art and entertainment

I’ve been trying to write about this moment for a week now–but it’s just thought in process and doesn’t really land anywhere.

I have been thinking a lot about the professions of art vs. entertainment–between the Oscars, and attending a wedding chock-full of comedy writers, and watching hours and hours (and hours) of reality TV on the flights to New York and back (Iron Chef America: Challenge King Crab, Chopped, Confessions of a Teen Idol, the Amazing Race, Made, and Celebrity Sober House). Also seeing Candice Breitz‘ incredible video piece Him and Her at the Yvon Lambert Gallery, a seven-channel installation in which 30 years worth of Meryl Streeps talk to each other about love, marriage, gender, art-making–a brilliant survey of the subconscious of cinema when it comes to presenting women. (I can’t link directly to the piece–go to the website, click “video”, then “Him and Her,” then “Her.”)

I am in no way “above” entertainment. I enjoy my celebrity gossip, and (when it’s good), I am passionate for big fluffy musicals and trashy romance novels and stand-up comedy and America’s Best Dance Crew and So You Think You Can Dance. I blobbed out shamelessly on JetBlue. In terms of the figures who influenced me, whom I think of as my ancestors in my pursuits, it comes down to old vaudeville, burlesque, comedy, people who created in big volume and wanted to entertain. And I know that one funny 2-minute sketch on the Daily Show reaches a bigger audience than probably all the stuff I’ve ever done put together.

So why? Why did I go one way and not the other?

It’s funny to think about all of us who did high school theater, and are now involved in different types of creative work which might seem, to outsiders, like it floats in the same pond. When it only becomes more different, the more deeply we pursue whichever direction we struck out on.

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