Monday 10 October 2011

Is Art Only Good For Selling These Days?

Yesterday there were thirty minutes of commercials before 'Midnight In Paris'. There weren't even any movie trailers -- just people selling me products. I felt like a complete idiot, paying money to sit and be brainwashed for thirty minutes about cars, clothes and drinks.

Here's the thing though; I think this is a really wonderful advert:

It's beautiful, it captures the magic of youth, and it-------- sells jeans. It would be so beautiful as a stand alone piece -- an ode to youth and adventure. Beautiful.

But no. It's about Levi jeans.

I don't blame Levi's, they're a company and they need to sell clothes. I don't entirely blame the people who made the video, because they need to make a living. If they'd made this for the fun of it they'd have only made $50 with Youtube ads.

This is the society we live in. Everything's for sale. Is it possible to experience anything beautiful without it being branded?

Check out the video below:

When that came on in the cinema, my friend Stephanie was loving it -- right up until the end, when it turned out to be an advertisement for Twinings Tea. She was so into it. The video and animation was beautifully done. And just listen to that voice. The singer is Charlene Soraia, singing an extremely beautiful cover of The Calling's 'Wherever You Will Go'. 

Charlene is an artist. She's not doing the reality TV shows. She's not getting breast enlargement. She's singing and writing and performing. Twinings have got her some exposure, we can be thankful for that, but she's determined to make it on her own terms, with her own style of music. 

That's the delicate balancing act for artists these days. Getting paid and making art are usually two entirely different things. The people behind the Levi's ad probably have a passion project they want to make which has nothing to do with a corporation. Or maybe not. So many of the best creative minds are happy becoming millionaires by making videos for corporations who sell us shit we don't need. 

Springsteen refused to put out any new material in the late 70's until he could wrestle back creative control from the record company. Woody Allen refuses bigger budgets so that he can keep full creative control. Their integrity, their ability, their vision -- it speaks volumes. Who is going to carry this on when they're gone? We're calling out for a future Chaplin, for the next Bob Dylan -- let's hope they still exist. 

Well you can't turn him into a company man
you cant turn him into a whore
and the boys upstairs just don't understand anymore
well the top brass dont like him talking so much
and he won't play what they say to play
and he don't wanna change what don't need to change

And there goes the last DJ
who plays what he wants to play
and says what he wants to say
hey hey hey
and there goes your freedom of choice
there goes the last human voice
and there goes the last DJ

-Tom Petty

Care to share?


  1. That Twinings commercial is really beautiful, and I've never heard of the singer, but I will look her up now. We don't get Twinings commercials here in the U.S., so I've never seen it before.

    The funniest thing about the Levi's commercial is that when it starts to play, an ad for something else altogether pops up at the bottom of the video. I have no objections to commercials, especially since they've been getting so clever lately, but I think that a commercial over a commercial is a bit much.