t, at some level or another), the whole farce is a symptom of the sort of entitled, smug, cliched “art” that arises from “artists” who have little to fear financially, and nothing, really, to fear socially.

To say nothing of critically.

16 thoughts on “Prediction: Dead On

  1. All the best people will approve of them – whats to fear?

    The NEA is just a modernized WPA for people with college degrees.

  2. If the gateway pundit claimed that the sun rose in the east, I’d get up early the next morning to see if it was true.

  3. MP,

    True, as a general rule (hence my credit line), but I’ve seen other sources on this “event”.

  4. When I see publicly funded art, five will get you ten that I have the same response that Dave Barry once had to paneling in the basement of a house he was looking at: “Who installed that? Vandals?”. At least the old aristocratic patrons of the arts actually bought things they liked looking at, and were spending money that they knew could not be spent on something else.

  5. If the NEA and the NEH don’t fund public arts and humanities, who will? The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation? And that will be different, how?
    You can’t fix the culture by electing politicians, and directing spending and passing laws.

  6. I have long believed that government has a role to play in the arts, on the basis that art has a “civilizing effect” on the populace. The mistake that gets made is to not recognize the difference between capital and expense. Pick a town that does not have an art gallery, for instance. Government could come in, build one and then promptly turn it over to a non-profit group to operate it, including what to charge for admission and what art to display. Display stuff people want to see, and thrive, or display this wacko stuff that offends people and leave the building vacant until somebody with good taste and good sense wants to try.

  7. Artists don’t want to make the art that people want to enjoy. The esthetic taste of artists is different from the esthetic sense of the people who pay the artists. Hence, the bureaucratic middlemen of the NEA. It’s a broken mechanism: people give money to politicians with instructions to use the money to support the arts. Politicians don’t know anything about art, so they give it artist-academecians to distribute. The artist-academecians hand it over to people like themselves, who aren’t into making the kind of art the masses think that they have paid for.
    This doesn’t happen in the hard sciences. The NSF’s failure is on the social-science side.

  8. MP, I think that many, most or all of those who call themselves artists are not. It’s just another grift.

  9. One thing that kills good art, in my view, is federal subsidies to higher education, especially Pell Grants and student loans. The trick is that in days of yore, an aspiring artist generally apprenticed with a master who had to be good enough to make a living sufficient to hire apprentices. As a result, there were certain standards of beauty and craftsmanship that the system tended to enforce.

    Today, as long as you can persuade a university to admit you, you can get grants and loans to cover the cost of tuition, and the same entity has a strong financial interest in keeping art students enrolled because their education isn’t that expensive–you need studios and galleries, but not the expensive lab equipment that you need in the sciences and engineering.

    As a result, the university’s interest is well served in turning out mediocre artists, and it shows. This goes for theater, visual arts, sculpture, etc..

  10. Wow. It looks like we ought to make universities partially liable for student loan defaults and then see what happens to enrollment. Looks like I was way too nice to university art programs, as their graduates are completely failing to break into the field.

    And “Instant Club Hit” by the Dead Milkmen (a.k.a. You’ll Dance to Anything) comes to mind here.

  11. This doesn’t happen in the hard sciences. The NSF’s failure is on the social-science side.

    What do you think motivates the Glerbal Werming consensus?

    We could spend the rest of the day cataloging the science quackery that grants fuel.

    Though I agree it’s not very common in your particular field, MP, it’s widespread as anywhere else.

  12. Good point(s), Swiftee, although a guy might say (OK, gaslight) that the term “hard sciences” is specific to physics and chemistry. Only. And doesn’t include AGW or any of the other, apparently less-hard, sciences in which lefties have undue influence or domination.

    On the other hand: “In relation to the scientific disciplines there is a hierarchy in which the ‘hard’ sciences such as physics and chemistry – where men are found in their greatest numbers – are higher status than the ‘soft’ sciences, such as biology, where there are more women.”

  13. If you don’t follow the scientific method, it’s not a hard science.
    Rutherford said: “There is only physics. Everything else is stamp collecting.”

  14. Regarding hard sciences, one thing that’s very troubling to me is to see how much intrusion the government makes into that and engineering these days. Not that there should be nothing from government, but increasingly they’re trying to call the shots. Not good.

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