If John Lennon was a singer on a reality TV show today, what would the judges say about his music? This question was explored in a recently viewed YouTube video. The video intercut scenes of John Lennon singing with snippets of footage from a popular reality show. It was put together in such a way to make it look like John and the judges were having a conversation during a critique of his performance. John was criticized about pitch, rhythm and melody. The video ended with John saying, “I’m just beginning” and one of the judges repeating that statement in a mocking tone of voice.
This satirical video seems to ask the question, “Who decides if something is of value and considered art?" One can reduce art to judgments based on criteria. We know that some of this criteria is influenced by the culture of the time. We see this when artists never find acceptance of their work during their lifetime, but are later held in high esteem after their deaths. It’s very likely that John Lennon would be received differently if he appeared today instead of the 1960s. And of course, the music itself wouldn't be the same.
People will always judge what they like or do not like about art. But that doesn’t mean we need to impose a label of “good” and “bad” that ghettoizes everything that’s ever been created. With so much fakery that’s in our culture today, we need less superficial criteria based judgments and more authentic based responses. Why does something make me feel the way I do? How does my life experience influence my thinking about it? Can I channel my own inner artist by simply keeping it real? These questions are more meaningful ways of looking at art.