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Art is a Barometer of a Society

My wife Sana and I were at a shopping mall in Hanoi, Vietnam the other day…

Before I go any further, you need to understand that shopping malls in Vietnam are not at all like shopping malls in the United States, or other underdeveloped countries.

The place was a complete madhouse. I mean, kids everywhere. And they are definitely working on those vocal cords, if you know what I mean.

At any rate, what I found interesting about our visit to the mall yesterday is that they had all these kids songs blaring in the main P.A. system in the mall. We’re talking “The Wheels on the Bus”, ” The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” and the like. They must have had 6 of these kiddy songs that they played on repeat and forgot to change it to the adult music. (And truth be told, to say the adult music is marginally more neuronally stimulating than “The Wheels on the Bus” would be a charitable assessment.)

Well, aside from boring a hole into my subconscious a mile wide, the whole experience got me to thinking…

I suppose the rationale behind playing a bunch of kids music on the main P.A. system is to cater to the audience. There was an unbelievable amount of kids there. But there were definitely more adults than kids. Why on earth would they not play something they might like?

Not to mention the poor store and kiosk workers who have to stand there and listen to that stuff all day.

I remarked to Sana that kids should be given a standard they know they need to attain. They know they’re kids, and it’s okay that they play and have fun and listen to their kiddy music. But it seems to me that by catering to them in excess like the mall planners did (and d0), a society is being raised where there is no differentiation between childhood and adulthood.

You’re probably thinking, “James, you’re singing to the choir. We get it. Dumbing down of society, yada yada, blah blah, f*ck Trump and all that…” but hear me out.

What if the mall was playing Vivaldi, or Mozart, or perhaps a modern composer that is appropriate for the setting but actually stimulates the neurons in the brain?

I think the whole setting would be more pleasant. The adults would be in better moods (I know I would) and the kids would naturally respond to it. Sure they have the kiddy music in the kiddy areas. That makes sense. But the atmosphere as a whole in the mall would let the adults feel like adults, and send a message to the kids that they are indeed kids, and life is going to be different when you’re a mommy or daddy.

People are quick to discount art as window dressing, a frivolous accessory that isn’t really necessary for society to flourish. The people who make the art are dread-locked, unbathed freaks.

We forget that a society either rises or falls to the level of its art. The great artists of our time are uncompromising in their principles, and a few of them with some business savvy wound up becoming very wealthy.

Quit catering to the stereotype of the starving artist, sitting on the street corner, hoping someone with a “real job” will throw a few crumbs their way after leaving the cafe.

You set the tone for the rest of society. Quit f*cking it up.

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