From the misery of the artistic world

José Herman, Sketch of a crouching miner
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By ARTHUR MOURA*

We have an art that is weakened from a social point of view, but strong from its market demands

Introduction

The condition of art in capitalism is an accessory condition, therefore failing to fulfill a transformative social function. Artistic expressions are, however, a stage for struggles, as professor Nildo Viana highlights. These struggles revolve around certain social contradictions present in capitalist society. This tension, however, does not hide bourgeois hegemony in the arts. On the contrary. This orientation is increasingly clear, even though artistic expressions often have a popular character, reflecting not the set of interests of the proletariat, but the values ​​of the dominant class and its auxiliary classes, even though they are led by representatives of subordinated sectors, which makes the issue even more complex from the point of view of understanding and solving existing problems.

In this sense, we have an art that is weakened from a social point of view, but strong from its market demands. It is clear that in this process it is necessary to look in detail at each field of arts, but it is still possible to make a general statement: art, cinema, music, theater, are cornered by capital, serving much more an alienating process of production and consumption where artists are facilitators of this condition. The misery of the artistic world reiterates the subordinate position of the arts and their producers, who have become slaves to the market. The public, in turn, consumes this entire package, which includes music (for example) as one of the items to be consumed within a context where the main thing is the artist's lifestyle, generally banal but attractive from the point of view. of the spectacle around capitalist values. It is also necessary to emphasize that the criterion for radical change in art is closely associated with the historical and social context of struggles between social classes and the acute crises of capitalism that push classes into decisive confrontations.

What is the nature of misery and how does it manifest itself?

In times of misery and acute crisis in bourgeois society, art is one of the few manifestations capable of denouncing capitalist barbarism, not only transgressing, but breaking with stereotypes, repetitions and limits of the sameness reiterated by the cultural industry and its decadent expressions. The contradictory relationship between art and capitalism, that is, between an expression that claims to be free from the limits imposed by the dominant class and the socioeconomic system of that class, forms the knot that often, or at least in the majority, forges what I called the cycle of rebels. This cycle repeats itself in almost all contemporary artistic expressions, annihilating such manifestations while giving rise to the purest slurry mistakenly called art, caricatured and clichéd productions, manifested by artists who are mostly unconcerned with more serious social issues.

By misery in the artistic world we can basically understand the limits that hinder and hinder the development of art to higher levels. These are factors such as neoliberal subjectivity, which transforms artists into competitors, instrumentalizing relationships into means to generally profit from productions already highly targeted by the demands of the cultural industry. Another element is undoubtedly the precarious training or low level of education (and the absence of critical theory) among musicians, actors, filmmakers, among others, which makes horizontal organization impossible among those who create a certain artistic expression, opening paths for values dominant. The lack of education is not only formal, but musical, theatrical, literary or technical training in the field of cinema or even training from a non-institutional critical point of view. This leads artists to become a kind of servants of capital in search of power and stardom, which most of the time is just an illusion fed by the spectacle. The absence of critical training and organization creates gaps that are often filled with the indiscriminate use of drugs, leading the artist to complete immobility from a professional and creative point of view. Chemical dependency or drug addiction is a very present element in the artistic world, being part of the number of issues that the artist is involved in.

Misery manifests itself through regression, whether of hearing or sight. In the musical world, regressiveness is compensated by the creation of almost always stereotypical characters who generally talk about their personal lives on a daily basis and when they are questioned about more serious subjects they tend to be eccentric and ambiguous as a way of touching on the topics covered, explaining the fragility of their thoughts. The image in this case is as important (perhaps more!) than the music produced. The public consumes a certain lifestyle, tastes, habits that are sold through spectacle, through the uninterrupted overexposure of a star's daily life. This spectacular everyday life has an essential fuel without which propaganda becomes impossible: controversies or bullshit surrounding banal subjects. When matters are serious, approaches are absolutely downgraded. By controversy, in this case, we mean personal fights over irrelevant issues. Music, therefore, is an accessory, like the golden chain or the private jet, women or drugs. The artist knows that to stay in the hype you have to be willing to play this game. By finding itself hostage to this logic, musical production gained new proportions and meanings.

Misery, therefore, is based on the following points:

  • Neoliberal subjectivity
  • Lack of education
  • Chemical dependence (drug addiction)
  • Lack of a collective organization of a revolutionary nature
  • Absence/lack of knowledge of a critical theory and revolutionary method
  • Hierarchy in relationships
  • Hearing regression / regressive productions
  • Egoism / competition / corporatism / immobility
  • Lack of material conditions

The importance of methodology in the artistic production process is vital. Art is a field that differs from science and other fields of human knowledge for particular reasons, but when it dispenses with a production method it also stops developing and improving its expressions, aesthetics and content. There is a huge problem in thinking about this in the artistic field due to a very abstract and subjective idea of ​​what constitutes art, and each person can, therefore, base and methodologize their productions or not. There is also a vague (depoliticizing) notion that cultures are spontaneous and should, therefore, be free from any methodological and theoretical constraints. Anti-methodology can even be seen as a merit when seeking a certain differentiation from other more rigid human expressions.

This, we can say, freer stage of the creative process is normal in the first discoveries. But it is during these processes that the producer begins to face his personal and intellectual limits. Some seek to solve this problem by educating themselves in new socialization; Others seek some type of systematic investigation of the problem, such as courses, classes and free training on the internet. The fact is that anti-methodology appears to be quite limited in the first processes of artistic production, leading the producer to seek some type of displacement. The complete denial of a theory and a production method leads producers, at some level, to stagnation and obvious immobility. This stance also functions as a front line that promotes constant clashes against the development of art. Would professionalism, therefore, be the culmination of this productive development? Not necessarily. The term professionalism is closely linked to a whole way of operating commercial relations and this does not mean development of art; on the contrary. This professionalism is also an obstacle. But there are some elements that can and should be highlighted as necessary for a production methodology, such as, for example, thinking of production as work in which there is a division of functions that do not necessarily need to be hierarchical, but that must obey a certain program. where the beginning, middle and end of production are thought of as well as the entire structure and production chain. The denial of a theory and a methodology is nothing more than the infantilized expression of artistic production, selfish and incapable of any substantial advancement.

The intense devaluation of the subjects they create is constitutive of this process, distinguishing one from the other in a hierarchical way, which ends up being naturalized due to a widespread acceptance of conservative values. In this movement of inversion of values, misery is seen as something brilliant and necessary (as a kind of success or virtue), given the lack of alternatives and commitment to a possible social emancipation of art. In this sense, success is linked to the inclusion of a specific artist in the cultural industry; as a consequence, misery is reflected in artistic creation, making it regressive and predictable, venal and superficial, adapted to the demands of the moment. The subjects, in turn, are asphyxiated in utilitarian relationships and are constantly discouraged from thinking critically, refraining from any commitment to any type of radical transformation of society and art itself. Thus, art becomes rickety, occupying mainly the role of entertainment as a way of supporting life in capitalism.

Relationships are utilitarian in the sense that they are only established through immediate rewards, exchanges between commodities, since the artist himself has become a commodity. These exchanges benefit those who have more status while also resulting in gains for those who are directly associated with that particular figure of prestige and power on the cultural scene. It is as if some hold keys that open doors in a certain field. These associations are above all political and exclude the majority, creating mythical and differentiated figures, artificially constructing a status quo in art. It's as if they were totems materializing the merchandise fetish. This selectivity factor is what determines who is authorized and who is not authorized to be seen, heard, read, etc. In this way, canons are consolidated while the basis of the commons forms an immense quagmire.

The misery of the artistic world is also a reflection of the social misery caused by a system of exploitation and competition between individuals and constant confrontation between the main social classes that make up this model of society: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. In capitalism, art has a specific function, namely, to reproduce the values ​​of the ruling class, while there is little space for authentic expressions, which are often vehemently opposed through direct criminalization.

The devaluation of art works as a driving force for maintaining the state of affairs of modern capitalist society, since art is not as important in the processes of sociability. Modernity, including its concept, was forged largely through the arts. Cinema is the modern art par excellence, technological, visual, alive and captivating. The devaluation of art also leads us to the devaluation of work, especially that carried out by the lower classes, as there are jobs that have prestige and others without any status. Many may remember journalist Boris Casoy's comment about the street cleaners wishing them a Merry Christmas: “what shit, two dustmen wishing you happiness from the top of their brooms. Two garbage men… the lowest on the job ladder.” Even though he is forced to recant, we know that this is exactly the thinking of the ruling class, its auxiliary classes and its organic intellectuals.

All of this is no different, then, from the world of art. This devaluation, for it to be effective, needs to be reproduced not only by the ruling class, since in this case, it concerns a very small portion of society. The dominant ideas of an era are the ideas of the ruling class of that particular era. Thus, most workers share an ideal that has historically massacred them. Even though there is suffering and resignation, opting for the dominant ideology produces a certain feeling of social inclusion at the same time that it significantly excludes the working population from active political life, delegating all types of responsibility to others, consolidating the bureaucracies that will massacre them. This social division of labor in art was correctly summarized by Caetano Veloso in his autobiography when he says that: “The clear division of musicians into classical and popular musicians removes from the latter the right (and obligation) to respond to serious cultural questions.”

Devaluation, therefore, is based on the social division of labor. Thus, a simple stage technician does not have the same value as the star performing on that same stage. Hierarchy is the basis that supports these differences and the maintenance of these differences means the exclusion of a large part of those who make up the cultural scene. Given that this is the structuring form of differences between the multiple producers of art, this becomes the hegemonic logic governing the relationships and conduct of people in general. Differences begin to be reproduced internally without necessarily being imposed externally, naturalizing relations of power and domination. The devaluation of art and independent producers is reproduced among independent artists themselves, creating clear distinctions. In this sense, there are artists who enjoy credibility while others humiliate themselves for recognition. Those who lack credibility are excluded internally, washing their hands of the ruling class.

Prestige and recognition in this case are forged from accumulations, such as social insertion, relationships, contacts and environments in which a given artist is inserted, profitability, appreciation of their image; In this way, the artist starts to think strategically about his relationships and associations, always with the aim of redoubling his influence. Thus, what has more prestige in the scene authorizes or not the recognition of the other, forming production chains of aesthetically and ideologically similar products.

The misery of the artistic world, as I mentioned previously, is also part of the social misery, which is visibly exclusionary. Social exclusion is a form of control and domination of a certain part of society. Exclusion does not exist for free. She occupies a certain function in a certain society. This exclusion is constitutive of the capitalist societal model. In other words, there is no capitalism without social exclusion. It is a fact that before the formation and establishment of capitalism, social exclusion already existed. It is with the advent of capitalism, however, that exclusion is, paradoxically, integrated into the way of life of modern societies, forming part of social relations of domination. The abolition of poverty is systematically proposed, without, however, overcoming this historic condition. On the contrary. The misery deepens. No government has or will solve the problem. Without the elimination of the State, it is impossible to definitively resolve this problem, which is glaring and only growing. If even with the high level of development of the productive forces there has been no change in the social condition of the vast majority of people, it is essential to seek an understanding of the real reasons that prevent even specific improvements and reforms that alleviate the condition of poverty from being made possible. of the workers.

Exclusion focuses solely and precisely on sectors of the working class, who, upon finding themselves deprived of everything, begin to parasitize, become ill, forming masses of delinquents detached from any commitment to themselves and society. Finally, the lumpenproletariat dies in the streets without being noticed. Because they are not integrated into market networks, self-employed or salaried work, they become a hindrance to the State, being abandoned and left to their own devices, leaving only repression as a form of control. Assistance to homeless people, for example, is provided by churches and some families with economic conditions. This initially has the function of moral relief from the weight that misery causes on consciences; but such actions have a much more political function than a moral one. Punctually feeding the zero masses is accompanied by political domination through religious and political ideologies that are almost always conservative, at the limit reactionary. These ideologies bring the encouragement and apathy of broader and transformative actions, projecting any type of radical emancipatory transformation in a metaphysical, impossible, unwanted and above all dangerous perspective. No wonder, before eating, homeless people are grateful for the food and the blessing of still being alive. We cannot take away the value of these actions, but it is also difficult to admit that this causes any type of change in the concrete lives of these people.

When they die, they give way to new zero masses capable of anything to maintain their own survival, addictions, etc. This completely avoidable situation is purposely preserved, being part of a society project. Any rebellious movement is immediately and violently repressed by the repressive forces of the State. Even though all forces are used to justify and criminalize poverty, it continues to grow, with peaks occurring in periods of severe capital crisis. In these moments of crisis, there is no type of response (other than repression) to eliminate poverty. Efforts are aimed at maintaining capital, shielding the ruling classes from any responsibility, depoliticizing and summarizing these moments as chaos and other vague adjectives.

Specifically on this point, bourgeois media exercise enormous power. They are the hegemonic voices that build scarecrows, repeating impactful maxims over and over again, taking away the focus, preventing the resolution of the problem and popular organization. As an example, we can cite the role of the hegemonic media in the June Days. The narrative was very aggressive against popular demonstrations, which caused rejection of these media among the protesters. This led Globo to hire unknown and uncharacterized people to record the events. When these were also discovered, the strategy became to film from above. The misery of the artistic environment, therefore, is part of a broader social problem, as it is reproduced within it through intense disputes over very particular interests, making relationships and bonds fragile and unstable.

The general context and impacts on the artistic and cultural environment

The capitalist world in general has always been dark and conflictive. Since the Bourgeois Revolutions in England, Germany and France, when the aim was to universalize basic rights and a form of egalitarian sociability, what has been recorded is precisely the opposite: endless wars, catastrophes and all kinds of burdens generated by greed, which seems to have become widespread as a true modus operandi of individuals and social classes. In the contemporary world, neoliberalism took its most complete and brutal form against poorer populations, while on the other hand it privileged exorbitant accumulation among the bourgeoisie and its auxiliary classes, depriving others of basic rights. It is clear that some type of dampening of these contradictions was possible, given the need for capital to reproduce itself; after all, labor is needed to move commercial relations. Consumption is necessary and for this some level of social cohesion is necessary, even if this cohesion is based on systematic violence and economic deprivation, generating intense austerity against subordinated sectors.

Thinking about broad social issues has its difficulties due to the multiple processes that define a given society, culture, customs and economy. Without a theory and an appropriate method, we cannot produce a critical reading of our time or the past. No wonder, Marx places historical knowledge as the most important knowledge for us to produce a correct, coherent reading of the world, if we actually want to transform concrete material reality. The present is busy and only the most skillful hands can weave some kind of influence. This ability is to some extent related to the historical past. In fact, almost nothing that develops in the present is disconnected from the past. Eyes that only look forward act to disrupt this relationship between present, past and future. Temporalities, therefore, develop from a dialectical relationship between these different times: past, present and future.

References produced in the past are never completely left behind, despite the selfish wishes of individuals. Therefore, we are always corroborating or refuting something. This does not mean, at all, that there is no space for the new, for the unprecedented. Despite being in modernity where we can most identify the permanence of the old (mainly forms of domination), the denial of rupture, the fear of what is not yet known, it is sold as progress, but without producing the overcoming of the contradictions of the past. . This paradox is actually part of the very conception and nature of modernity, which is based on maintaining domination as an indispensable element for the functioning of capitalist sociability.

As much as the speeches are rambling and often even seductive, in practice there is little space for ideas that contradict the established status quo, and this is no different in the field of art; and as much as modernity has meant the advent of the new, in order to have access to it, selectivity based on the social status of certain sectors is necessary. Here is yet another facet of the paradox of modernity. While it produced wealth, misery increased enormously. Modernity, therefore, is configured as the highest degree of development of capital, its productive forces, its ethos around the commodity fetish. Therefore, the rupture seems to be something of the order of the unthinkable, sounding like a disregard for the most genuine values ​​of humanity. In this way, the fight against capital becomes something anachronistic, avoidable, incongruous, always requiring some mechanism that represents the brake on popular revolts.

This ideological knot is not fully accessible in order to fully understand this social and historical phenomenon. This knot is immersed in the slurry of the bourgeois conception of society, hegemonized by the dominant class and its auxiliary classes, but maintained, above all, by the workers themselves, who in the historical moment show themselves incapable of situating themselves in the social field in any other way than by through eternal submission. But to be dominated you need some currency. In this case, there is a direct domination and a subtle and even desired domination. Domination in this case is directly linked to an idea of ​​stability, whether economic, political or personal. The domination of capital, therefore, became more complex. At the same time that it manifests itself explicitly in its multiple forms of violence, it is also full of symbolism. In this case, interpersonal relationships are always on the verge of manifesting themselves through these precepts, even if appearances say otherwise. 

Within this endless broth of oppression, it was up to art (historically) to oppose and elucidate new ways of thinking, feeling and producing expressions that aimed for freedom, even though they often hovered in the field of ideas and representations. We can list here countless examples of productions and artists committed to human emancipation today and yesterday, even if they are not completely free from contradictions. In cinema, for example, there are countless filmmakers who seek representation based on social struggles from a non-conciliatory critical perspective. Patrick Granja's cinema, for example, is just one example in this case.

Even though the death of art has already been decreed by authors such as Guy Debord and reiterated by others such as Anselm Jappe, there are different forms of resistance being undertaken, albeit contradictorily (which could not be different given the difficult socio-historical context in force). . But inevitably they all end up being impacted by the force of capital, by utilitarian and instrumentalized mercantile relations. The result is mutations or the simple perishing of such expressions, emptying and creative misery.

By misery we can define everything that was demoted, subtracted, plundered due to a demand external to the subject or creating class. This relationship is complex and we cannot analyze it in its details by merely holding individuals responsible, as if such a choice were conscious and determined by the narcissistic wills of the artists. Artistic creation and producers are in one way or another subject to a social and historical context capable of decisively interfering with what is created, for example authorizing or not authorizing the reverberation of a given artistic creation. Capitalism produces selectivity, of what is authorized and unauthorized. There are classic examples of authors who did not receive recognition for their works, such as Kafka or Brazilian composers such as Itamar Assumpção and Sérgio Sampaio, Lula Côrtes, among others.

This places resistance art in a kind of limbo at first, and this condition can be modified depending on the social context and the needs of that context combined with the desires, needs and mobilization of those who create a certain artistic expression. These were and will always be fought within the capitalist logic of production. We cannot lose sight of the fact that it is capitalist society that obliterates the richest artistic expressions. This obtuse and incisive pressure also provokes a particular understanding of what constitutes art in contemporary times. A detached understanding of the historicity of artistic movements in general. Social recognition consequently also changed, placing new criteria so that such expressions could be consumed. This happens especially with the advent of the cultural industry, which is forging itself as a specific sector to deal with artistic production, massifying its expressions to the point of also contributing to this asphyxiating perishing and walling.

The fact is that the question about the social function of art had been suppressed to the detriment of an anomaly that is still categorized as art. Art is such a broad concept that its social historical meaning is almost lost, erasing not only the struggles, but the decisive contributions and improvements in this field. In one way or another, artistic productions continue to gain space and influence in societies, especially those that are in a continuous process of emergence as a result of the contradictions generated by the capitalist system. There is an increasingly immediate contact with the demands of the cultural industry, which often influences such creations from its inception. Art is appropriated by nation-states, companies and large conglomerates, political parties from both spectrums, independent sectors, individuals, groups, etc. In this case, art, or the arts, inevitably poses as some type of vision on the issues of the present, pointing to certain solutions (the most varied possible) with some level of criticality. That is why there is a lot of resistance, but few revolutionary expressions and productions, even though, paradoxically, the arts are permeated by the contradictory socio-political context of bourgeois society. The misery of the artistic world lies precisely in peremptorily submitting to the designs of capital. Take the case of music as an example.

Music, like any artistic production, is the result of the socio-historical context of its time. Not only men, but also art is a child of its time. Therefore, such expressions reverberate common issues of a certain social context, territory and social class that produces it. It is clear that these artistic productions are also directly influenced by the most diverse subjective issues, and there is also an element of unpredictability in music. Even though Western music is organized in a certain way, in a functional harmonic field, scales and intervals, such organization does not limit creation. On the contrary. From time to time, music transforms, as a result of the means of production and the social forces involved in this production using the musical structure to their advantage, making it infinitely rich and variable.

Talking about music as a comprehensive category is complicated. Music is divided into styles, eras, instruments used, aesthetic, harmonic and percussive proposal, poetic proposal, political and ideological orientation, etc. There is pop music, rap, rock, punk, country music and mpb. We can say that punk survives in the sewers, largely due to its intense appropriation by the cultural industry, which has massified certain icons, depoliticizing its relationship with the social field from which intense protests arise against the arbitrariness of capital and mainly against the bourgeois State. In Brazil, although there has been an intense profusion of bands and cultural movements, very little has spread in terms of continuation of a direct, counter-hegemonic and radical musical proposal in the musical and poetic aesthetic sense. Punk survives in small, sporadic circuits, without much reverberation. It survives in memory, preserving some characteristics in other styles that appropriated its assets. Bands such as Garotos Podres, Restos de Nada, Cólera, Olho Seco, Inocentes, Ratos de Porão, Replicantes, Plebe Rude, Gritando HC, Camisa de Vênus, among others, marked the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, while the years 2000 would be marked by other aspects largely due to its relationship with electronic sound, also a result of the advancement of technology, which began to penetrate society more deeply. The 1990s already began to have a strong presence of electronic sounds, drums and sinths that produced hits, later massified in substyles such as dance, trance, among others.

“You are a byproduct of a violent society, of a society that oppresses you, that takes away everything you could be entitled to. So you can't be a very beautiful thing. Punk is a perverse mirror of that.” Zorro M-19 – The origin of Punk in Brazil is highlighted. Directed by Gastão Moreira

“Punk didn’t just come as a way of protesting against a system, but a protest against music as well. To change, because after punk rock music changed completely.” Pierre – Cholera

These statements, present in the documentary Botinada: the origin of Punk in Brazil (2006) could be from rappers who were beginning to emerge at the same time as punk, but still quite incipient and in another social reality. Within what would be Hip Hop culture, the racial issue is central, with the denunciation of the arbitrariness of the police, the racism that permeates everything and the growing marginalization of peripheral populations being present in their narratives. The export of these styles, both punk and rap, is the result of commercial exchange, which is not limited to physical goods. Culture in capitalism is an important means of propagating the modus vivendi of this historic socio-metabolic system. As a social relationship, capitalism depends on means to propagate its ideals and values. In this way, the industry even appropriates (or why not, especially these!) artistic styles and expressions with a strong contestatory appeal already rooted in a certain social segment through their reproduction, circulation and social adherence. Perhaps the strong presence of reggae opened some paths for rap to gradually become stronger and stronger. The strong organizational and productive capacity of rappers also boosted this export. With the local industry already on the rise, there was significant demand in other countries that notably reflected North American rap, even though its origins were primarily in Jamaica in the 1960s.

With punk already in deep decline, rap emerges as one of the representatives of peripheral black people desirous of social change without falling into the sterility of aspects without social commitment like several styles already swallowed by the cultural industry at that time. No wonder, the main phrase of rap in Brazil is: rap is commitment, not a trip, from Sabotage. The foundations, therefore, are initially laid in the social commitment of firstly denouncing arbitrariness, committing to the developments of this movement of youth affirmation and popular mobilization. Secondly, the street is the stage for these struggles, since it is on the streets that daily oppression takes place against young black and poor people, as well as poor white people, women, homosexuals and other subordinated sectors.

In the 1990s, rap began to gain strength with Racionais MC's in São Paulo, while in Rio de Janeiro, Planet Hemp appeared in 1993, with Marcelo D2, Skunk, Rafael Crespo, BNegão, Formigão and Bacalhau, who brought rap with the aggressive look of rock, punk and hardcore. It was also in 1993 that the duo Black Alien and Speed ​​emerged and subsequently became a strong reference for rap on a national level. In the 2000s, important names such as Marechal and the group Quinto Andar, Inumanos, Gabriel o Pensador, Xis, Kamau, Emicida, Criolo, De Leve emerged. In the 2010s onwards, rap went through intense mutations, preserving the minimum that characterized it, becoming a machine of desire for consumption and capital values, with the best-known names being the main references in this type of neoliberal perspective, as is the emblematic case of Marcelo D2 who became a kind of walking caricature of a certain highly salable Rio ethos. His son Stephan Peixoto, known as Sain, is a kind of synthesis of the degradation of rap music. In the game of capital, almost no renowned artist was left out. Mano Brown, for example, became a poster boy for mega companies like Ray-Ban and in the political game he established contact with reactionary figures like Fernando Holliday, seeking understanding between the different liberal strands: fascism and a certain senile neo-reformism. This repetitive process is what we can call the rebel cycle. A process that is already quite common in the industry, to the point of transforming music into a kind of casing with grafts containing everything that is not typical of that body. This complex plot was only possible thanks to the direct participation of hip hop culture agents themselves.

It is complex to analyze music in its entirety; but we know that certain characteristics and processes are common to all styles, just as other points are also noted in different fields such as literature, theater, cinema and the visual arts. In Rio de Janeiro and other cities, there is a strong Brazilian music scene, a new MPB scene if we can classify it that way. Artists such as Julia Vargas, Chico Chico, João Mantuano, Posada, Ivo Vargas, Liniker, Juliana Linhares, Duda Brack, André Prando, Rubinho Jacobina, Fino Coletivo, Seu Pereira, among others. Much of this scene was forged on the basis of classic mpb, which has as its reference names such as Chico Buarque, Ney Matogrosso, Milton Nascimento, Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, who form a kind of status quo in Brazilian music, names that became sanctified over the course of the time. The new mpb, however, continued to ostracize a fundamental basis of Brazilian musical aesthetics such as Sergio Sampaio, Itamar Assumpção, Arrigo Barnabé, Naná Vasconcelos, Walter Franco, Ave Sangria, names not much considered by the cultural industry. In this sense, the new mpb is a kind of bastard child of a music already widely exploited by capital, forging eccentric characters ready to be sold.

In the field of art, it is generally about self-employment without any employment relationship. On the contrary. The artist, especially the beginner, often sells his labor force in other low-paying activities so that he can then dedicate himself to some process of artistic creation. Therefore, he is doubly involved in production/exploitation, seeking to create a counterpoint between an alienating activity and an uplifting one, even if the latter presents particular difficulties. This contradictory relationship becomes heavy over time, leading the artist or producer to make decisions about the commitment of their strengths and the paths to follow. If this subject comes from a more impoverished class, if he has children, a wife or has to contribute to the maintenance of the family nucleus in some way, generally what happens is a decrease in commitment to artistic activities and his consequent impoverishment. Sometimes this can even represent your complete disappearance, contributing to a kind of deep disconnection with an important part of who you are.

In addition to the individual field, this also represents the impoverishment of art itself, of cinema, theater, literature, plastic arts, performing arts, music and arts production in general. This is a broad movement that generates profound social impact, as counterpoints are no longer created in relation to biased productions by the cultural industry. There is, however, a mechanism for using a residual portion of these artistic productions (and consequently their producers) so that the fetishistic relationship with art remains active. This residual body is what will subsequently form the catalog of the cultural industry. In other words, within this general framework of permanent exclusion of a significant portion of producers, there are those who are included in the logic of mass production of the cultural industry, constructing specific determinations about the values, aesthetics, contents and orientations of these works.

The exclusionary logic of work, therefore, has a specific function in class society, which basically boils down to the profitability of certain works, with the artist or the producer never being the true subject of this process. The artist enters as a subjected subject, driving the fetishistic logic of the commodity. He legitimizes the process by excluding capital and himself from responsibility, even though his art is a product of his own estrangement. This evil quirk is constructed as a way of obfuscating the true nature of the contradiction, since there is, at the same time, the participation of several forces, agents and social subjects in this complicated process. The fact is that in the case of the producer, he is already a hostage and capable of this process from the beginning, since his material conditions are generally precarious and he is excluded from working relationships with any type of guarantee.

“The cultural industry is a kind of mediating instance that itself begins to determine the form and reception of works of art, annihilating the moment of contemplation that is constructed precisely from the tension between subject and object.” Bruna Della Torre

The dialectic of domination is also what points to overcoming this social relationship. What can be seen is that the gold mine of the cultural industry is precisely in the poverty of the base where the most varied artistic expressions are generated. Given that such logic has permeated, especially this sector (the bases), the knot of the dominant ideology becomes even more difficult to untie; in such a way that the process of emancipation of art becomes the process of emancipation of society itself, more specifically of workers in struggle against capital and its structure of domination, the bourgeois State.

The cycle of domination is also the cycle of use and discard of these artistic expressions. All the poetic and aesthetic richness produced comes from independent music, for example. Going from Rock to Soul, Jazz and Rap, what we have is a great variety of sounds, increasingly complex and innovative (at a certain point sometimes also regressive). Before social recognition, there is conservatism denying, delegitimizing and analyzing in a prejudiced way what emerges. It was like that with punk and rap, with jazz, samba. These expressions arise from a social need, from the social contradiction of a certain time, taken over by dissatisfied groups who almost always fight other musical styles that they consider to be the status quo of music. Punk, for example, mocked Bossa Nova. This confrontation in the cultural field is a reflection of class struggles, causing a new musical concept to emerge, forcing the decline of the other. In a second moment, conservatism opens its guards as an implicit mechanism of self-maintenance, to the point of no longer being as bothersome as before, opening up areas even for dialogue.

Rappers and punks then start to play to increasingly larger audiences, international audiences; they perform at major festivals with big names in national and world music, participate in TV programs (the most unlikely possible), advertise for any type of merchandise, of course, becoming a kind of opinion former, in which they give their opinion about everything at all times indiscriminately, from personal to political and economic matters. It is in this mirroring with the society of the spectacle that the indefinite cycle is generated in which the rebels lead sound and aesthetic innovation and, in a second moment, their own disgrace. Social recognition in capitalist societies is not linked in this case to the music or the important contributions of a specific band or composer, but to the fetishistic mystique built around these subjects. The conversion of values ​​is also imposed on recognition; Even those who reach the top do so by merit, corroborating the meritocratic perspective. But the bridge between culture and capital is paradoxically built by artists, musicians, filmmakers, etc. themselves. The foundations of this bridge are based on the absence of perspectives capable, firstly, of producing a diagnosis consistent with social and historical issues, while they are cemented by the dominant ideology itself.

*Arthur Moura is a filmmaker and a doctoral student in Social History at the Faculty of Teacher Training at UERJ.


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