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Lady Gaga: Onstage Vomit Sells Doritos? Of Course.

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“Selling In” Not Quite Opposite “Selling Out”

One adorned in a plastic tarp need not "sell out."

One adorned in a plastic tarp need not “sell out.”

Lady Gaga made a plea for “selling in” at SXSW last week. Doritos sponsored her onstage vomit-art, which attests (she said) to her artistic success. But read the Rolling Stone article and you’ll find a more complex, nuanced notion that falls short of completely bowing to the demands of the sponsor.

When Kerry Miller (@DailyCircuit @KerriMPR) wondered aloud what people thought about “selling out,” she echoed a sentiment borne decades before when the big rock and rollers first roamed the earth and bowed to the demands of advertisers to create art to propel commerce. Ms. Miller’s comment generated responses from scholar Patrick Cox (@patrickcoxMN) and others on just what corporate sponsorship was beginning to look like.

Ms. Miller’s generation (also my generation) labeled such people “sell-outs” and tried to work up disdain for them even as we bought the cans of soda or beer or whatever they shilled. Even as we ourselves sold out to the company we worked for. And never mind that the notion of patronage has been around for as long as artists have starved.

Watch the recent Frontline “Generation Like” and you’ll get a sense of how Millenials approach the art vs. commerce question. Gen Y seems largely happy with getting free swag and brandishing logos on their social spaces/shirts/tattoos/hair cuts.

“What’s the big deal?” [They might ask.]

Ms. Kerry’s generation (my generation) is quick to point out that “You, sir, have sold out.” The Millenials I teach might return: “You, sir, have also sold out.” Which would be entirely accurate.

Maybe Gen Y has done us a favor by repackaging the connection between art and commerce: That repackaging looks more like an articulation of authenticity. It is a voice we need to hear today. I’ve been arguing that craft and service (and art and faith) do better together than separated into holy, inviolable silos.

Gen Y is articulating some of this. Not perfectly, but they are closing some gaps and opening others. The “selling out” conversation has changed.


Image credit: Michael Buckner/Getty Images for SXSW via Rolling Stone

Written by kirkistan

March 17, 2014 at 9:36 am

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