Mediocre art fades away despite popularity, while truly great work is remembered for years

Bryan Eberly and Bryan Eberly

Artists and craftsmen everywhere can tell you there is a problem with mediocrity.

There are several problems with it, actually. Mediocrity is a waste of time, first off, because producing something menial takes time just as producing something great would.

Mediocrity is an insult to those who create at the peak of their abilities. To try to pass off something of low quality or low value in the same realm as something high quality and of high value is demeaning to everyone involved.

Mediocrity destroys motivation and inspiration by telling those who work as hard as they can that they don’t have to. Mediocrity is the ultimate killer of art and craft. It should never be tolerated.

But it is tolerated and even celebrated by the mainstream of any given culture at any given time. It’s only natural.

If something is easy to create, it is easy to consume. And thanks to the phenomenon of hegemony, popularity is often confused with value.

Put those two aspects together and it’s easy to see why something as trashy and simple as Stephanie Meyers’ “Twilight” is a better seller than Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods.”

Or why Taylor Swift sells more records than Beck.

Et cetera.

The mediocre is easy to absorb and is absorbed by more people, which in turn convinces even more people to try it.

This becomes a problem when the mediocrity becomes popular on the side of the producer.

If “Twilight” and “50 Shades of Grey” require little to no effort to write and yet make a ton of money and create a huge fan base, why should the next Hemingway even bother trying for something more?

Why stretch your talent if people are going to ignore it? Just do your bare minimum and your fans will be happy.

And so the quagmire of poor talent opens up and sucks down the market and culture.

There is a profound secret, however, to escape this quagmire. Or even ignore it altogether. One could say it’s the old cliché of “nice guys finish last.”

While the mediocre becomes popular and culture grows fat on empty art calories, there are still nutrients to be absorbed over the long haul to keep a culture healthy.

That is, while “Twilight” had a great run, it was short lived. And will be forgotten in time.

Meanwhile, people are still buying Steinbeck’s novels. People are still reading Poe. Even Cervantes, author of “Don Quixote,” the first true novel, is read

and celebrated.

And he died about 400 years ago. Stephanie Meyers is still alive and kicking and is being forgotten.

In music, Led Zeppelin and Queen are still celebrated as the zenith of the rock genre [among others, mind you] but they stopped creating music decades ago.

Mozart is still considered the greatest composer to have ever lived. He stopped making music and

died in 1791.

But how many people remember Men Without Hats or Amber? How about 98 Degrees? O-Town?

Mediocrity dies while greatness lives forever.

This column is mostly directed to the artists and craftsmen who feel their work is being pushed aside in favor of trash. I get the feeling. I also have a huge ego.

Don’t be dismayed. Don’t ever feel like you should stop creating or change what you do to something more palpable to the masses.

Keep creating. Do it well and it will be immortalized.

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