How The Art Institute Is Ruining The World...
I was reading a post on a message board recently from a kid that wanted to get into standup comedy (actually that's inaccurate, but for the sake of this rant, let's say he was). What struck me as odd was how he was approaching it. He had noticed that a lot of comedians don't make very much and that stand up clubs also pay next to nothing unless you're an already famous headliner. So his first question out of the gate was how to 'make a good living' as a comedian.
While on the surface, this may seem like a pretty legitimate question, I think it speaks to an attitude that is ruining most of the art in this world. Unlike some people, I believe that comedy, and especially standup comedy, is an art form, and that no one should ever approach the idea of becoming an artist with the question, "Yeah, but how do I make money at it?". The great thing about all forms of art is that no one needs corporate permission to become a successful artist. You just do it, and if people like it, they pay you for it. Comedy does not require a massive influx of cash. It's you, on a stage, with a microphone that someone else has already paid for. There is no form of art less expensive to the artist.
So what does this have to do with the Art Institute? Well, the A.I. pretends to be able to teach artists how to be successful and poisons young minds with the idea that art is like any other discipline. That, like accounting, you just have to be taught how to do it and then people will hire you to do it. The only thing missing from this equation, however, is that most artforms,especially 'being funny', cannot be taught.
Imagine if a normal university taught accounting by only teaching you what a calculator looks like and how to get an accounting job, leaving out the actual 'accounting' altogether. These graduates would probably get hired because of their degree, but everyone would slowly realize that none of the accountants actually know anything about what they're doing other than how to convince people that they should be accountants.
Even though I'm not totally convinced I'm making any sense here, I'll continue on...
By selling impressionable young minds on the idea that you're 'equipping them' with all the tools they need to be a successful artist, you are in a sense, releasing people into the world of art confident enough to believe that they deserve to get paid for art they haven't even created yet. In other words, they feel entitled to money they may or may not ever deserve.
Standup comedy is a tough, tough thing to do, and people should only do it if they love it. A good test on whether or not you love it is if you'll do it for free. There is absolutely nothing worse than going to an open mike comedy night and watching people do standup who HATE what they're doing but are only there to try and land a sitcom so they can stop doing what you're investing your time watching them do.
Sorry if I'm all over the place here, but for some reason it annoys me that the A.I. has been so successful convincing people that art is like any other commercial venture, and that if you learn the 'rules' and work hard, you'll be as good at being an artist as a plumber or auto mechanic is once he graduates from trade school.
And before anyone brings it up, yes, I know, I went to art school. So?