On the dumbing down of art

I watched The Sound of Music Live on NBC last night.  Well, part of it.  At 10 I had lost interest so I switched over to Scandal…

Every time I see a “mainstream” TV or movie production of a musical, I’m disappointed.  Every time a celebrity is cast in a leading role that they lack the skills to perform, and “real musicians” of the world can’t stop talking about how awful the performance was, I’m disappointed.  

I’m disappointed that musical productions that try to reach a mainstream audience feel that they need to resort to these kind of stunts.  Why can’t a production be exciting because it is filled with talented performers who do an excellent job of bringing the show to life?  Why is it so inconceivable that an American audience might appreciate art without it being dumbed down and celebrity-filled?  Why is a mediocre performance by a superstar more marketable than an exceptional performance by a skilled musical theater singer/actor?  

This is why people think musical theater sucks.  This is why opera is considered a dying art form.  Because the general assumption is that the public is too stupid to appreciate truly great art.

It’s also disappointing how many of my singer friends have felt the need to jump on the “Carrie was awful” bandwagon.  Now I’m not saying that she did a great job as Maria.  Her acting was lackluster, but honestly she did better than I thought she would.  Her singing, in spite of the tendency to inappropriately slip into heavy pop-style belting, wasn’t terrible.  Considering that she totally lacked the skills to succeed at what she was attempting, she did just fine.  Those of us who have worked hard to hone our skills as singers/actors/dancers/performers should be supportive of others who are trying to do the same.  We shouldn’t have to destroy each other to feel better about ourselves.  

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