(((Apologies to BT mods for previous ridiculously long post, I won't make a habit of it! I've managed to more than halve the character count - still a bit long I know but I hope this is a bit better. I hope it still makes some sort of sense, my brain has turned to mush!))).
I've been (reluctantly!!!!!!) out of the loop for quite a while ballet-wise and I haven't posted (or even lurked) here for a loooong time. But I recently watched the video of Jaered Glavin's piece for RNZ ballet (the one set to the 'Lady GaGa' song 'Bad Romance') and I've noticed there's been some other ballet works that have involved her and so I did a search to see if anyone here at Ballet Talk had been discussing it (answer: only in passing in this thread as far as I can tell). But although there isn't much discussion of RNZB/ GaGa here, the rest of this thread does tie in perfectly with what I wanted to say anyway, so here goes...
Regarding the inappropriate sexualization of children/ young people against a general backdrop of dumbing down, loss of innocence, erosion of values (and other issues discussed in this thread) I'm sure we've all noticed these same themes being brought up in similar conversations/ debates all over the world, but what amazes me is that, by and large, no one ever makes much reference to what I am calling out as being the elephant in the room:
The fact that today arts/ entertainment / culture is becoming increasingly sponsored, influenced, owned, controlled and therefore defined by giant interlocking faceless corporations who's main purpose in this world, beyond ALL other considerations (by design, don't blame them - they can't help it), is to increase their power and dominance in the marketplace and make as much money as possible, as soon as possible, and as effectively and efficiently as possible.
And so my question is this: How can we possibly hope to make sense of the kinds of issues raised in this thread without even bringing up this fact and examining its (presumably) far reaching implications? In fact what is the point in even discussing culture, morality, trends in attitudes, behaviour, fashion etc without properly recognizing and investigating this most powerful and influential group? You know, that group of interlocking faceless corporations which together are increasingly responsible for our entire mainstream 'culture'!!!
This is especially significant because corporate agendas and strategies are basically 'political' agendas and 'war' strategies in the sense that they are primarily about power, money, control, domination, fighting off (or cutting deals with or simply acquiring) all competition as well as creating and defining a target market and then conquering it. Note the aggressive war-like terms. This kind of ruthless, competitive mindset may be good for driving innovation in cell phones, laptops, cars etc (ie making everything thinner, faster, sexier while simultaneously creating and defining a cult-like obsession with such characteristics in order to keep the target market operating like rabid consumers)... but it may be not so great for driving art/ entertainemt/ cultural trends (ie making everyone thinner, faster, sexier while simultaneously creating and defining a cult-like obsession with such characteristics in order to keep the target market operating like rabid consumers!!!).
Unlike more old fashioned competition and business strategies which I think can benefit art/ entertainment/ culture in many ways, these giant interlocking corporations are now growing to a ridiculous size, not least because they are all merging together, resulting in ever more centralization of power and control in the hands of a few and with this comes the standardization and homogenization of art/ entertainment/ culture across the world.
I feel that this is fairly easy to understand intellectually but harder to appreciate fully - in terms of what is actually *happening* right now as well as what the potential implications are. The main reason for this is that we are still letting other people DEFINE for us what is art/ entertainment (and so by definition what art / entertainment IS) and we are automatically and unquestioningly (unconsciously even) accepting these definitions on cue. If something is defined for us as a 'pop video' or 'movie' or 'fashion' or whatever most people automatically accept these definitions, and judge accordingly. We may like it or dislike it (react to it) but we'll generally accept, for instance, the definition of a 'pop video' without even really knowing (and certainly never thinking to question and investigate) what, in today's world, a 'pop video' actually IS or how 'being a pop artist' actually, you know, works in reality - I mean in REAL LIFE, behind the scenes, beyond this corporate controlled mass entertainment/ mass media circus show.
This may have been a perfectly reasonable attitude in the past when artists and entertainers themselves were far more responsible for defining their art and entertainment, and the media and entertainment culture was a lot less sophisticated and powerful, but today huge corporations are increasingly defining art/ entertainment through their totally manufactured and controlled 'artists' and they are using vastly more powerful, intrusive and CONVINCING mass media technologies and techniques to do so. And we, the masses, do more than merely accept these definitions - we USE them ourselves (for instance in casual conversation) ..... we participate in them. And as we participate en masse in the use of these definitions provided for us we end up validating them, through our own participation, until they become part of our accepted 'reality'.
And so by not questioning or challenging these definitions we are effectively writing a note to the industry saying 'Hey, feel free to define our culture for us, and we'll go along with it'. In this way you could say 'dumbing down' is something we are absolutely bringing on ourselves.
It's easy to see how the fast food industry (the same corporate agendas) defines its food as 'Happy' or 'fun for kids' or whatever but WON'T define it as the end result of the most ruthlessly efficient process involving some vaguely food-like material along with a lot of dubious high tech alchemy in order to produce a completely non nutritious, unhealthy, yet instantly satisfying and potentially addictive 'meal experience' designed to make maximum profits above all other considerations, including your potential ill health and reduced life expectancy. It's up to us to come up with definitions like that - and act accordingly - and this is not very difficult to do. In fact I bet most people reading this don't really classify 'fast food' as real *food* at all.
But it's not quite so clear cut with the mainstream art/ entertainment industries because (1) there's so many more different people involved and (2) whereas fast food may make use of information (advertising etc) to sell their products, with the mass entertainment industries the product itself IS information. Which begs the question: where does the art/ entertainment end and the advertising, indoctrination, product placement and so on begin?! What evidence is there that the whole mass entertainment industry isn't just manufacturing some kind of advertising/ product / indoctrination/ cultural conditioning/ social programming hybrid monster genre in order to specifically benefit their short/ long term money making agendas and in doing so redefining art/ entertainment/ culture (civilization!) along the way? And if it is, should WE ourselves still be defining it as, and treating it as 'art/ entertainment'? Isn't that sheer madness? And what do we do with genuine art/ entertainment? In fact how do we even tell what is what anymore?!
And this is where it gets really interesting for me because I would suggest these complex (or not so complex) corporate messages (which I'll go into a bit more in a bit) filter down through the music, videos, image etc of the controlled 'super league stars' and this in turn helps to set the trends for the rest of the lower levels of the industry (the less well known artists, producers, image consultants etc) to pick up on. This is relevant to modern ballet/ dance because, even if it is largely immune from being controlled directly by giant corporations in the way popular music is, choreographers today do tend to be very influenced by what's happening around them such as science/ technology, media, society and other arts including popular music/ videos/ fashion.
And with every arts scene so full of people desperate to 'make it' (which often translates as: copy what seems to be popular right now) these popular trends easily get reinforced and reworked and the whole thing starts to look more like a natural, spontaneous process ....... and in this sense it almost is EXCEPT it is not from the ground roots up, it is from the top down and then back up again (gross simplification but you know what I mean I hope). And this completely invalidates the whole process in my opinion. And with artists, audience, producers, clubbers, fashion/ style/ image professionals and the whole youth culture all chasing the same basic trends and multiplying/ reflecting these trends in every direction it only serves to validate, reinforce and anchor the agenda, the messages, defined *initially* right at the top by the corporations themselves, which then sets up our whole culture ready to be taken on to the next stage.
I would suggest the RNZB/ GaGa ballet piece is an example of this process happening. The reason why GaGa is in vogue right now (slight understatement) is because, regardless of any talent or not, she has signed up to the agenda of the pop 'super league', if she hadn't we probably still wouldn't have heard of her. Her videos and all round message are absolutely 100% in line with every other artist currently in that league. Today every artist in the 'super league' is either been brought in or let in and has surrendered artistic, moral, aesthetic control whether willingly, reluctantly, naively etc.
Many people - including intelligent, discerning people - seem to view GaGa as some kind of refreshingly original force in pop music, sent here on a mission to inject a tired and formulaic industry with much needed pazazz and bizarreness. Acting out a blood sacrifice before being winched up in front of a blatantly freemasonic backdrop during a live performance (2009 VMA's) might seem 'refreshing' or 'crazy!' to some people or perhaps just a welcome respite from all the gun toting and crotch grabbing (and that's just Rihanna!), but it's all really just a continuation of the same basic messages the industry has been pumping out for years. The increasing 'shock factor' is only used to distract us from the truth that the messages (values, ideas, emotions, concepts) put out by the industry through these 'artists' are as limited and limiting as the strictest most bonkers religious cult (in this case the cult of dumbed down corporate celebrity based consumerism - and it really is a cult if you stop and think about it). While it is true she has more creative input to her songs than many artists at that level (some of which probably have no creative input whatsoever) and has more intelligence and charisma than most (not exactly difficult) it is also clear that she has been swallowed up - assimilated - by the corporate music industry machine and like the other artists in that league GaGa is just another spokes(wo)man for the agendas being pushed by the corporate music industry cult leaders.
So, anyway, along comes Jaered who decides to have some fun with a piece choreographed to her music. Naturally it is aligned with the general GaGa message/ vibe (which is in turn aligned with and dictated by the industry's message). So let's hear what Jaered has to say about his dance piece:
"When we made it we used all classical ballet steps - it's all on pointe - even though the shoes are gold - but we wanted to distort it and make it really ugly so the knees would be bent the feet would be clawed ..... just make ballet hideous... and yeah .. and just outrageous really."
Well if that doesn't totally sum up the corporate agenda for art I don't know what does!
Now I don't actually think Jaered wants to destroy art or corrupt culture (but you never can tell, he does look a little bit shifty!) and I don't even think Lady GaGa does either - although in all seriousness I am sure she couldn't care less, she is after all a 'Fame Monster' (this used to be called 'being a sell out'....but has now been redefined in a more fun way!). Nor do I think this piece does any harm to anything or anyone by itself, how could it? - that would be ridiculous. Nor do I think art/ culture needs to be protected or conserved (in a defensive way I mean). Breaking rules, destroying what's gone before, mixing it all up, subverting traditions, and HAVING SOME FUN AND BEING A BIT SILLY etc etc is all perfectly fine - obviously!
And yet...... it's telling to me that the ONLY thing I know about Jaered (seems like a lovely chap, I don't really think he looks shifty at all!) or his work is the above quote and a short ballet of his where the dancers wear 'dollar sign' sunglasses, act at times like vacuous catwalk models/ divas (obviously imitating GaGa style) and there was even (gasp) a shocking lesbian kiss moment. That isn't so much a reflection on him but of the media and the mass entertainment industry.... and that's how it seems to work. Like I said, the agenda comes down from the top (unnaturally) and then is replicated and reflected back up again (naturally).
This piece may have little direct effect on human civilization on its own but it does nevertheless help to reinforce GaGa (and the corporate agenda/ message she represents) as being valid and important and supposedly (one of) the best things happening in the 'art/ entertainment' world right now. It helps make GaGa's position seem very real and natural when in fact it is a largely contrived illusion and a vehicle for promoting various messages, in order to help secure the corporate take over of all art/ entertainment/ culture ... of the world!!! A thousand other similar scenarios like this all over the world will also give the same impression to the various other bearers of the corporate torch and it's only when you imagine this collective effect and then play that continuous evolving process out over a few years and then even decades, and then several generations that we can get a feel for how it can have an effect on human civilization! The last 50 years or so is, after all, the first time in at least 12,000 years of human history that we have seen the rapid creation of a global culture which is increasingly owned and controlled by a shrinking number of ever increasingly powerful global corporations with the use of unprecedentedly powerful media technology at their disposal. Something to think about?.... perhaps? .... just don't let the media decide for you - the media represents those very same corporations and will say 'don't listen to this crazy ranting person, it's all just harmless entertainment!'
This ballet also shows (to me anyway) that if something furthers/ reinforces the basic agenda it gets picked up and shoved in our faces and if it doesn't further the agenda then we probably don't get to see it or hear about it. And if Jaered wanted to do future collaborations with GaGa or make more GaGa-esque pieces using her music he would probably get a lot more exposure and possibly money being thrown his way. Other projects maybe less so.
With things set up in this way the natural urge among ('normal', genuine, no hidden agenda) artists to be successful (ie to follow certain trends they think will be or are already proving popular) will *inevitably* result in us all steering 'art/ entertainment/ culture' in a direction very much influenced by these giant corporations, even without us realising we are doing it. And given the HUGE UNPRECEDENTED POWER of the mainstream media and communications technology in general today just how much of an effect on global culture could even the most subtle interference/ influence (by powerful corporations) have on culture/ society/ civilization over an extended period of time?!
In fact I think this is exactly what HAS been happening for decades - especially with music and film/ television. As someone once said, 'all media is influenced and informed by all preceeding media'. Just where might we be culturally and socially *without* corporations involvement over the last few decades?!
And of course now we also have a culture (thanks again to those nice corporations and clever multi millionaire businessmen like Simon Cowell) which is being reprogrammed (redefined) to be more obsessed than ever before with 'fame', 'status', 'success' and 'competition'. Yet we know those who are creating this culture of competitiveness and fame worship are also dictating to an increasing degree who actually becomes famous.
It's incredible to think that just a few years ago the industry still tried to HIDE the fact that they manufactured bands or 'stars' using strict and cynical formulas. But now they are doing it publicly, in fact in front of live theatre audiences! Now we enjoy watching multi millionair industry scouts and their C-list celeb side kicks find naive, malleable, fame seeking wannabes (fame monsters) with just the right looks, voice, 'personality', juggling skills (whatever) and openly make a fast buck with them. Simon Cowell might as well just turn around to the audience and say, "Would you buy that?..... yeah?....... OK, the masses like her, we'll use this one .... guards! ... take her to her quarters, we'll start training her tomorrow."
End result: Artists/ entertainers now redefined as media generated caricatures of people who's only dream in life was to sign away control of their image and 'personality' to corporations in exchange for money, fame and celebrity. 'Cult of celebrity' teaching children to aspire to sell out (competitively - who can sell out the best!) to corporations in exchange for fame. And so with a super league of sell outs at the top and the great unwashed masses all competitively seeking fame at all costs (desiring to sell out) at the bottom, the corporations can begin to literally redefine arts / entertainment in terms of everyone selling out to them, or buying the products related to the people who have sold out to them. If that isn't the conquering of a market I don't know what is. (although I'm sure they can, and will try to take it much further).
Such is the crazy world we now live in! We have indeed come a long way. This whole system is absolutely obscene when you deconstruct it - but if you just accept the official definitions as they are presented to us it feels like a first rate 'family entertainment based culture' with high production values, snappy editing and at least one guaranteed hot presenter in every TV show. And this kind of glossy, well produced Saturday Night TV Entertainment is exactly the kind of thing we all crave so badly, right?
......... The mass entertainment / mass media industries are VERY GOOD at what they do, you can't take that away from them!
In addition to this kind of dumbing down many of today's 'super league' pop videos (and 'fashion', 'movies' etc to a lesser extent) are all absolutely full of occult, satanic, masonic, (trauma based) mind control, transhumanist and other types of imagery and symbolism to the point of being ridiculously blatant about it. This gives some indication of the types of people involved in (certain areas of) the industry and the deeper agendas/ beliefs/ practices they have. In fact some of the recent industry award shows are blatant masonic rituals from start to finish. As one music industry insider said in an interview, "...parents go out and buy all this stuff to make their kids happy not realizing they are feeding their kids to the wolves". Most people think they are just silly pop videos, with now other meaning other than 'entertainment' - they believe this because (as I've been kind of suggesting quite a lot) that's how they have been defined for us. Yet if you've ever watched any videos by Jay-Z, Beyonce, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, Black Eyed Peas, Lady GaGa, Mariah Carey, Kerli (to name a few) your subconscious will have noticed all of this symbolism, imagery and hidden meanings even if your conscious mind didn't. And this is all in addition to the rest of the dumbed down messages they all contain!
Whether this is part of the 'rules' of the secret societies that run so much of the industry or whether it is an attempt to desensitize people (semi subliminally) to occult and other themes is up for debate. Certainly predictive programming is a BIG strategy used in the music and movie industries to get people used to certain specific ideas, concepts, behaviours - particularly in relation to the relentless implementation of Orwellian technologies into our lives. Some people even suggest they put the occult or freemasonic imagery and themes in just to test if anyone will notice - to see just how dumbed down everyone is!
Or you could look at it simply as the continuation of a long gradual process which has been going on for decades. Because when you stop 'judging and reacting' and instead ...... step back, take a deep breath and look at it again.... it's pretty obvious the majority of the mainstream art/ entertainment inflicted on us is an affront to everything special, sacred, meaningful and above all human in the world and has been for generations. It's almost like a relief to be able to admit it! It is NOT a reflection of us, nor we of it - if we are honest. It is trash and we are human beings, infinite creatures full of love and creativity!!! And like I said at the beginning, I think we all know this rationally and intuitively, it's just a case of understanding better what is going on in order to have the confidence and clarity to stand by what we already know. Of course I'm not saying there aren't many people in the art/ entertainment industries trying their best to be positive, productive and sincere within such a sick environment but it is basically a hijaked industry (at the 'top' anyway). Hijacked by corporate interests and mentality.
The mass entertainment/ media industries are pretty dark and evil (at certain levels anyway) if you ask me, although I should say I'm not in the least bit religious myself and so I'm talking more in archetypal terms, mindsets and methodology. And in that sense what could be more 'evil' (unbalanced) than attempting to corrupt the population by stealth and deception through mass entertainment (which let's face it is little more these days than mass indoctrination, mass distraction and mass deception) and by destroying art by subverting it, subtly REDEFINING it out of existence - just to control the market better and generate money?
I believe this kind of 'evil' takes hold wherever we lack proper understanding. Don't they say the devil uses trickery/ deception/ flattery to make people do bad things ..... and that his greatest trick of all was to convince everyone he does not exist? Again, I see this as a perfect metaphor for the art/ entertainment/ media industries. By defining themselves as providers of harmless, fun, frivolous entertainment everyone lets their guard down, no one thinks critically and no one questions the reality being presented to them. Instead we judge and react, judge and react.....And before we know it we're all dancing to violent, misogynistic, ego centric garbage, watching violent and idiotic movies, worshipping personality disordered celebs (and being entertained when they act 'crazy') as if it were all normal 'entertainment' (whatever that means) and as if none of it matters , there are no consequences and life is like an episode of 'Friends' ................. and then we wonder why culture, society and the whole world is becoming increasingly corrupted and messed up!
But I don't really see this as a moral issue - although we can of course talk in those terms. What I mean is I don't think we need to be thinking in terms of censorship or more conservative values or being protective of culture - because although corporate mass art/ entertainment is having a negative impact on our culture and society, ultimately (in the 'big picture' sense) I think it is acting more like an indicator of how much WE have simply lost touch with reality ... with our instincts, creativity, spirit, heart, soul - our higher functions!
The real issue is not what's going on 'out there' in art/ entertainment / culture or society at large, but what's going on inside every single one of us. And isn't that perfectly demonstrated by this out-of-control corporate/ consumerism dominated world? .... it is the type of world we get when our state of being is all about constantly looking 'out there' to express ourselves and to solve all problems (through products, services, objects, images, 'stuff', status, hierarchy, control) instead of asking the questions and finding the answers inside first. We are externalizing everything to the point that there is nothing left inside! Just look at celebs! Perfect beings - all surface and no interior! Or switch on the TV - no one is thinking, instead they are just judging and reacting, judging and reacting, judging and reacting..... that's what we all do these days.
This is why I believe the most revolutionary act today is to question our (largely media imposed) reality, think critically for ourselves and trust our own heart, instincts and common sense ..... and trust each other! And perhaps switch off the TV - throw it out and have a street party or something - get to know your neighbours! (And if you want to keep your TV at least insist on installing your own TV in the offices and boardrooms of every media corporation and transmitting YOUR programming, your messages, your mindset 24/7 into the minds of all who work there - just to make it a two way thing, just to make it fair!).
Investigating and trying to understand corporate agendas and strategy in relation to art/ entertainment/ culture (and beyond, but I've tried to stay focused) can be a bit shocking and unsettling! (of course you might all think I'm being hysterical and talking rubbish! -which is fine by me, I'm not trying to convince anyone to 'believe' me - nor do I pretend to really know what is going on). But after a while shock turns to intrigue and you start to think crazy thoughts like 'what would happen if we all stopped supporting these corporations and their agendas and kind of made our own culture and defined our own reality?!' .... 'how far culturally (as a civilization!) could we go if we had full control of art/ entertainment and children were not being dumbed down and assaulted by this 'culture' of violence, ego, moronic idiocy, status, fame etc?'
I hope no one objects to such a lengthy, slightly rambling post about what might be seen as controversial or even 'political' subject matter, especially from such an infrequent poster. I couldn't be any less interested in political matters, believe me! I care only about welfare of my fellow HUMAN BEINGS and my only motivation for posting is that if I was a parent of young children myself I would want to read a post like this. Having said that, I'm not trying to convince anyone to agree with anything I've written - I'm just suggesting there might be a lot more to know regarding these subjects and that it might be worth investigating further. I hope my post comes across as largely positive (in a funny, ranty sort of way). In all seriousness I think young people today are a far more 'advanced species' than the rest of us - despite the pressures of this crazy time we find ourselves in, or maybe because of it. Sure, some are struggling to cope with the messed up world we have created for them (not exactly surprising!), but so many young people I've encountered show far more wisdom, knowledge, awareness and emotional/ spiritual balance than we could probably ever hope to manage.... and if they can stay true to themselves (and if we can give them the support to do that) then the future is guaranteed to get better for all. Sorry that probably sounds a bit pompous, but I really mean it!
I really do feel we are all ‘under attack’ from the kinds of ‘corporate agendas’ I've described - but young people particularly - and I feel so much of what’s typically described as *their* social or behavioral problems is really just fall out from that (they are casualties of war!). It’s the least we can do to try and understand, with our adult perspective, what on earth is going on in the world and be a bit more ‘street wise’, for all our sakes.
A few ‘off the top of my head’ suggestions for further research in case anyone is interested:
'Starsuckers' (search youtube) excellent documentary on celebrity, mass media culture.
vigilantcitizen.com - explores the occult, transhumanism, mind control etc themes so prevalent in movies and music today in a sober, methodical, non hysterical way.
'The Century of the Self' (search youtube) a fascinating four part series charting history of propaganda/ public relations and mass media throughout the 20C
'The Age of Transitions' (search youtube) documentary about transhumanism