The increasing celebration of mediocrity in western society

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  01 January 2013
Can we please leave the absurd paranoid conspiracy theories out of this? There is no "global elite" or government participation in the manufacturing of iPhones or stupid blockbuster films.

And no, that's not "what they want you to think".
  01 January 2013
I guess one thing that we can agree on is that thee is feeling that people attitudes seem to have changed.
I feel stongly that there a strong perception out there that talent is something you are born with, and not developed.

And programs like XFactor & American Idol have not helped one bit.
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  01 January 2013
Interesting thread here.

I agree on the whole celebrating the mediocre can lead to artificially inflated egos, but I really don't think it's a new phenomenon.

My mother used to tell me my little drawings from grade school were amazing, but I never let it get to my head.

  01 January 2013

When judging other people work, I usually try to find 2-3 positive and 2-3 negative points. No matter how well or bad I actually think of the picture itself.
Its surprising how constructive you can get by doing so.
  01 January 2013
Originally Posted by tischbein3: Addendum:

When judging other people work, I usually try to find 2-3 positive and 2-3 negative points. No matter how well or bad I actually think of the picture itself.
Its surprising how constructive you can get by doing so.

Well that is one way to analyze some piece of art so to say, you have at least ten, but I believe if you truly wanna analyze something deeply read some work from Erwin Panofsky.
  01 January 2013
Leigh, what we're (both?) experiencing here is that many have troubles with reading between the lines and summarizing/condensing one's reply into the aimed message.
I like to explain myself through use of (sometimes simplistic) examples and instead of people replying to what I mean to say they're actually starting to pick apart those examples :-\
Resulting in my post being converted into conspiracy/paranoid context.
Anyone reading it carefully should have understood that the driving force behind this is mostly social and psychological.

Though the result is useful for the "global elite" (I agree we shouldn't debate about this, however I do disagree with you that there's no elite in the world) I don't believe there's a deliberate campaign to get these results through iPhones or blockbuster movies.
It has been said before here that people naturally can't take criticism and this fits nicely with the conspiracy/paranoid arguments as it's easier to blame others for manipulating you than to admit you're falling for it.

People want this themselves, obviously, they don't care they get dumber/less aware about what has (artistic (in this topic)) value in life and definitely are becoming less interested in forming opinions through reading/watching/visiting musea etc.
If I talk with others, who you can consider "mediocrity appreciative", they often say "I don't care and I don't like to spend hours of reading/watching things to understand what's going on in the world of art, science, politics, etc... All I want is work to make money, buy nice things, go on vacation and then die."
Well, they don't say the last thing for fact, but to me that clearly sums up my sarcastic opinion towards people who think like that about the many interesting aspects of life
  01 January 2013
Originally Posted by AJ1: My mother used to tell me my little drawings from grade school were amazing, but I never let it get to my head.


Yeah but theres a difference between just your mom telling you and everyone on deviantart telling you.
  01 January 2013
Originally Posted by LuckyBug: Well that is one way to analyze some piece of art so to say, you have at least ten, but I believe if you truly wanna analyze something deeply read some work from Erwin Panofsky.

You don't need to read books to develop common sense or how to analyse and criticise
At least, not on the level we're discussing or criticising work here, as we're not here because it is our profession being here.
Maybe if you're a critic by profession as a reviewer.

Anyone with average social skills and empathy knows that one of the best ways to motivate people to go on and improve, is to both tell the weak and strong aspects of whatever they're doing.

I don't think it clearly needs to be 2-3 for each specifically, could also be 1 or 2 good aspects and 3 or 4 bad ones.

Key is still to be constructive and Mister3D tried to outline some mechanisms on being constructive as well as critical at the same time, without making the person in question feel bad about him/herself as a person, but making the person realise it's about their output.

Last edited by Tangled-Universe : 01 January 2013 at 02:10 PM.
  01 January 2013
You don't need to read at all, still it wont hurt to read something useful.

Last edited by LuckyBug : 01 January 2013 at 02:47 PM.
  01 January 2013
The other day I saw a parody where some highly intelectual chaps were admiring a bucket of paint in the middle of a modern art museum. The heated discussion about the message of this "art piece" got interrupted by the dyer who forgot his stuff there...

The line between mediocracy and truely mastered art is really hard to define IMO, especially these days. Believe it or not, even art is about "marketing". It's something I realized when I learned that Picasso, secretely bought all the paintings of his first exhibition by himself at an unheard of price.

Of course, it's true that mediocracy has hit an all time low. Rest assured tough that it's not just in western cultures, and not just in art. But globally, from the food industry to politics and media etc...
"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex & more violent..." Einstein

Last edited by mustique : 01 January 2013 at 03:33 PM.
  01 January 2013
The best learning period I had was a few years back when I took a job as a CAD technician. Where I worked previously I was the best CAD technician they had (honest ), So I was very surprised when after submitting a drawing to my new boss it came back half an hour later covered in red notes asking for changes and improvements. It had so much red on it, it looked like a butchers apron

I must admit to being a little resentful at first, then I actually looked at the drawing, and had to admit that it would actually be better if I made the changes. The next drawing I submitted had less red on it, the following had even less. After a few weeks the standard of my work had dramatically improved. I was now working at a standard I hadn't even considered previously.

I could have kept my initial resentment and carried on doing things my way, at which point I probably wouldn't have lasted too long, and more importantly I wouldn't have developed or improved.

Whilst I haven't agreed with every piece of criticism I have ever had, I have learnt to try and asses it impartially.
Kernow bys vykken!!!
  01 January 2013
Modern 'fine' art is a very recent invention. The idea of 'Art' with a capital 'A' did not exist a few hundred years ago. Before that it was the 'arts', which descended more from the crafts. Seeing 'art' in a purely contemporary perspective does a disservice to what an high level of quality the arts can have when not held back by the requirement of having museum labels that need to 'shock' or 'discuss' or 'question'. If anything I would say that the perversion of high art has lead to a greater acceptance of mediocrity as it can easily be portrayed as vapid and meaningless. A lot of postmodernism in all the arts has not helped the case for art's elevation.

Originally Posted by LuckyBug: You don't need to read at all, still it wont hurt to read something useful.

I would say that without reading you can be a fine craftsman but your work will always lack an intellectual edge.
Dinner Date - Stout Games
  01 January 2013
I see it as a long term consequence of extreme capitalism, or something: now everything is for sale and if you can't sell yourself, you are pretty much finished.
So parents advertise their kids and kids advertise themselves. At one point everybody starts to believe its own advertisement.

I noticed something really odd.
In the big pile of shallow and stupid row models, at one point appears a pilot who crashed a plane in the Hudson river and saved everybody. He made several appearances on different shows, where the training necessary to be a pilot and the psychological strength to land a 50 tons object without engines only barely came up. Everybody focused on the emotional side.
Then in the show American Dad they make fun of him, by saying "you are milking it" and "you should have avoided the geese in the first place".
Even if one man gets some attention for a really good thing, they make a circus out of him or they minimize his achievement.
the one button to render them all
  01 January 2013
Originally Posted by leigh: everyone is told how special they are, where any kind of critical appraisal is increasingly considered inappropriate for fear of hurt feelings

Originally Posted by leigh: Instead, people are patted on the backs and told to "keep at it", without being given any real guidance whatsoever. So they do keep at it - and stagnate at that point without progressing.

I think that starts from childhood, where "new" models of parenting tell us every kid is a delicate flower that can't be told when he did something wrong or learn responsibility and instead he should be taken to the local therapist to be given some medication for his "excessive energy". In Portugal we also had some new education laws attempts to reduce flunking at school (for EU statistical purposes), where basically nobody skips a grade until University (which is taken care of with dumbed down access exams, because we don't want some nasty factor like "not studying hard enough" to disrupt the process do we?) and parents go to school to argue if the teacher reprimands the kid for beating his classmate or being disrespectful in class (parents and even kids assaulting teachers for it is a recurring event in some schools) and not having basic education or interpersonal relational skills developed at home like it would make sense to happen. This promotes that some of this kids reach adulthood with an over-protected personality (if they have one), where they can't handle critics apart from the "you're a star" rhetoric, and when reality hits them like a train, it all falls apart because they didn't develop structures to cope with that. I think you notice those types more because they got older, got jobs and now they aren't the anomaly, they are becoming the norm, they are the new teachers, the new artists, the new deciders.

Originally Posted by leigh: The point I'm getting at here is that we now live in a society where every shitty photo on Facebook is given loads of thumbs up and "wow, amazing!" comments

And because those shitty photos weren't promoted enough, they created another social network called Instagram just for those who think sunrises need filters on top

Originally Posted by leigh: Your cousin Sid just bought one of those fancy cameras with the detachable lenses and can shoot the thing for free, surely. Taking photos isn't hard!

I commented something similar on that thread of the CG artist that was afraid to lose his potential customer. The knowledge is massified, everyone can learn the technical skills that used to take a lifetime and $$$$ to get a hold of and they forget it also takes work, dedication and lots of time to master, not being a plug-in process, where just because you have access to the best artists knowledge you become one instantly, like Neo learning Kung-Fu.

Originally Posted by leigh: And I think that, just like someone who goes to university and spends years studying law to get a good job as a lawyer, someone who puts in that time to develop and master artistic skills also deserves to be able to make a living putting their skills to use.

Originally Posted by leigh: Invariably, when bringing up this topic, someone crawls out of the woodwork with the tediously inevitable "all art is subjective" chestnut. Sorry, but no, I don't buy that. There are some things in the world of art that are objectively shite.

I was fortunate to listen this quote live on a comic book art lecture: "People say tastes and art are subjective. Well, they aren't, there is good and there is bad art, and this is why you go to school". If you add "or even if you don't go to school and just dedicate yourself to learning with the resources we all have at home" i think its perfect.

Originally Posted by leigh: My concern is that if things continue in their current vein, in a few decades we could end up with a world where the truly creatively skilled can no longer stand above the tide of mediocrity that's swamping them, and that people may no longer be able to make a reasonable living in their respective creative pursuits.

In case you haven't, i'd recommend you to see the movie "Idiocracy". Its all over the top, but still, the core message is there

Originally Posted by leigh: I also fear that those with real potential are being impeded by feedback which doesn't challenge them to improve, which instead encourages them to be complacent with the level they're currently at, or, worse, inflating their egos to the point that they begin to suffer from the illusory superiority I mentioned earlier, which is even more destructive than mere complacency.

I think Plato's Allegory of the Cave fits nicely in this debate. Maybe we're heading for a huge Platonic cave with wi-fi access. And Tool are right, we are vicarious
  01 January 2013
Originally Posted by THX1311: Interesting topic.
I believe that this problem is just a symptom of the Disease of "forced equality for all"
that appears to have been successfully imposed by Western Liberal social Engineers and the numerous, Entitlement minded, marginal performers who benefit from any lack of real objective performance standards .
(School teachers, College "professors", career politicians).


Agree 100%. You went where I didn't.
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