The secret of why the art world doesn’t work

Without that curiosity, he emphasises, opera risks not only stagnation but leaving the next generation with a tedious list of repeats.
“We know how the Hollywood model works: you’re successful with one thing and you make the sequel,” he shrugs.
“But how often is the sequel better than the first movie? Very, very rarely because you’re just trying to capitalise on success.
“So it’s that originality that we’re looking for.”

The other way to put that is “Hmm, that works. Better not do that again then, eh?”

13 thoughts on “The secret of why the art world doesn’t work”

  1. On the other hand, Hollywood is overdong the sequels thing at the moment. Some stories can continue, many have no reason to. Like the continued futile quest to make another Terminator movie that doesn’t suck.

  2. “”Audiences are critically important to us as an art form, but taking audiences seriously also means putting the new in front of them and challenging them.

    “It means expecting them to come as grown-ups with curiosity and openness.””

    But we just aren’t raising ‘grown ups’ any more, are we?

  3. So Much For Subtlety

    Ian B – “On the other hand, Hollywood is overdong the sequels thing at the moment. Some stories can continue, many have no reason to. Like the continued futile quest to make another Terminator movie that doesn’t suck.”

    The sequels would not matter so much if so much of Hollywood was not devoted to the idea that White heterosexual males suck and should die. If you make movies based on contempt for your core audience, then you can expect to suffer financially.

    Hollywood has grudgingly made some films supporting every War America has fought since WW1. The War on Terror is the exception. Until American Sniper they could not bring themselves to say that perhaps America was the good guy or not. They really don’t like films where the princess has to be saved any more.

    OK. Fine. But if you hate me, I am not going to buy your product. The fact that they are so fixated on sequels but they cannot make them work suggests they have not yet grasped this basic fact. Top Gun remains one of the most popular films ever made. Still haven’t brought themselves to make a sequel. If they did, they would f**k it up like all the rest.

    They need to take a lesson from Tyler Perry. His films are awful. If I made them they would be called a Hate Crime. But he is hugely profitable because he knows his audience and he gives them what they want. Perry has made nine films featuring Madea. It is not that sequels are bad. It is that hating your audience is stupid.

  4. Perry has made nine films featuring Madea. It is not that sequels are bad.

    It has been said that there is no such thing as useless knowledge.

    Having never heard of this person or their films, I am now in possession of slightly more knowledge. It comes close to being a rebuttal of the initial assertion.

  5. So Much For Subtlety

    Surreptitious Evil – “Having never heard of this person or their films, I am now in possession of slightly more knowledge. It comes close to being a rebuttal of the initial assertion.”

    No White person has. As a rebuttal though, it is complex. Perry’s films are dire. They are really spectacularly bad. But they are clearly what his audience wants to see. Perry is one of the most consistently profitable movie makers at the moment. In 2011 Forbes named him as the best paid man in entertainment. For what amounts to a modern Minstrel Show.

    So the sequels aren’t worse only in the sense that the original was so bad there is nowhere to go but up. But if that is what his entirely Black audience want – and, seriously, you will never meet a White person who has seen one of his films except by mistake – that is what he ought to make. Whatever Spike Lee has to say.

    (For the record, like Black rap music, I really think a lot of Black-made films, not just Perry’s, are vicious about Black women and they should stop)

  6. “… I really think a lot of Black-made films, not just Perry’s, are vicious about Black women and they should stop.”

    Perhaps they’re that way because they accurately reflect black mens experiences with black women?

  7. In general this is what Hollywood is doing. It’s hard to establish a brand. People don’t want to spend their hard earned on rubbish. They used to go with named actors as the brand but for various reasons that diminished. In general, I’d argue that sequels are better than they were 30 years ago because the brands are so much more valuable.

    The problem for opera is getting hold of composers. Recorded music changed the incentives for songwriters. You no longer had to write musicals/opera, you could just write songs for recording artists. And even composers that like working in musical theatre aren’t going to write for the ROH. Disney will give them more, whether it’s money, glory, whatever.

  8. I saw Kasper Holten’s take on Eugene Onegin at the ROH last Tuesday. He claims to have learned Russian so he could read Pushkin’s poem in the original language but he didn’t seem to get any deeper understanding from his efforts.

    He decided to play the drama in flashback so we had old Onegin and old Tatanya wandering around the place singing while their younger versions danced around the place acting. So in the duel scene we had old Eugene comforting poor Lensky while he poured out his heart in his famous aria just berfore young Eugene shoots him. Bizarre.

    Holten’s young prodigy, Michielotto, decided to make Rossini’s masterpiece, William Tell, into Jemmy’s dream and then proceeded to mock that dream. The boos from the audience when these directors take their bows after the first night performance should tell them something.

    The venerable ROH production of La Boheme has just been taken off after forty years of regular revivals. The current La Traviata has been going twenty two years. These productions have long runs and sell out every year, and they bring in top dollar. But they are ‘traditional’ performances and are not ‘challenging’ enough for a ‘modern’ director.

    Some of Holten’s work at Covent Garden has been good, but I shall be relieved to see him return to Denmark next year.

  9. Audiences are critically important to us as an art form, but taking audiences seriously also means putting the new in front of them and challenging them.

    Except that you’re only supposed to “challenge” Middle England values. Challenge the Guardian Class sensibilities and the howls will be deafening.

  10. So Much For Subtlety

    Kevin B – “The venerable ROH production of La Boheme has just been taken off after forty years of regular revivals. The current La Traviata has been going twenty two years. These productions have long runs and sell out every year, and they bring in top dollar. But they are ‘traditional’ performances and are not ‘challenging’ enough for a ‘modern’ director.”

    This is the other problem for “artists” I think. We know what audiences want but giving it to them is boring. It must have been a gift to be cast in the Mousetrap. But after doing it for twenty years? Most people would get bored. It is the same problem for teachers – who wants to walk children through Romeo and Juliet every year for the next three decades? So much better to teach some soft porn! Or watch a film.

    For opera directors it is worse because eventually they will need to get another job in another city. So they need to be noticed. How to get noticed? Not by putting on yet another highly competent and professional La Boheme. Must better to add an ISIS terrorist to Madame Butterfly. That will get you talked about in the press.

  11. SMFS: There is one director who has managed to put his own stamp on a lot of classical and romantic operas and get away with it and that is David McVicar.

    His productions nearly always manage to get in some gratuitous sex and violence and often take enormous liberties with the period. His Rigoletto features bare breasted women in the Duke’s court and Monterone’s daughter being raped on stage with both participents fully naked.

    But for me his style usually enhances the opera, whereas guys like Holten or Michielotto or Willy Decker seem to detract, (and distract), from it.

    Opera is first and foremost about the music and the story and the production must serve that rather than the reputation of the director. And funnily enough, a production that does that will enhance their rep.

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