Smashing Pumpkins’ Cyr Will not be Mellon Collie


“It’s not Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness,” will be the theme of the critical reaction to the new Smashing Pumpkins new album Cyr. The songs we’ve heard from this upcoming album thus far aren’t too bad, but they’re not Mellon Collie. At this date, some 25 years since its release (!), Billy Corgan probably has a love/hate relationship with the album called Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. We can guess that he loves the fact that he created what many call a masterpiece, for not many artists do, but he probably hates that everything he created lives in its shadow.

We all have varying tastes, of course, and some might say they prefer one of the other Smashing Pumpkins’ albums, but even they would admit Mellon Collie and Siamese Dream had special, timeless, and transcendental qualities about them that are difficult to recapture. Some of us call them masterpieces in their own right, and others say they are the products of Billy Corgan’s creative peak.

What is a creative peak? It is as difficult for artists to create, as it is to maintain. It is equally as difficult for the rest of us to explain. We can say that our reaction to it was a time and place phenomenon, and we could say that Billy Corgan’s creation of it had something to do with this phenomenon too. The finished products, coupled with the worldwide reaction to them might have satisfied Corgan’s need to prove himself, and he’s never been able to duplicate that inner drive. Those of us who have never accomplished such feats don’t know how hard it must be to recapture the elements that drove Corgan to create these albums. I don’t intend that to be a commentary on Billy Corgan’s work that followed, for I think most of his work post-Mellon Collie has been better than the vast majority of his peers, but he set such a high bar for himself with Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie. Every artist goes through peaks and valleys, and most of them cannot explain them. We can’t explain them either, as I wrote, we couldn’t explain why we prefer some art to others, but we know it when we see/hear it, especially in hindsight.

When creative peaks prove as fruitful as Corgan’s was, most of us laymen just assume that they will last forever, and when they don’t, we express our disappointment by saying, “It’s a good album, but it’s not as good as their masterpiece. It’s almost like they’re not trying anymore.” Everyone assumes that Kurt Cobain would’ve just gone on, had he lived, writing top-notch albums, but as Cobain wrote, “Teenage angst has paid off well. Now I’m bored and old.” It was almost as if he was preparing us for what was going to follow, if he lived of course.

If we lump Siamese Dream in with Mellon Collie, and we add Aeroplane Flies High and Pisces Iscariot into the mix, I think we can say that Billy Corgan had an enviable five-year run. Some of the songs on those latter two productions were definitely B-sides, but if we removed some of the top-notch songs on Aeroplane, we might be able to put together two high quality albums. We diehard fans have done so on blank cassette tapes and MP3 playlists. It just seems unfair to compare everything he’s done since, and everything he will do in the future to that creative peak, but such is the nature of art.

Billy Corgan and Co. were a songwriting machine from roughly 1993 to 1996. It was an incredibly creative period for Billy Corgan, Jimmy Chamberlain, and James Iha. (I’m sure Chamberlain, Iha, and D’arcy had more creative input than reports suggest, but from what I’ve read Corgan was the maestro/dictator in the studio.) Personally, I loved the album Gish, and I devoured that album before Siamese Dream’s release, but I wouldn’t put on the same shelf as Mellon Collie and Siamese Dream. I realize that some of the material on the boxset likely predates Siamese Dream, so let’s be generous in our estimate and say this creative period stretched out over a five year, incredibly prolific creative peak. How many musicians would give whatever remains of their otherwise damaged livers for 1/5th of the creative output the Smashing Pumpkins had in those five years? Personally, I think it was one of the most prolific periods of music for one artist in rock history, but I think it’s fair to say that the high bar Corgan set during this period ended twenty-five years ago.

I remember when the Smashing Pumpkins released the single Ava Adore. Oh boy,we thought, here we go again. The leap wasn’t as great as the one between Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie for some of us, but we all fantasized that the single was a sign that this peak would last far longer than we thought it would after the Pumpkins released a double album of material followed by a boxset. Siamese Dream was, after all, the opposite of a sophomore jinx. Once Siamese Dream hit out tape deck, Gish was obsolete, and any flirtation we had with the idea that there might be a junior jinx ended the moment we heard the single Bullet with Butterfly Wings. So, when the single Ava Adore came out, it seemed feasible that Corgan was simply a hard rock/pop prodigy who would blow us out of the water every two to three years until the end of his life.    

How could one man, and his band, release so much material in such a small amount of time, and come up with yet another great album? The answer was he couldn’t. The peak was over. I still think that if Corgan saved about eight of the best songs on Aeroplane Flies High, and combined them with the six best songs on Ava Adore, I think he could’ve satisfied critics and fans so much that they would’ve listed Ava Adore as his third best album and part of the creative peak. What motivated Corgan to release the boxset, I suspect, was that he wanted to put Mellon Collie, and everything attached to it, behind him. I think he wanted to defeat the idea of a creative peak in his own mind and challenge himself with a restart.   

***

When critics savaged R.E.M.’s first effort without Bill Berry, 1998’s Up, Michael Stipe complained that he thought Up was a great album. He said that critics unfairly compared Up to their previous five albums, i.e. their creative peak. He said something along the lines of, “If an up and coming band created Up, you critics would be salivating all over it, but because it wasn’t Automatic for the People, Monster, or New Adventures in Hi-Fi, you think the album stinks.” Perhaps Stipe and Co. were frustrated that the high bar they set for themselves that couldn’t be maintained forever, or that they felt like the critics helped cut that peak short prematurely. It’s also possible that the departure of Bill Berry was more profound than anyone imagined. Whatever the case was for them, the critics were right, as Up proved the creative peak was over for R.E.M. They would release four more albums and except for a few singles here and there, those albums only provided further evidence that peaks end for every creative artist.

Stipe’s greater question is worthy of exploration however. How would we regard albums like Ava Adore or Machina, if they came out before Mellon Collie or Siamese Dream? It’s impossible to answer of course, but it’s an interesting question.

Artists can artificially attempt to realign the stars back to the configuration they experienced during their peak. They can bring back ex-members, hire the producer who helped finesse their masterpiece, and they can go back to the basics, after expunging their need to experiment. They can eat nothing but bacon and drink nothing but the flavor of Snapple they drank when they created their masterpiece, but something will forever elude them.

Our immediate reaction to a new Smashing Pumpkins album now is, they just lost it, whatever it is. They can write some great singles here and there, but as far as writing awe-inspiring magic that drove them to create deep cuts and B-sides that are better than most bands’ hit singles, those days are over. The greater question I would ask is, “Did they ever have it?” The answer to that question, to my mind, is an undeniable, “YES! Yes, they did. For five years, Billy Corgan and Co. created some of the most beautiful, most aggressive, and most pleasing music some of us have ever heard.” For all of the comparatively greater praise devoted to bands such as Guns N’ Roses, Metallica and Nirvana, they only had two influential, transcedental albums. As great as Mr. Bungle and Soundgarden were, they only came out with two fantastic albums. How many great bands came out with songs that blew our minds, but they failed to follow those great songs up with enough deep cuts to make a great album? It’s debatable, but I would suggest that great singles blind most people to the fact that most of the albums they were on weren’t as great as we thought they were.

In some ways, legends like The Beatles, Queen, David Bowie, and Led Zeppelin spoiled us by setting such an unreasonable standard for the rest of the bands in music by having more than two great albums. For those who are lucky enough to have more than one great album, they should go on to make the best music they can, but they should know that they will probably never be able to recapture that ‘time and place’ magic that usually only happens once in a lifetime. If it happens twice, live it and love it for as long as it lasts, for it will probably never happen again. This note also goes out to all critics, fans, and everyone in between who judge decent to good albums on the basis that they’re not as great as the albums these artists produced during their peak. How many of our favorite artists never made one great album, top to bottom?

As one reviewer on Allmusic.com wrote, “You can’t blame Billy [Corgan], he already did his best.” This reviewer reminds me of other non-creative types who have never created one piece of art.  suggest that once a creative peak ends the artist should just quit. They should just ride off into the sunset, collect their royalty checks and consider their life well lived. They do the same with athletes. They suggest that after a professional athlete wins a championship that he should just retire. They proved that they did the best they could with their talent, and we all know that it’s downhill from here, so we want him to quit so we can live with this particular memory of him. The one thing we forget is accomplishing incredible feats, in athletic and artistic venues, is so hard that it involves amounts of passion that no critic would understand. The passion and love that drove them to achieve such peaks doesn’t just end after that peak ends, and with Billy Corgan it’s obvious in the beautiful music he’s created since.   

Scat Mask Replica VIII


How much money does the average Fortune 500 Company spend learning the mind of the consumer? How many psychologists, linguists, and marketers do their preferred research firms and marketing agencies consult before starting production on a commercial? Their job is to know what makes us laugh, what makes us cry, and what intrigues us long enough to pitch a product or idea. They also have the unenviable chore of finding a way to keep us from fast forwarding through commercials. The average commercial is thirty seconds long, so advertisers need to pack a lot into a tight space. With all the time, money, and information packed into one thirty-second advertisement, one could say that commercials are better than any other medium at informing us where our culture is. One could even go so far to say that each commercial is a short, detailed report on the culture. If that’s true, all one needs to do is watch commercials to know that the art of persuasion has altered dramatically in our post-literate society.

Booksellers argue that we don’t live in a post-literate society, as their quarterly reports indicate that books are selling better than ever. I don’t question their accounting numbers, but some of the commercials big corporations use to move product are so dumbed down and condescending that I wonder if fewer and fewer people are buying more and more books.

When advertisers make their pitch, they go to great pains, financially and otherwise, to display wonderful messages. They then hire a wonderful actor, or spokesman, to be the face of the company. By doing so, of course, the companies who employ the advertising agencies want the consumer to find their company is just as wonderful. If you’re not a wonderful person, their carefully tailored message suggests you can be if you follow their formula. If I am forced, for whatever reason, to watch a commercial, I find their pitches so condescending that they almost make me angry.

Thirty seconds is not a lot of time when it comes to the art of persuasion, so advertising agencies take shortcuts to appeal to us. These shortcuts often involve quick emotional appeals. The problem with this is that people who watch commercials adopt these shortcuts in casual conversations, and they begin using them in everyday life.

I find the quick, emotional appeals these research and marketing firms dig up so appalling that I avoid commercials as much as possible. I find the opposite so appealing, in comparison, that I probably give attempts at fact-based, critical thinking more credit than they deserve. I walk away thinking, “Hey, that’s a good idea!” whether it’s actually a good idea or not, I appreciate the thought they put into making a rational appeal.

Some quick, emotional appeals add crying to their art of persuasion. “Don’t cry,” I say. “Prove your point.” A picture says a thousand words, right? Wrong. We’ve all come to accept the idea that powerful figures and companies require an array of consultants to help them tailor their message for greater appeal. Yet, if one has facts on their side, they shouldn’t need to cry. They shouldn’t need to hire consultants, they shouldn’t need attractive spokesmen, and the idea that they “seem nice and wonderful” shouldn’t matter either. I know it’s too late to put the genie back in the bottle, but I think the art of persuasion should be devoid of superficial and emotional appeal.

***

Marketing firms and their research arms also spend an inordinate amount of time discussing “the future”. Some ads intone their pitch with foreboding tones, and some discuss it with excitement. Our knowledge of the future depends on our knowledge of the past. As evidence of that, we look to our senior citizens. They don’t pay attention to the present, because they find it mostly redundant. “What are you kids talking about these days?” they ask. We inform them. “That’s the same thing we were talking about 50 years ago.” Impossible, we think, we’re talking about the here and now. They can’t possibly understand the present. They can, because it’s not as different from the past as we want to believe. The one element that remains a constant throughout is human nature.

You’re saying that all the change we’ve been fighting for will amount to nothing? It depends on the nature of your fight. Are you fighting to change human nature? If so, there’s an analogy that suggests, if you’re trying to turn a speedboat, all you have to do is flick a wrist. If you’re trying to change the direction of a battleship, however, you should prepare for an arduous, complicated, and slow turn. My bet is that once we work through the squabbles and internecine battles of the next fifty years, the future will not change as much as these doomsayers want it to, and if it does, it will probably be for the better.       

***

Brian Dettmer

How many people truly want to create works of art? “I would love to write a book,” is something many people say. How many want it so badly that they’re willing to endure the trial and error involved in the process getting to the core of a unique, organic idea? How many of us know firsthand, what a true artist has to go through? If others knew what they have to go through, I think they would say, “Maybe I don’t want it that badly.”

We prefer quick, emotional appeals. How many overnight geniuses are there? How many artists write one book, one album, or paint one painting to mass appeal? How many of them were able to generate long-term appeal? We should not confuse appeal with best seller. The idea of best seller or attaining market appeal is, to some degree, not up to the artist. They might have a hand in the marketing process, but appeal is largely up to the consumer. The only thing an artist can do is create the best product possible in the large and small ways an artist creates. In this vein, creating art involves a process so arduous that most people would intimidate most.

On the flip side, some say that there are artistic, creative types, and there are the others. There’s no doubt that there are varying levels of talent, but I believe that with enough time and effort most people could create something beautiful and individualistic.

Leonardo da Vinci was a talented artist, who painted some of the greatest pieces of art in world history. From what I’ve read about the man, however, he achieved so much in the arts that it began to bore him. After working through his apprenticeship and establishing himself as one of the finest painters of his day, he received numerous commissions for various works of art from the wealthy people and government officials around him. He turned some down, never started others, and failed to complete a whole lot more. One theory I’ve heard on da Vinci is that if he had a starving artist period, he probably created hundreds of thousands of pieces in that period, but that a vast majority of those pieces were lost, destroyed, or are otherwise lost to history. By the time, he achieved a level of stature where those in his day wanted to preserve his work, painting bored him so much that he created comparatively few pieces. Either that, or in the course of his attempts to create that elusive “perfect piece” da Vinci began studying the sciences to give his works greater authenticity. In the course of those studies, he became more interested in the sciences than he was in painting. These are just theories on why we only have seventeen confirmed pieces from Leonardo da Vinci, but they sound firm to me.

***

There is a hemispheric divide between creative types and math and science types. One barometer I’ve found to distinguish the two is the Beatles. So many types love the Beatles that we can tell what type of brain we’re dealing with by asking them what Beatles era they prefer. With the obvious distinctions in style, we can break the Beatles down into two distinct eras, the moptop era includes everything they did before Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, and the “drug-induced” era that followed. Numbers-oriented people generally love the moptop era more, and the creative, more right brain thinkers tend to prefer Sgt. Peppers and everything that followed. The moptop era fans believe the Beatles were a better band during the moptop era, because “they were more popular before Sgt. Peppers. Back then,” they say, “the Beatles were a phenomenon no one could deny.” Moptop era fans often add that, “the Beatles got a little too weird for my taste in the “drug-induced” albums that followed.” Although there is some argument over which album sold the most, at the time of release, it is generally argued that the latter half of their discography actually sold more than the first half. Numbers-oriented people should recognize that the latter albums were bound to sell more if for no other reason than the moptop Beatles built a fan base who would purchase just about anything they created after the moptop era. Those who lived during the era, however, generally think that the Beatles were less controversial and thus more popular during their moptop era, and if you’ve ever entered into this debate you know it’s pointless to argue otherwise. We creative types would never say that the pre-Sgt. Peppers Beatles didn’t have great singles, and Revolver and Rubber Soul were great albums, and we understand that those who lived during the era have personal romantic attachments to their era of Beatles albums, but we can’t understand how they fail to recognize the transcendental brilliance of the latter albums. We think the brilliance and the creativity they displayed on Sgt. Peppers and everything that followed provided a continental divide no one can dispute.

Further evidence of the popularity of the latter half of the Beatles catalog occurred in 1973. In 1973, the Beatles released two greatest hits compilations simultaneously for fans who weren’t aware of the Beatles during their era. The blue greatest hits album, which covered the 1967-1970, post Sgt. Peppers era has sold 17 million to date, while the red greatest hits 1962-1967, moptop-era album has sold 15 million. As anyone who has entered into this debate knows, however, it’s an unwinnable war.

Anti-Anti-Consumer Art


I may be in the minority, but I prefer the work of angry, bitter artists who are unable or unwilling to adjust to cultural norms. If I deign to offer an artist my bourgeoisie, Skittle-eating, domestic beer-drinking, and modern TVwatching opinion on their artistic creation, and they don’t hit me with a red-faced, spittle-flying, “Your opinions are excrement!” rebuttal, I might begin to question if they have the artistic temperament I require of those who lack any other means of venting their rage on the world than through artistic creation.

If I am to view their art in a serious manner, they had better view me as a symbolic substitute for the America-loving, God-fearing, football fan of a father they had, the man who ruined everything they held dear in their youth. I want them to view me as a symbolic substitute for the art critic who deigned to call their work pedestrian, the fellow artist who told them, “You’ll never make it in the art world,” or the art teacher who advised, “You might want to seriously consider changing your major to economics.”

The path to artistic purity is different for every artist, of course, but for most true artists, the primary motivation is not to create pieces consumers enjoy. For the great majority, the struggle of artistic expression is to locate and expound upon their individualistic interpretation of nouns (people, places, and things). While the idea that others may share a love for their interpretations might be exciting and fulfilling, it is not why they feel the need to express themselves. Outside adulation is of secondary concern to them, but it is also gravy. Some, however, create complicated pieces of literature or other forms of art for the expressed purpose of airing their complications. For these artists, the loathing they harbor for the common man’s opinion is so complete that they’re often looking at something else before we can complete our second sentence. Even authors of bestsellers, writing for the sole purpose of writing a bestseller, will argue until they bleed that their intention was not to create something consumers love. “I just happened to accomplish that,” they might argue, as if popularity was an inadvertent side effect of the quality of their creation. No matter how much we might disagree, we really can’t blame them for if they state that they intended to create a product of mass appeal, few would consider them serious artists.

If a starving artist declares how much they love their fans in their artistic statement and they’re hoping to one day see their art exhibited in a New York City gallery, they may do well to avoid the heartache, and headaches, and just consider another profession. If they have that mindset, it might behoove them to try out for the Atlanta Falcons instead. The chances are probably better that they’ll make that team than any team of artists considered for an exhibit in a New York City art gallery. A true artist can say they value input from those who have experienced their work, but they must word these critiques in such a manner that adamantly avoids any form of fan appreciation.

The best chance an artist has for achieving a spot in a prestigious gallery is to condemn everything purported by the consumer standing before them. Their best bet, in fact, is to find an artistic method of denouncing everything everyone believes in, to generate and work from an anti-consumer theme.

The anti-consumer theme has a timeless quality about it, one that goes to the heart of the artist. Its provocative nature does not yield to pop culture winds. It is anti-pop culture and a hot ticket in any era that appreciates its artists.

Little old ladies, in a blatant attempt to appear young and hip, will walk up to an artist in these galleries and try to find some way to tell the artist they find the most disturbing pieces in their portfolio, “Wonderful”, “Amazing”, and “Wonderful and amazing!”

“You are so not my demographic,” a true artist of an anti-consumer piece of art might say in the wake of such comments coming from a little, old lady. A vehement rejection of this sort could enshrine the artist in the word-of-mouth halls of the art world, and their opportunity for such prestige might increase if they added some sort of exclamation to that rejection, such as a healthy stream of spittle dropped on the little old lady’s shoes.

Receiving a compliment from a little, old lady must put an anti-consumer artist in an awkward place. Most artists feel a reflexive warm glow rising whenever they receive a hard-earned compliment from anyone, but the non-conformist artist knows better than to concede to some display of it. The intention of their creation was to reject everything most consumers hold dear, its purpose was to disturb the little old ladies of the world, and its goal was to shake up her conformist mindset. To hear that such a woman allegedly gets the artist’s attempt to disavow and denounce her generation –the generation that the artist purports screwed us all up with their toys, and wars, and unattainable gender-specific imagery– must be vexing for the artist.

Thus, the best way to handle such a situation might be to spit on her shoes. An enterprising, young, anti-consumer artist might even want to create such a scenario in which such an opportunity will arise. They might want to use a found-footage, shaky cam method of capturing the scene for a publicity junket. The artist who pulls such a situation off might just become the talk of the town if she managed to pull it off.

“Did you hear what happened when some old bag complimented Janice on her anti-fifties piece?” other artists would say to one another. “She spit on her shoes.” If such an incident made it through the artist community grapevine, it could become part of the artist’s folklore.

Criticism from some remnant of the 1950’s would be the next-best reaction for the angst-ridden, bitter, angry, anti-conformist artist. “Good, it was meant to unsettle you,” the artist could say. “Its purpose was to cause you to reexamine all the harm your generation has caused us.”

If the patron is not of the fifties generation and they deign to criticize anti-consumer art, they might want to consider the idea that they might be part of the problem. The artist might instruct them to venture outdoors more often to find out what’s going on in the world, or they may want reexamine the full scope of the artist’s narrative. The sociopolitical theme of anti-consumerism invites and hopes to incite criticism, because it is immune to most criticism by its very nature. If that were true, why wouldn’t a curator want their gallery lined with anti-consumer pieces?

The anti-consumer artist doesn’t have to worry about using current products in their projects either, for an anti-consumer artist can employ whatever consumer-related products are necessary to denounce the ethos of an era. A pro-consumer piece does not have such allowances, for to try to create an artistic expression that professes an enjoyment of Superman cereal, the consumer must have some experience with Superman cereal, in order to relate to the theme. That piece will likely evoke little more than some elements of quaint nostalgia. If the artist is unwilling to include some underlying, angst-ridden subtext regarding all the ways in which eating Superman cereal created unrealistic expectations in the patron’s mind and thus messed up that patron’s childhood the artist can be sure the piece will not fetch the kind of price that a bitter, condemnation of being forced to ingest the cereal (and thus the ideals of Superman as well), will.

Is there a sliding scale on anti-consumerist statements? I’m sure many anti-consumer artists would love to know it. If their piece contains subtle, sophisticated irony in its anti-consumer theme, with an ironic twist, what kind of return can they expect for their time? Are vehement declarations of such themes more profitable? Does the price point increase in conjunction with bullet-point adherence to the sociopolitical, anti-consumer theme?

The amount of anti-consumer art for sale in a gallery can be overwhelming, for this has become the most consumer-related, rebellious, radical theme for starving artists to pursue. In fact, “What are you waiting for?” might be the question that fellow artists and curators have for those who hold out. They might even inform the holdouts that anti-consumer art has become the safest theme to explore for any artist that wants to have their work exhibited.

Curators don’t have to worry about fads or trends in the art world, for the very idea of fads and trends violate the anti-consumer artist’s tenets. All a curator has to do is rotate collections of anti-consumer art year round, and their gallery can exist in the radical, counterculture milieu 365 days a year.

How long have anti-consumer pieces held primo spots in top galleries around the nation? One would think the ubiquity of this anti-consumer theme in art galleries would invite a rebellion that would expose it as the market force it purports to detest. It would take a rebel willing to expose the counterculture in their work, regardless of how it affects their pocketbook, because the current art world would not view their work favorably.

As such, framing the concept of their piece would provide an obstacle for the rebel. The rebel would have to word their artistic statement carefully, for it would be career suicide to have their anti-anti-consumer art confused with pro-consumer art.

Grimace-e1414637657704
“Eat at McDonald’s”

“It says ‘Eat at McDonald’s,’” a curator might say with absolute disgust.

“Right on,” the anti-anti-consumer artist would reply. “It’s my attempt to highlight the stereotypical art of anti-consumerism. My portrayal of the McDonaldland character Grimace is used as a vehicle for the larger idea through which I attempt to explore the tendency our counterculture has to use social media and propaganda to prescribe narrow, contrived definitions of art to individuals and the nation.”

The hip, avant-garde patrons of an art gallery would be prone to view the anti-anti-consumer artist’s piece as a stab at consumerism that contains sophisticated irony. They might consider it quaint, hilarious, and an incredible salvo sent to consumers around the world, the people who really don’t get it.

If this anti-anti-consumer artist was available for a Q&A session, and the artist made the mistake of imploring their artistic friends to accept their anti-anti-consumer theme for what it is, the hip, avant-garde smiles would likely flatten. Some might consider the piece obnoxious, and they might even consider the anti-anti-consumer artist a whore for corporate America.

“I just want to celebrate the history and tradition of the McDonaldland character Grimace,” the anti-anti-consumer artist’s intro would be. “My painting is an effort to explore all the joy and happiness Grimace has brought to so many lives.”

“Is that sophisticated irony?” the patrons would ask.

“No. It’s an anti-anti-consumer theme that I am attempting to explore here.”

“So it’s … a pro-consumer statement?” one of the more obnoxious patrons might say to intrude upon the artist’s pitch.

“Good God, no!” the artist must respond, if they hope to generate the amount of interest that might result in a sale.

If the anti-anti-consumer artist has the artistic temperament of one who doesn’t care about the sale, however, and they’re able to maintain focus on the artistic theme, they might have to engage in a substantial back-and-forth with the patrons of their piece before they conclude that the artist isn’t putting them on or being obnoxious.

As stated earlier, being obnoxious in an anti-consumer theme is not just acceptable it’s expected. Stubbornly pursuing an anti-anti-consumer stance, however, will cause others to deem the artist obnoxious and pro-consumer.

Thus, attracting patrons to the anti-anti-consumer exhibit would not even represent the beginning of the artist’s problems, as no self-respecting curator would deign to display their work. I’m guessing most curators aren’t bad people, and they might even have some sympathy for this anti-anti-consumer artist’s frustrations. If the curator’s knowledge of the industry was such that they knew enough about it to be objective, they would probably sit the artist down to inform them of the inner workings of the industry.

“I know you are a passionate artist,” the curator might say, “but you really should reconsider this whole anti-anti-consumer theme. I know you built it to counter the counter, but you should know that this will not play well over the long haul. If you want serious cachet in the art world, there are two genres to consider. These genres include art built on an anti-consumerism theme and the anti-consumer works that are vehement in their theme. I suggest you drop this whole anti-anti-consumer artistic statement and make it known that your work contains a subtle, sophisticated irony with an anti-consumer twist, if you ever hope to sell anything.”

If the anti-anti-consumer artist somehow managed to achieve some degree of success with their theme, they would likely become the scourge of the art world. At some point, fellow artists would also approach the artist, as a coalition of condemnation for the audacity of the anti-anti-consumer theme. “You’re ruining this for all of us. Why would you do this to us? What do you think you’re doing?”

The anti-anti-consumer artist should look them in the eye and ask, “Is that subtle, sophisticated irony?”