The Magazine

Art of the Possible

Surprising lessons to be learned in popular culture.

Dec 31, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 16 • By BRUCE EDWARD WALKER
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For a variety of reasons, the greatest artistic energy can sometimes be found in the commercial media, which continually offer artists new opportunities for original and even groundbreaking work as well as the potential for substantial and sometimes spectacular financial rewards.

He identifies directors Burton, Scorsese, John Ford, and Edgar G. Ulmer, as well as television auteurs Chris Carter (The X-Files) and David Milch (Deadwood), as artists who have left an indelible mark on popular culture after successfully bucking the Hollywood system. “If, as the Marxists claim, Hollywood directors are subject to the demands of the American bourgeoisie,” he notes, “Rembrandt was no less dependent on the whims of Dutch burghers for the commissions that kept him in business.”

What follows is a morale-booster for those who think pop culture has reached its nadir of late. Nothing could be further from the truth, as Cantor explains. For every Gene Roddenberry (creator of Star Trek), who promoted centralized solutions provided by an intellectual elite, there exist innumerable artists who champion creative freedom, and promote spontaneous order in our culture. 

Bruce Edward Walker is a regular contributor to the American Culture blog.