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Creative Contributions to Society

The morning after the Oscars C-SPAN Washington Journal asked callers/commenters, “What is Hollywood’s influence on politics?”

Now I’m not going to dive into politics in this post. The call-ins raised a whole other issue for me more important than political/issue statements made during acceptance speeches. But an enthusiastic caller denounced the actions of Oscar recipients stating they “…don’t make anything that contributes to society, unlike [somebody like] an autoworker [for example].”

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this sentiment, or a derivative thereof, towards the creative arts. The notion of the arts being worthless or a waste of time even penetrates art itself. It’s a thing. My wife and I watched The Accountant in which Anna Kendrick’s character laments to Ben Affleck’s autistic assassin that her father demanded she get a “real job” and go into accounting instead of pursue her passion for art.

I can remember sophomore year of high school filling out PSAT/SAT forms and checking Art as a possible major. After the first couple rounds of university information packets came to the house, I was recommended that I change to Business Administration. “It would be better for me in the long run.”

Was it? Is that something measurable? I’m not so sure. While I am glad my vanilla B.A. degree helped me get a job after college, my passion for art and creativity never went away. I wandered in and out of various industries before my artistic desires drove me beyond the world of spreadsheets and file folders and into a years long career transition. 

Those desires drive me right now to further develop my side projects and deliver tangible products into this world which will last beyond me. 

My main point is that the arts create a spark in the mind and a fire in your soul. They help push folks past the common methodology of thinking and see what is possible versus what is. It is not a waste of time to create. 

The attitude that you’re not adding anything to society with your art is a negligent dismissal of the qualitative impact the arts have on the mind and thought. 

Do not degrade the arts because you think they have no value to society. Keep in mind that whatever device you are reading this through, was developed by someone creative and beneficial to society.