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2004 Usc Honors College Essay Choice 1: Values Gained By Continuing To Differentiate "Low" Art From "High" Art

622 words - 3 pages

Before evaluating the effect pop culture has on society, it is first necessary to examine whether there is an actual effect at all. Many people argue that 20th century technology such as television "dumbs down" society and encourages uniformity, but this may be a misrepresentation. Leveling implies the population becomes the same or close to it, which has never been true in American society. There have always been distinct differences between generations, and these generations have traditionally had very different views on "low" and "high" art. Music from artists such as Elvis Presley and the Beatles, now lauded by many, was at one time considered the lowest form of art by all but a few.Those who believe in low and high art tend to place too much emphasis on the importance of the classics, and too often reject contemporary artists. However, these ...view middle of the document...

Even Antonio Vivaldi has been said not to have composed over 600 pieces, but to have composed the same piece over 600 times. What was considered pop culture in the past is the present's "high" art.However, there is still a case for differentiating between low and high art. Television and movies are typically viewed as "low" art, while "high" art tends to include painting music, and poetry. But often, these clear-cut lines can be blurred, as a particularly skilled artist combines the two forms for one audience. This was seen in Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story, a play about rival New York City gangs based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The product was a sophisticated piece which gained popularity.People have filters for what they remember about the past, which allow them to recall what they remember fondly, and forget what they'd like to forget. These differentiations help preserve the best art for future generations. But pop culture mediums such as television are becoming far more popular among society than the fine arts, which has led to a decrease in the amount of painters, composers, etc. The fine arts simply don't pay very well unless you are very good, so less people attempt to create them. This is why some governments, including America and Great Britain, have begun to use tax money to fund "high artists." Given incentives, these artists keep fine arts alive and popular, right along side pop culture. This makes it necessary to differentiate between low and high art. If the two were lumped together as simply "art," then high art would eventually lose popularity, lose its creators, and die out.Low art will always continue to generate itself due to the tastes of society, marketing, and media. Fine art needs to be continued to be created to ensure that the full spectrum of the arts is preserved. The distinction between high and low arts is necessary to prevent all forms of art from swinging to one end of the spectrum, and to allow other forms to be able to change their distinction.

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