Art Exorcsim, or: How I learned to stop worshipping celebrity and start loving the art


This post by Craig Snider

I have blogged before about Author (Artist) Intent versus Reader (Audience) Response. I won’t rehash that here, but it does lead me into another aspect of that argument, the nature and responsibility of the artist.

We live in a culture obsessed with celebrity. In a world of talking heads, celebrities float among them, dishing out supposed words of wisdom and beatitudes. Why do we listen to them?

Perhaps we have begun to elevate the artists above the art. I’m as guilty as the rest, if not more so. I’m the first to jump on Wikipedia and explore the past, present, and current love life of any actor, director, writer, musician, or other such interesting persona, especially the crazy ones (lookin’ squarely at you Cruise and Lebouf). I have this overpowering need to know more about the person responsible for creating something I love so much. This is also why we have book series that span into the double digits (a huge pet peeve of mine). We just can’t seem to get enough, so we latch onto the artist themselves, both in the hopes of continuing our high and getting another fix, and also because we possibly want to glean the methodology for their creative process.

OMG, is that Carrot Top??

I refuse to partake any longer. I’ve seen people I know pimp their art and themselves in an attempt to garner more public affection, to increase the number of Likes and Followers, to see their inboxes light up with the recognition and justification of their work. And, it sickens me. Mostly because I know I wouldn’t be far behind. But, I’m taking a stand. I will not be a part of it.

When I become famous, I shall not do a single interview that does not work to promote something other than my art for the sake of empty commercialism. When I am lauded as the century’s greatest living author, I will refuse to put my picture on the jacket cover, not for fear of people seeing it and wondering if perhaps author stereotypes are true, but because I don’t want that to be a part of my book. When my book sells for six figures, and I can buy a football team, I will do so under a pseudonym, because I don’t want the art to be about me.

Sure, on some level, art is always about the artist trying to express something, trying to divine the nature of the universe and the forever cliched “Human Experience,” but that doesn’t mean we have to go around parading it in front of everyone, does it? Does being a successful artist demand that we become fodder for the public? Does it mean we have to not only sell our work, but ourselves?

If that is the case, perhaps now I understand why someone would write a masterpiece, then leave it in a desk, in a garage, at an abandoned house, never to be read by the all powerful public eye.

…and lo and behold, he said let there be conflict and resolution, and there was. And, it was–good enough to sell a million copies or so, and be turned into a half-assed movie that only keeps about 10% of the story intact.

To me, art is the important thing. Not the artist. Yes, I love interviews with my favorite artists, but that should be the extent of it. We deify their gifts without ever realizing some of it comes by accident, without invocation, and often without control. Anyone who must tell you of their genius is neither a genius nor an artist, despite the quality of their work.

To this end, it is my life goal to separate art from artist, to excise and exorcise the stain of the creator from the creation. Let us abound instead in the endless worlds that exist, rather than raising up he or she who conjured them from the aether of our collective experiences. Let us view art in a vacuum, allowing the work itself, and all the clues contained within to speak their truths to us from across the void. For, in that moment, as we listen with strained ears, we, the small mortal audience, will be able to hear a choir of angels singing the truth of art to us.

Well, at least until the next Christopher Nolan movie comes out, then I’m totally going to Google the hell out of that sh*t….


17 thoughts on “Art Exorcsim, or: How I learned to stop worshipping celebrity and start loving the art

    1. Exactly right Mike. He was a celebrity long before deciding to run for president, and is now using that public cache to storm the polls, regardless of whether or not he is good for the position.

      It was also interesting to see how Obama took advantage of social media and television to become a celebrity among young people. He is a “hip” president who makes his presence known to those who follow those avenues of entertainment. Very smart.

      We are coming into a new age with the constant exposure to news and information, and the rise of the new generation’s reliance on these methods of communication. The world she is a changin’.

      Thanks Mike!


  1. Ah Craig, thank you. I do not like having my photo out where people can gawk at it. I do prefer my work speak for me, not the other way around. But, I do understand creating a readership initially, but then…you get the picture.

    Now for me, it will be the next Robert Downey Jr. movie. Don’t need to know more about him, other than his work is amazing.

    Here’s to your great novel, may it sell in the millions, and enjoy the next Christopher Nolan movie. (Smile) Doris


    1. Thanks Doris!

      Yeah, I get that modern authors have to pimp their books if they want to succeed, but I just honestly want no part of it. Which means I’ll be content just tapping away at my keyboard in my free time while selling my body on the streets to pay the man. Ah, the life of a writer…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can be compared to a camel with my head in the sand during the last couple of decades because I’ve purposely not followed the line of seeking out every bit of knowledge of the artist who has gained notoriety. The downside of that is that my daughter might refer to some famous singer and I’m answering ” Who? I don’t think I know that one.” 😉 I understand the need for my author photo to be available and some of what drives my life but I also like to have some parts very private because ‘Googling’ these days can be so incredibly revealing. I love the very last line of this post! Habits can be broken–given time. 🙂


    1. Nancy, I don’t blame you one bit. It is a huge distraction in the long run. But, it is hard to fight the tide.

      And, yes, Googling is very revealing. I Google myself all the time–with the door closed–when no one is home… But, it also comes up with, “No results found.” Hmmm. Even Google doesn’t like me. C’est la vie.


  3. Sometimes I hate to know about an artist whose I admire only to find out they have an abusive, racist or other messed up side about them. As a writer I sometimes like to know the process of writer, journey they took to publication, and the upbringing and life they have/had. I’m not sure if it is emulate or just know there are multiple paths to a goal. In today’s celebrity culture, stats are photographed going to the store and any and every comment made is broadcast to the world. That is minutiae I don’t care for.


  4. You make a good point, one that is hard to refute. The public will always want to know the artist if possible, because relationship is what life’s about. But how great when the art can stand alone and not be diminished by the vagaries of the artist.


  5. Funny, I’ve never thought of myself as an artist. A craftsman, maybe. I don’t consider what I write literature, though I’d like to think it has some literary elements in it, so I guess I never thought of it as art.


  6. I don’t mind having my photo on the back cover of my books, but not necessarily for vanity’s sake, but for the continued idea of promoting the wonder of dogs and dog adoption (my photo always has one or both of my dogs). I don’t know if people actually make that connection, but hopefully so. Interesting thoughts and ideas, Craig — thanks for sharing!


  7. Great post, Craig. Solid points presented in an amusing way. I’m with you on the whole celebrity thing. And I hate the idea of having to “brand” myself to sell. So I will keep working at my job–which I actually love–for a living and do my writing on the side, so It also remains something I love


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