Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Don't blame TV for the cult of celebrity

Not the picture in question. But
a good one - whoever painted it.
We often hear moaning about how TV has exposed us to the cult of celebrity, where people are valued simply for being famous, not for what they produce or perform. I think it's very short sighted to blame TV - the real culprit is the traditional arts, which no doubt would snootily blame TV, but actually started this cult of celebrity long before Logie Baird came on the scene.

Take a point of example. We have recently heard that a 'fake' picture allegedly by Leonardo da Vinci could be real. If this is the case, the picture, which last sold for £14,000 'could be worth millions.' Now either this is a great work of art or it isn't. If it's great, it should be worth a lot of money. If it's not, it shouldn't. Why does it matter whose name is attached to it? That's just a matter of celebrity, as much as paying money for the rights to Kerry Katona's latest exploits. Who made the picture is irrelevent to whether or not it's a great work of art.

It's the same with music. Whether a piece is by Mozart (say) or one of his less famous contemporaries, it shouldn't make any difference - merely how good it is. Anything else is just idiocy riding on the back of celebrity.

Note this doesn't say there's anything wrong with expecting something interesting from paintings by Leonardo because he's a great artist. That's just like wanting to read the latest book by your favourite author. It makes sense. But when it comes to the value of an individual painting that should stand alone. After all, even the best author can produce a turkey, and the best book you've ever read could be by a new author.

Behold, the cult of celebrity in its worst possible form - and it's the art world that keeps it going.

Image from Wikipedia

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