I wonder if everything is really as bad in modern creative works as we seem to think they are. Every era believes that the golden age is long past, and the only way to usher in a new one is to recapture the glories of old. That’s a big part of what Pulprev is, and I believe Pulprev has a legitimate point.
The funny thing is, those works we’re not widely regarded by the critics in their day. I know one shouldn’t place too much stock in the professional critic–after all, those who can do, and those who can’t make fun of it–but let’s go back farther than the 1920s and 30s. What did Jane Austen‘s contemporaries say about her, for example? Was she widely loved? Was Jonathan Swift? Herman Melville?
We’re Alexander Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers considered a masterpieces in their day? Or were they criticized as simple adventure stories for kids?
Every age must have its own existential issues when it comes to creativity. Ours feels more acute because we’re living in it! But even if we weren’t, this strange combination of a society that has essentially stagnated culturally since the late-1990s combined with an ever-tightening nostalgia spiral where we’re seeing remakes of things that were made just a few years ago get their own remakes.
It’s so bizarre to see Disney make live-action remakes of all it’s classic animated films, including some that aren’t really that old. Do we really need to see Disney’s entire 90s oeuvre remade in live-action form? I wonder who they’re going to get to play Quasimodo . . .
Modern music is similar, especially rock music. I checked out this great Rick Beato video where he discusses the quantizing of everything and how ProTools, which coincidentally came out in the late 1990s, resulted in everything sounding the same rhythmically. Every track is layered one by one, played to a perfect click track, and then quantized to make damn sure that everything is right on the beat, no variations in tempo here!
He goes so far as to quantize John Bonham Led Zeppelin to show how you can take a drummer with great grove and feel and make him sound like a boring chump.
You can add the over compression and the so-called “loudness wars” to this, and you end up with rock music that just doesn’t move, has no feel, the drum sound awful, and everything is very beige–and this is irrespective of all the problems with songwriting!
Beato shows how you can just cut and paste every part, add beads, change the rhythm, and do it all from my computer. No musicians necessary! I guess AI really is coming for our jobs.
That doesn’t answer my original question: did the ages of yore that we view as the golden age view themselves as a golden age
With the exception of the Boomer-era of rock ‘n’ roll, which thought that everything it touched was the greatest thing ever and shall remain so until the end of time while all other works will be forever inferior, no.
Every era believes itself to be a pale imitation of the past. Those who don’t are very defensive about asserting that these are the good old days as the scholars of past works scoff and point out the flaws and ridiculousness of contemporary works.
The pulps were spat on by the critics, even as they supplanted literary fiction. Oops. It’s the same way Led Zeppelin was lambasted back in their day. Oops.
The fallacy, especially these days, is that there is only one audience. That might have been true sixty or seventy years ago, but with the Internet that’s completely false. The gatekeepers have nowhere near as much sway as before, and especially as they cater to a narrow and narrower definition of “mainstream,” there are multiple audiences hungry for something outside of the slop they’ve been presented with.
It does feel that our current era is exceedingly stupid. Because it is. We’re in a periodic paroxysm of cultural upheaval that’s bound to happen after over a century of sawing all the branches upon which our civilization sits. The closest historical analogue in time I can think of is the Bolshevik Revolution which, let’s not forget, essentially won here in the United States.
I mean, speaking of audiences, those in charge of our cultural cathedral spend an inordinate time telling 25 to 50 percent of their audience to not enjoy their works and drop dead!
In unrelated news, Star Wars: Episode IX is going to flop.
It’s easier to tell when you’re not in a golden age than when you’re in it. And when you’re in one, don’t be afraid to acknowledge it.
We have to look to the past now because so much of the present is indefensible. Drug-addled Luciferian libertines have proven time and again that their only skill is destruction. Pretty, well-made destruction, but that’s like saying “Sure, it’s a pile of poison-covered shit, but look how well they composed it!”