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The Banality of Blackness

Himuro

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Sep 26, 2021
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On another forum not worth mentioning, infamous for its unplacid pistache for being fucking boring, where discussion is limited to a select bubble of sycophantic plebians. a lightbulb went off in my head. Reject modernity and embrace tradition. That tradition? Neogaf.

I'll paste what I wrote elsewhere with further extrapolations:

Full disclosure it has nothing to do with social media. It's about art, specifically black art.

I used to think that the reason we don't see black artists that speak on things is because we just aren't afforded the opportunity. Increasingly, however, I'm starting to think it's because many black creators put themselves in boxes and only speak on blackness.

I live in NYC and am an artist. I am being mentored by a renown black artist. He is schooling me in the biz. I have began to build a professional and creative network and a lot of them are black and their work is almost always, universally, typified by their blackness. It's so banal and ubiquitous here that it feels like a giant fucking grift, where talent isn't rewarded so much as being black is. A lot of the work in my network is really sub standard. Like one collective in the local area that has been making rounds talks almost nothing of social issues. Their main thing is blackness. Here in Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Museum is opening an exhibit to show Obama's Presidential portrait. How is this group going to commemorate it? By making portraits of people surrounded by trees to mimic the overall aesthetic of Obama's portrait. That's it. Using one persons art as a basis to make money.

This is just one spurious example. I notice people of races don't do this shit and if they do they are smart to not make it the totality of their artistic identity. They realize that there's wisdom in having an oeuvre that works for people of different backgrounds.

So much black art boils down to "Hey, I'm black." It's so fucking boring. The worst part is how black artists are cajoled into this corral of creative stagnancy. I fear that if my career goals line up, I'll still be forced by my bosses to only make pictures pertaining to blackness. What about the recent Afghan situation? What about the War on Terror? What about the ripple effects that has on views on military? Or Islam/Muslims? I'm really interested in the sociology of what makes us human and the webs that we are connected to, and too often it feels like this is an attitude only afforded by non-black artists. Take a look at a lot of black art and it often feels copied and pasted. I'm again, convinced it's a grift for many. I go to exhibit after exhibit and it's almost always the same. Meanwhile the non-black people get to tell cool, diverse stories and they're not obsessed with their identities even if they're people of color. This doesn't mean they have no pride of where they come from, but they seem just as interested in telling stories about people who aren't like them as much as they are interested in telling stories about people that are.

It's getting hard to hold back my tongue and just flat out say,"your work sucks and your blackness is the only reason you're here. Please tell us something about you besides your blackness."

You can see this is dynamic in the pop culture. Like how they replace characters that are historically white with a black version of that character rather than making a unique black character. It's as if black art is constrained to a specific plane and if you go outside of it you're going to get tomatoed.

I'm not saying speaking truth to power and articulating your blackness has no value. But creatively, is that all there is? So your answer to white people making art that features only white people is to make art that only features black people? And you live in New York City?



How could you, reliably, critique white peoples pastiche that limits this world to a select race if you're doing the same?

I'm really, really scared I'll make my career goals of working for the New York Times or AP or something, and they only give me black stories where I'm just pigeon holed.

To counter this, I've started to distance myself almost entirely with the movement and black art. I'm in the process of making my own collective and unlike other collectives ran by black people I've decided to make it non-black. The first guy I recruited, my co-partner, is a straight white man. The goal of the collective is find diverse voices where we can tell stories visually in a high level manner. I'm really trying to build a group of people from diverse backgrounds: black, brown, Muslim, Jewish, Asian, Latino, Arab, LGBTQ, Native;etc. even white as long as they have something to say and don't reduce their messages to just identity politics.

I told someone I know about joining my collective. He's a black man. He told me no because he wants to focus only black issues. It's always like this. It's as if that's all they have to say.

The worst part of black arts limited dynamics is that it teaches white people that black people are just victims. More than that, it teaches black kids that blackness is a fashion statement. In the end, we all lose.

Extrapolation: black people will never heal if we do not make our own works that hope to inspire rather than remind us we are black. White people make Star Trek. Black people make another reminder I'm black.

It's why I think Afrofuturism and a lot of blaxploitation sucks. To be granted, the need for a platform to make things about blackness and black people, as an underclass race, is important. But we will never transcend nor heal if that's all we have to communicate.

If black people can make work that resonates with people because it's related to the human condition and aspires as much as it inspires, we can likely gain more international acceptance rather than if we just made black art for black people along ever continuing rigid lines.

I used to question,"where's the black art masters?" I used to think it was only because they weren't allowed to contribute. Increasingly I'm aware many don't want to. You will never master art if you keep yourself to a box.

Rather than creating our own DBZ, black people are more interested in making black Goku art. Other races create; black people don't. Blackness as a topic limits opportunity to create worlds beyond the politics of blackness. This isn't to say stories about being black don't matter or aren't important but how are black people supposed to make in-roads creatively if our race is our topic du jour when everyone else on the planet gets to create cool new worlds?

Further extrapolation: by making art only about blackness this will pigeonhole your work so that the only work you get is about blackness. A wide diversity of subject matter and topic will result in higher success of getting better jobs.

Additional extrapolation: today's black art repeatedly gets cosigned by white editors and white producers too scared to critique modern black films. The result? White liberals want to support black people but they end up turning that into "we need to support everything black people do". The result? Mediocre black art. But mediocre black hurts black artists because you're not lifting the cream of the crop. This is bad and potentially damaging for future black artists.

Here's a photo to close this out.

 
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Nico_D

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Aug 9, 2013
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I don't think this is a problem only in "black art" but in every movement. Following any movement or creating art to cater any spesific social group in hope for being validates, makes art predictable and boring. It very easily becomes egoistic and me-centric navel-gazing and collectivr backpacking.

I know very well how hard it is to breakthrough as an artist and it can be really tempting to do all that to get recognised. But unless that style is really part of the artist, which I highly doubt (people talk about zeitgeist to make it sound more beautifful), I see it as compromising with yourself and possibly not doing what the artist would actually want to do.

I know this guy who is an excellent classical painter, portraits and landscapes. But those aren't cool, Rembrandt is dead, so he does "shapes on canvas" now, and "installations". I've seen his "rabbit on a snowstorm" too. So sad.
 

godhandiscen

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Excellent post. An example of this feeling of "boxing black artists into a black identity theme" is Amazon Prime's "Amplify Black Voices" section. When it launched all it had was movies about social issues black people deal with. They have finally started adding some sci-fi, thanks to Will Smith movies, but for a while there, it was a section you only visited if you wanted to feel awful and guilty.
 

strange headache

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Jan 14, 2018
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All this racialized thinking is only hurting artistic output, doesn't matter if it's white supremacists or black militants.

Christopher Priest became an iconic comic writer when he finally separated himself from this black and white thinking:
“I was a little horrified when the words ‘Black’ and ‘Panther’ came out of Joe’s mouth,” he would later write. “I mean, Black Panther? Who reads Black Panther? Black Panther?!” But they were adamant, and Priest acquiesced — with “one basic stipulation: Black Panther could not be ‘a black book.’ ” Even though he had become the best interpreter of race in the game, Priest saw something troubling happening to his career. “I stopped being a writer, or being thought of as a writer,” he tells me, “and started being thought of as a black writer.”

If you can only enjoy a work of art when it is coupled with the right skin color, then you're not really in it for the art itself.
Art is an universal language, it speaks about notions that everybody can relate to. As such, no human experience is tied to a specific ethnicity.

One of the world's most famous art critics, Arthur Danto put it like this:

What in the end makes the difference between a Brillo box and a work of art consisting of a Brillo box is a certain theory of art. It is theory that takes it up into the world of art, and keeps it from collapsing into the real object which it is. [Warhol’s Brillo boxes] could not have been art fifty years ago. The world has to be ready for certain things, the artworld no less than the real one. It is the role of artistic theories, these days as always, to make the artworld, and art, possible.

Even ordinary things become a piece of art if framed correctly. Turning extraordinary things into the ordinary by reducing it to utilitarian messaging, only degrades the artistic value.
 
Oct 26, 2018
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I'm no art expert.

My idea of buying any kind of art to fill a house is finding stuff at Homesense, or when I was younger and didnt have cash going to Ikea and buying a $20 print and $10 matching aluminum frame.

I'm not looking for (and never will) art that has some kind of political or racial skew to it. I just want something nice and cheap to fill empty space. If it's a cultural themed piece, thats just pure luck.

And I am 100% confident a lot of people are in the same boat as me. Spend some modest amounts of money on something that looks nice to put on a shelf or hang on a wall and call it a day.

IMO, I think artists are trying too hard being too creative or clever. There's only so many people out there willing to buy pricey works of art, or political stuff.

I dont know about you guys, but when I buy something that looks decent to put in my living room, I don't give a shit who makes it or what they look like. It could be churned out on a computer by a college grad at Ikea's R&D lab, but if it looked nice I'll grab it. Dont care about the inner meaning of it or if 1 million other people in the world have the same picture.

If you want to sell a lot of product and make good cash, you got to sell something people want at a reasonable price.
 
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UnNamed

18+ Member, acts like 12 year old console warrior
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When you talk about "black art" you mean US Black Art, right? Culture inspire art, but culture is made by many things, art is made bay many things. There is no such thing as black art, since black men's cultures are different in many parts of the world, "black" is not a trademark, you don't have to register to Black.com and follow some rules like Dogma95 to be recognized as a (black) artist.
 
Oct 26, 2018
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On another forum not worth mentioning, infamous for its unplacid pistache for being fucking boring, where discussion is limited to a select bubble of sycophantic plebians. a lightbulb went off in my head. Reject modernity and embrace tradition. That tradition? Neogaf.

I'll paste what I wrote elsewhere with further extrapolations:

Full disclosure it has nothing to do with social media. It's about art, specifically black art.

I used to think that the reason we don't see black artists that speak on things is because we just aren't afforded the opportunity. Increasingly, however, I'm starting to think it's because many black creators put themselves in boxes and only speak on blackness.

I live in NYC and am an artist. I am being mentored by a renown black artist. He is schooling me in the biz. I have began to build a professional and creative network and a lot of them are black and their work is almost always, universally, typified by their blackness. It's so banal and ubiquitous here that it feels like a giant fucking grift, where talent isn't rewarded so much as being black is. A lot of the work in my network is really sub standard. Like one collective in the local area that has been making rounds talks almost nothing of social issues. Their main thing is blackness. Here in Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Museum is opening an exhibit to show Obama's Presidential portrait. How is this group going to commemorate it? By making portraits of people surrounded by trees to mimic the overall aesthetic of Obama's portrait. That's it. Using one persons art as a basis to make money.

This is just one spurious example. I notice people of races don't do this shit and if they do they are smart to not make it the totality of their artistic identity. They realize that there's wisdom in having an oeuvre that works for people of different backgrounds.

So much black art boils down to "Hey, I'm black." It's so fucking boring. The worst part is how black artists are cajoled into this corral of creative stagnancy. I fear that if my career goals line up, I'll still be forced by my bosses to only make pictures pertaining to blackness. What about the recent Afghan situation? What about the War on Terror? What about the ripple effects that has on views on military? Or Islam/Muslims? I'm really interested in the sociology of what makes us human and the webs that we are connected to, and too often it feels like this is an attitude only afforded by non-black artists. Take a look at a lot of black art and it often feels copied and pasted. I'm again, convinced it's a grift for many. I go to exhibit after exhibit and it's almost always the same. Meanwhile the non-black people get to tell cool, diverse stories and they're not obsessed with their identities even if they're people of color. This doesn't mean they have no pride of where they come from, but they seem just as interested in telling stories about people who aren't like them as much as they are interested in telling stories about people that are.

It's getting hard to hold back my tongue and just flat out say,"your work sucks and your blackness is the only reason you're here. Please tell us something about you besides your blackness."

You can see this is dynamic in the pop culture. Like how they replace characters that are historically white with a black version of that character rather than making a unique black character. It's as if black art is constrained to a specific plane and if you go outside of it you're going to get tomatoed.

I'm not saying speaking truth to power and articulating your blackness has no value. But creatively, is that all there is? So your answer to white people making art that features only white people is to make art that only features black people? And you live in New York City?



How could you, reliably, critique white peoples pastiche that limits this world to a select race if you're doing the same?

I'm really, really scared I'll make my career goals of working for the New York Times or AP or something, and they only give me black stories where I'm just pigeon holed.

To counter this, I've started to distance myself almost entirely with the movement and black art. I'm in the process of making my own collective and unlike other collectives ran by black people I've decided to make it non-black. The first guy I recruited, my co-partner, is a straight white man. The goal of the collective is find diverse voices where we can tell stories visually in a high level manner. I'm really trying to build a group of people from diverse backgrounds: black, brown, Muslim, Jewish, Asian, Latino, Arab, LGBTQ, Native;etc. even white as long as they have something to say and don't reduce their messages to just identity politics.

I told someone I know about joining my collective. He's a black man. He told me no because he wants to focus only black issues. It's always like this. It's as if that's all they have to say.

The worst part of black arts limited dynamics is that it teaches white people that black people are just victims. More than that, it teaches black kids that blackness is a fashion statement. In the end, we all lose.

Extrapolation: black people will never heal if we do not make our own works that hope to inspire rather than remind us we are black. White people make Star Trek. Black people make another reminder I'm black.

It's why I think Afrofuturism and a lot of blaxploitation sucks. To be granted, the need for a platform to make things about blackness and black people, as an underclass race, is important. But we will never transcend nor heal if that's all we have to communicate.

If black people can make work that resonates with people because it's related to the human condition and aspires as much as it inspires, we can likely gain more international acceptance rather than if we just made black art for black people along ever continuing rigid lines.

I used to question,"where's the black art masters?" I used to think it was only because they weren't allowed to contribute. Increasingly I'm aware many don't want to. You will never master art if you keep yourself to a box.

Rather than creating our own DBZ, black people are more interested in making black Goku art. Other races create; black people don't. Blackness as a topic limits opportunity to create worlds beyond the politics of blackness. This isn't to say stories about being black don't matter or aren't important but how are black people supposed to make in-roads creatively if our race is our topic du jour when everyone else on the planet gets to create cool new worlds?

Further extrapolation: by making art only about blackness this will pigeonhole your work so that the only work you get is about blackness. A wide diversity of subject matter and topic will result in higher success of getting better jobs.

Additional extrapolation: today's black art repeatedly gets cosigned by white editors and white producers too scared to critique modern black films. The result? White liberals want to support black people but they end up turning that into "we need to support everything black people do". The result? Mediocre black art. But mediocre black hurts black artists because you're lifting the cream of the crop. This is bad and potentially damaging for future black artists.

Here's a photo to close this out.

To me, I dont think struggling artists has anything to do with issues you bring up. It can be an Argentinian or Mongolian making art. I think art as a career seems to be tough for all (I'm talking fine arts and not being a graphics designer or packaging maker for a new flavour of potato chips). It sure doesn't seem predictable and process orientated like getting a job in an office.

However, what you bring up later on in your post makes total sense.

I live in Toronto. It's literally 50/50 whites and minorities. And the heavy skew in minorities is Indian and Asian. Blacks and Latinos are smaller segments of the population here while in a big US metro city like NY or LA or Chicago it's probably the reverse minority trend.

What you get here are heavy Indian/Asian influence for businesses - in particular restaurants and specialty grocery stores depending which part of the city you live. That's basically the extent of it. You get some Middle Eastern restaurants and giant mosques here and there too. You don't really see politics, art, protests, or any kind of forced culture on everyone else regarding history, inner meaning, or wanting everyone to notice they came from half way around the world. It's more about they'll keep that part of life at home, but what the public sees is focus on school and making some money so they can buy a house in the burbs.

And guess what? I don't really care about anyone's personal struggles, art or culture in my face anyway. Be a good person and that's good enough for me. I can tell you're an Indian guy already. I don't need you to promote that in my face. I don't care about your struggles either to be honest. Just like I dont think anyone wants to hear any issues me or my fam have either. And I'm definitely not buying art based on self identity or politics.
 
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Scotty W

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The are quite a few black thinkers or artists who I think are incredible thinkers or artists who happen to be black.

Thomas Sowell, Jimi Hendrix, Pushkin, BB King.

When I read Dostoyevsky, the Russian nationalism is boring. What I love is the humanity that transcends that narrow interest.

What it sounds like is that you don’t want to be ‘politically black.’ Kimberle Crenshaw built her career on the idea that black experience is somehow ‘wholly other’ and its lived experience is NOT an interpretation. It sounds like, in your experience, you don’t share that interpretation.
 

O-N-E

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The are quite a few black thinkers or artists who I think are incredible thinkers or artists who happen to be black.

Thomas Sowell, Jimi Hendrix, Pushkin, BB King.

When I read Dostoyevsky, the Russian nationalism is boring. What I love is the humanity that transcends that narrow interest.

What it sounds like is that you don’t want to be ‘politically black.’ Kimberle Crenshaw built her career on the idea that black experience is somehow ‘wholly other’ and its lived experience is NOT an interpretation. It sounds like, in your experience, you don’t share that interpretation.

Calling Pushkin "Black" is a mighty stretch.
 

VN1X

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Candyman (2021) is a nice example of everything you've described OP.

It's one of the rare occasions where I had to turn off a film because of these issues. Just completely on the nose basically and the subject matter within presented as an absolute reality without an ounce of self-awareness or reflection. It was an awful film.
 
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Mohonky

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OP is an interesting query to ponder.

It's easy to understand why black struggles (particularly American) are so prevalent in all aspects of culture but I think OP highlights an issue with growing artists outside of that window.
 
Mar 3, 2020
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Candyman (2021) is a nice example of everything you've described OP.

It's one of the rare occasions where I had to turn off a film because of these issues. Just completely on the nose basically and the subject matter within presented as an absolute reality without an ounce of self-awareness or reflection. It was an awful film.

Thank fuck I'm not the only one, watched it yesterday. Apart from Todd showing up at the end, another Peel produced shitfest. All the white characters only existed to be annoying and slayed.
 
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Himuro

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Thank fuck I'm not the only one, watched it yesterday. Apart from Todd showing up at the end, another Peel produced shitfest. All the white characters only existed to be annoying and slayed.
This is why I disagree with Peele. He says he will never cast a white main character but that seems the same exact mindset of how white creators treated black (and other minority characters): by treating whiteness as default.
 

Vaelka

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Excellent post. An example of this feeling of "boxing black artists into a black identity theme" is Amazon Prime's "Amplify Black Voices" section. When it launched all it had was movies about social issues black people deal with. They have finally started adding some sci-fi, thanks to Will Smith movies, but for a while there, it was a section you only visited if you wanted to feel awful and guilty.

Black Americans specifically, black people in other countries may deal with somewhat similar issues but there are also unique issues and issues they don't have to deal with.

This kinda colors how people view it too, I don't think that having black people in things for example is inherently '' pandering '' that's just stupid... But the way in which it's treated by a lot of these platforms like Netflix IS pandering and very transparent.
And it kinda sets the expectation.

There's a weird case I noticed quite recently that I actually had a very negative reaction to at first but now I have more mixed thoughts on it.
And it's casting Caroline Henderson as Jarl Haakon in the new Netflix Vikings show.
I still have issues with them changing the gender, Haakon was a historical figure of great importance to Norway it feels very disrespectful to change him so drastically and lets be real here we all know why Netflix did it...
When I found out that she's Swedish tho I have more mixed thoughts on it, because I know that a lot of older non-white Swedes who were actually born here actually have a very strong connection to the country and culture.
They're some of the most '' nationalistic '' and passionate about our country that I've come across.

She's obviously Swedish ( and lived in Denmark too ) and not Norweigan, but it's still part of our overall Nordic history and I think Scandinavians can play each other interchangably.
And I am not really fine with the gender change still, but I am actually kinda okay with her being black because ultimately she was born here and I know a lot of older non-white people who were born and raised here and they don't have any '' African identity '' at all they solely identify with being Swedish and nothing else.
And they don't have that historical context that black people in America do of slavery and being brought over etc, usually they were just adopted or their family fled from war.
It's not historically accurate but I am actually way more fine with it when there's that context there and they get to feel more a part of the history of the region they ultimately belong and identify with.

I have no clue who plays Angrboda in God of War tho for example but I kinda doubt there is any connection like this at all, ultimately I think in that case it's just a bunch of Americans injecting identity politics into it and nothing else.
Maybe it started that way with Haakon in Vikings, I mean i think it's pretty safe to say that it did.
But I don't have as much of an issue with the end result because at least the woman who is going to play the role has the correct cultural identity to make up for it.
And if she feels connected to the history too because she was born and raised in a Scandinavian country then I think it's all cool, that's way more important to me than her skin color honestly.

I can still disagree with the most likely reasoning as to why Netflix cast her but I can also kinda think it's okay from her perspective and in her very specific case.
If she was some random black American with absolutely zero connection to Scandinavia then I'd feel totally different about it.

Edit: Another good example is the idiocy behind casting Achilles as black instead of having a more accurate representation by actually including Memnon who was black...
Just why.......... We all know why.
And if I was black I'd be pretty fucking pissed about it, because actual black historical people keep getting erased.
 
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dr_octagon

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This is why I disagree with Peele. He says he will never cast a white main character but that seems the same exact mindset of how white creators treated black (and other minority characters): by treating whiteness as default.

I get writing about what you know and there may instances where a director can't do a story or character justice.

If Peele refuses to use a white main character due to his skin colour alone then it's the same type of racism being criticised in media.
 

NahaNago

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Yeah, the stories and art that is being influenced by todays "blackness" tends to create more divides I feel. My opinion is that music, art, and movies should be able to open up a portal to allow us to appreciate other cultures rather than be used to be/show what separates us from everyone else. Give us unique stories of your lives that everyone can relate to and how you overcome your adversities.
 
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Evil Calvin

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Sorry....if the art is good it will thrive. Do what you do well. People will notice. I am white and many others around me are colored and are more successful than me. That's ok. I am tired of many complaining that they are held back because they are colored. It's getting old. Work hard and do your best.
 

Himuro

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Sorry....if the art is good it will thrive. Do what you do well. People will notice. I am white and many others around me are colored and are more successful than me. That's ok. I am tired of many complaining that they are held back because they are colored. It's getting old. Work hard and do your best.
What the hell are you talking about?
 
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*Nightwing

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Nope
Art in and of itself is one thing, the Art Industry is a monolith with all of its foundations laid by pretentiousness, imposture, and sanctimonious insincerity regardless of the source. Latino art is the same, the grand majority of it always about the political message not about anything real the artist is trying to express defeating the purpose of art and becoming propaganda. This is an aspect of the art industry as a whole not specific to any ethnic subset of art style. I don’t like the source but that doesn’t make it any less factual:


For your career the choice is speak your mind and make no money until to are skilled enough your lack of compliance is overlooked, or bite your tongue and play the game as your mentor is teaching you. There is a cost to everything, ethical morality included.
 

Himuro

Member
Sep 26, 2021
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Art in and of itself is one thing, the Art Industry is a monolith with all of its foundations laid by pretentiousness, imposture, and sanctimonious insincerity regardless of the source. Latino art is the same, the grand majority of it always about the political message not about anything real the artist is trying to express defeating the purpose of art and becoming propaganda. This is an aspect of the art industry as a whole not specific to any ethnic subset of art style. I don’t like the source but that doesn’t make it any less factual:


For your career the choice is speak your mind and make no money until to are skilled enough your lack of compliance is overlooked, or bite your tongue and play the game as your mentor is teaching you. There is a cost to everything, ethical morality included.
Basically:

 
Mar 3, 2020
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This is why I disagree with Peele. He says he will never cast a white main character but that seems the same exact mindset of how white creators treated black (and other minority characters): by treating whiteness as default.

And cardinal sin. It just wasn't scary. I'm watching the original now, it's so, so much better.
 
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TheInfamousKira

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Jul 13, 2020
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I'm no artist, and I'm a white man, but in my observations, it comes down to people defining themselves by their heritage, or sexual orientation, or gender. Not incorporating those inherent traits into themselves, but making those traits the totality of themselves. I recognize that minorities should be prideful, they should celebrate their cultures, but too often do you see these same people fill their "about me," blurbs on social media profiles with their pronouns, race, and career. Those three components are part of you, but it's reductive to view those as your only worthwhile traits. GAF, while certainly not high art, has been great about this. I'll often see someone post a hundred times, and only then realize that they're LBGTQ+ or a race different to my own. People here exhibit their personality traits before anything else, they put their best foot forward, and in turn it underlines the fact that, really, we're all pretty similar as a species.

Tribalism is cancer, and we're all waving our team's banners under the smokescreen of pride, importance, awareness, where too often the true motive is segregation, whether consciously or not. I'm not saying we should all cover our faces, but in social interactions, and definitely in art, there's a benefit to be had from anonymity, and letting people come to their own conclusions based on what's in front of them.
 
Oct 26, 2018
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Yeah, the stories and art that is being influenced by todays "blackness" tends to create more divides I feel. My opinion is that music, art, and movies should be able to open up a portal to allow us to appreciate other cultures rather than be used to be/show what separates us from everyone else. Give us unique stories of your lives that everyone can relate to and how you overcome your adversities.
IMO,

If someone wants to make art representing struggles, adversity, oppression, or simply a very cultural angle to it etc.... go ahead. It's their art.

But chances are you're going to find a small audience especially in 2021. This isn't slavery days, and nobody in a first world country makes Nike shoes for 50 cents per hour for 12 hours each day. I don't think the typical person wants to buy Holocaust art by Jewish people either.

If artists want more success and acceptance, they should make art that enlightens and brings a smile to people's face. Or simply is something that makes a living room nice looking. That's why a boring print showing flowers or a fruit bowl will be accepted over any political piece of art. Who wants a piece of art reminding people of war and oppression? Who knows. I guess some love it.

And when I say bring positive vibes, that means in isolation. A community making art that visually has (or inner meaning) of another group (let's say White people) hinting at being harbinger of death and oppression is (as you say) creates divide. Because the overall art or media being promoted is a showcase "us vs. you".

It doesn't even have to be art doing this. When it comes to media and social topics, there's always this vibe of "Black people vs. the world". Instead, how about propping each other up with good vibes and success stories? Promote some successful Black businesses, doctors, hell the inventor of Super Soakers a genius Black engineer who was an uber inventor with 250 patents and worked at NASA. Sounds like a smart successful guy. Yet, some reason nobody brings him up. The guy is loaded too, so it even fits the qualifications which heavily promoted Black success often becomes (celebrities being rich).

 
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I'm no artist, and I'm a white man, but in my observations, it comes down to people defining themselves by their heritage, or sexual orientation, or gender. Not incorporating those inherent traits into themselves, but making those traits the totality of themselves. I recognize that minorities should be prideful, they should celebrate their cultures, but too often do you see these same people fill their "about me," blurbs on social media profiles with their pronouns, race, and career. Those three components are part of you, but it's reductive to view those as your only worthwhile traits. GAF, while certainly not high art, has been great about this. I'll often see someone post a hundred times, and only then realize that they're LBGTQ+ or a race different to my own. People here exhibit their personality traits before anything else, they put their best foot forward, and in turn it underlines the fact that, really, we're all pretty similar as a species.

Tribalism is cancer, and we're all waving our team's banners under the smokescreen of pride, importance, awareness, where too often the true motive is segregation, whether consciously or not. I'm not saying we should all cover our faces, but in social interactions, and definitely in art, there's a benefit to be had from anonymity, and letting people come to their own conclusions based on what's in front of them.

Best example of this thinking is Michael Caine. In the UK he's held up as an example of the Working Class hero made good. He was asked in an interview if he was proud of coming from that background. He replied no, to a shocked interviewer and he explained he was working class because that's due to where he was born/parents and was more proud of his own achievements that he had singular earned such as his Oscars. We all need to think more like Caine.
 
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DeafTourette

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I have a lot of thoughts about art in black spaces, or black art in the overall zeitgeist.

I'll just start with this: Black Sands Entertainment. Black owned company selling comic books that tell extraordinary stories starring black people. Taking a similar but different approach to Milestone when they started.


I don't know much about the stories but isn't this part of what folks say? "If you want black heroes, make your own and stop race swapping white ones!"

Anyway, I have to get ready for work.
 

AngelaLifman

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All this racialized thinking is only hurting artistic output, doesn't matter if it's white supremacists or black militants.

Christopher Priest became an iconic comic writer when he finally separated himself from this black and white thinking:


If you can only enjoy a work of art when it is coupled with the right skin color, then you're not really in it for the art itself.
Art is an universal language, it speaks about notions that everybody can relate to. As such, no human experience is tied to a specific ethnicity.

One of the world's most famous art critics, Arthur Danto put it like this:



Even ordinary things become a piece of art if framed correctly. Turning extraordinary things into the ordinary by reducing it to utilitarian messaging, only degrades the artistic value.
I totally agree with you! Art and creativity have no color and boundaries, it makes no sense to distinguish yourself from others simply by being whiter or blacker than someone.
 
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I totally agree with you! Art and creativity have no color and boundaries, it makes no sense to distinguish yourself from others simply by being whiter or blacker than someone.
Agreed.

But many people out there think one's own identity/culture is the basis of art. More of a "whats mine is mine".

So if anyone out there wants to paint a picture of the coliseum or leaning tower of pisa, it should only be Italians.
 
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AngelaLifman

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All this racialized thinking is only hurting artistic output, doesn't matter if it's white supremacists or black militants.

Christopher Priest became an iconic comic writer when he finally separated himself from this black and white thinking:


If you can only enjoy a work of art when it is coupled with the right skin color, then you're not really in it for the art itself.
Art is an universal language, it speaks about notions that everybody can relate to. As such, no human experience is tied to a specific ethnicity.

One of the world's most famous art critics, Arthur Danto put it like this:

I read a unique book on racism - check here if you are interested in this story before reading it. There are many essays on A Raisin In The Sun. She reveals a lot of truthful things about blacks and whites. Perhaps this will change someone's worldview.

Even ordinary things become a piece of art if framed correctly. Turning extraordinary things into the ordinary by reducing it to utilitarian messaging, only degrades the artistic value.
I was very fond of Christopher Priest comics, and as a child I did not even think about his skin color. I go to art school and I am surrounded by many colorful people. But few of them behave in a special way. Perhaps all of these cases are unique
 
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QuantumZebra

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While not being black and thus not being able to empathize with your experiences, I agree fully.

"Keeping it black" limits your art... if you purposely shut off other groups then:

A) How can you expect to become mainstream, popular, well-known, etc...? Unless that means nothing... but then if your art isn't seen widespread... is it affecting change or perceptions?

B) Aren't you perpetuating the issue of racial segregation?

*you not meaning the OP, just in general
 
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Racial pride has always been a thing, it's just that streaming services are now trying to capitalize on it.

Can any good come from this? Maybe. I generally avoid sections like "black art" and "gay art" because I know they're usually full of bottom of the barrel shit that Amazon wants to push. But I'll watch the hell out of a gem like Moonlight.
 
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Art in general is pretty samey. I saw a guitar over the weekend that someone splatter painted and is trying to sell it for $900. It's not even a good guitar, and it's ruined.
 

I_D

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Disclaimer: White guy here. I also have never really figured out what my "culture" is, so I have a difficult time relating to such things.

I do know what you mean, though, OP. And it's not even just art in the traditional sense. It happens in other areas, too.

Can anybody name any famous black people who fit one of the following criteria?
- Authors (I'm thinking specifically book writers) who did not right about black struggles
- Comedians who don't have a "black people do X, white people do Y" routine
- Singers who don't talk about black struggles (this one is probably a bit easier, so I'll stress the "famous" requirement)

I understand the desire to want to make a change in the world, and the desire to discuss problems you see. I also understand that those same problems shape a large part of society, and society shapes the artist, and it's impossible to separate such a large inspiration from creative work.
But, yeah, it doesn't have to be the entirety of somebody's inspiration. And I can't really think of a bigger limit to creativity than to focus solely on one aspect of yourself.




Also, I know it's off-topic, but I can't help but also note that I'm currently being forced to read a bunch of YA novels. Talk about being put into a box...
Every single damn one of those books is all about a gay kid with a black best friend who ends up being depressed because a white jock is making fun of him/her. Add cutting into the plot if it's a girl. There's a friend's suicide in there somewhere, as well. Then the gay kid learns some sort of skill and gains confidence, or just accepts that some people are assholes and gains confidence. Then the book ends with an overall feeling of dreariness, but with a slight twinkle of hope.

These books are like the perfect symbols of limited thinking and in-the-box identities.
 
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Claus Grimhildyr

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I just find it hard to connect to or discuss with folks who make immutable characteristics their defining trait/personality. I have yet to see someone who does this that isn't a complete buffoon or miserable personality-lacking jackass.
 
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