Art vs Entertainment

Art & Entertainment

Image: White Horse Inn podcast logoA month or two ago my coworker Dan Newsom turned me on to the White Horse Inn podcast episode called “God in the Gallery.” It’s an interview with Dan Siedell, author of the book of the same name.

(After listening to the podcast, I keep searching for an audio version of his book, but it doesn’t look like there is one. If you know of one, let me know! I love listening to audiobooks and/or podcasts while painting or designing.)

Image: two boxers' gloved hands meeting behind headline Art vs Entertainment

One of the things that jumped out at me in the program was the discussion comparing high art and entertainment.

What Dan Siedell said boils down to this:

(High) Art (as opposed to illustration, propaganda, etc.) has a long memory, and is made with the intention of touching someone now as well as many years from now.

Entertainment has no memory, and is made to touch someone right now, not necessarily with the intention of helping them become a better person.

I’m not going to condemn either one. There is a place for both art and entertainment. But they aren’t the same thing at all.

I compare it to food. You have healthy, solid, nourishing food and you have junk food. Problems arise when you have too much of either. And a little bit of junk food is okay, and possibly even beneficial. Likewise, I think mindless entertainment is fine in small doses.

Image: Split picture of Peter Griffin and Marcel Proust

But if you eat potato chips and watch Family Guy all the time, you won’t be doing yourself any favors. You’ll have the same physique and intellect as Peter Griffin.

On the other hand, if you only eat salad and read Proust, your body probably isn’t getting the protein, fat, and sugar it needs, and you’ll become a pretentious bore.(Disclaimer: I’ve never read Proust. His In Search of Lost Time┬ámultivolume series sounds interesting, but I’ve got so much on my reading list I don’t think I’ll read him anytime soon. Apologies if he’s your favorite.)