Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class
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Change is no stranger to us in the twenty-first century. We must constantly adjust to an evolving world, to transformation and innovation. But for many thousands of creative artists, a torrent of recent changes has made it all but impossible to earn a living. A persistent economic recession, social shifts, and technological change have combined to put our artists—from graphic designers to indie-rock musicians, from architects to booksellers—out of work. This important book looks deeply and broadly into the roots of the crisis of the creative class in America and tells us why it matters.
Scott Timberg considers the human cost as well as the unintended consequences of shuttered record stores, decimated newspapers, music piracy, and a general attitude of indifference. He identifies social tensions and contradictions—most concerning the artist’s place in society—that have plunged the creative class into a fight for survival. Timberg shows how America’s now-collapsing middlebrow culture—a culture once derided by intellectuals like Dwight Macdonald—appears, from today’s vantage point, to have been at least a Silver Age. Timberg’s reporting is essential reading for anyone who works in the world of culture, knows someone who does, or cares about the work creative artists produce.
breaks with his peers who see today’s difficulties as similar to transitions like the Industrial Revolution that ultimately created more jobs than they destroyed. “We’re talking about a new reality,” he says. “When you don’t need people for their muscle power, or for their communication abilities, or for their pattern recognition, an entrepreneur, someone wanting to start a company, looks around and says, ‘Remind me what I need human labor for?’ The pool of things that’s uniquely human is
develop a project, but they feel compelled to find a job with health care. People stay in jobs they don’t like because they’re terrified to leave. I know from my own experience of being a freelancer, medical coverage is staggeringly expensive. Throw in a partner and a child, and it becomes extremely daunting. What should be an exciting way to pursue one’s career becomes fraught with peril.” The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was developed and passed into law in part because of the
their musicians), driving a hundred miles each way for four rehearsals and two concerts a month. “I just do a lot of driving, like every freelancer I know,” she said. Every week students come to her apartment for lessons. The economy—and the loss of audience and donors—mean her work is down by about a third. “There’s more and more time between jobs.” It’s even tougher, she noted, for people who rely on the movie studios. “Even before the economy went down, studios started doing more outside
apostles of corporate synergy would find ways to bring their bands coverage in the publications they own. But the leading rock-criticism website, Pitchfork, surrendered its integrity after a “strategic partnership” with Fader Media and Cornerstone Promotions, lifestyle-marketing firms that generate cool branding for Pepsi, Levi’s, and Reebok. Pitchfork’s new section, journalist Chris Ruen writes, has become “a surreptitious space for Cornerstone to promote its projects while enjoying Pitchfork’s
the United States Senate is here: www.reclaimthemedia.org/index.php?q=journalistic_practice/wire_creator_david_simon_testi0719. Simon wrote about the parallels and differences between newspapers and cable television in a Columbia Journalism Review essay, “Build the Wall,” July 21, 2009 (www.cjr.org/feature/build_the_wall_1.php?page=all). Chrystia Freeland’s Plutocrats (Penguin, 2012) served as useful background for this chapter and others. Daniel Boorstin’s The Image (Vintage, 1992) is a