Since I went to the art exhibit at Peake Street Studio [ ;) ] two weekends ago I have been rolling the question around in my head about what is the role, or perhaps responsibility (job?) of an artist. Then a thought struck me as I heard this line from Much Ado About Nothing:
Beatrice: I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick.
Nobody marks you.
Benedick: What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?
Isn't that a great line? Wouldn't you love to pull that one off at just the right moment? And it is my theory that it is to provide patrons with such tools is the job of the artist. Mind you, by tool I don't merely mean one line zingers but novel ways of expressing ourselves. Perhaps lines to say, perhaps hooks to hum or movements to duplicate. Essentially to create useful bits of culture to help the listener. In that respect the artist/patron relationship is not so different from any other relationship in that a good artist will empower the patron.
When an artist is seen in this light I think it puts a little bit of light on the issue of blaming artists for violence and the like in their patrons. If you want the patron to not express themselves specifically like that outlawing their art might help. But if they are expressing something negative it is likely going to be expressed negatively. If they are not to express anything at all then somebody has their work cut out for them.
Jewelry commercials, on the other hand, seem to fall into a different category. You know the ones that say stupid things like "Tell her you love her with a diamond." That is one way to do it. Actually, I'm not sure it is. I've given a few gifts like that and not once did it feel like I was saying anything close to 'I love you'. Do you know what I was thinking? 'I hope she likes it.' Because if she doesn't I just wasted a bunch of money. But expression has to mean something in both transmission and reception.
Perhaps the new tag line should be:
"Diamonds let 'Honey, you're worth this much money' get misinterpreted as 'I love you'. "