Friday, October 09, 2009

Showing His Bias?

My newspaper carries Kevin McDonough's "Tune In Tonight" under the TV listings. It's a synopsis of what to watch and what might be a waste of your time that particular evening. I scan it to make sure I haven't overlooked a show I'd like to see.

Wednesday my local PBS station was airing back to back episodes of "Craft in America" and "Art in the 21st Century." Oh, double good, and I was looking forward to comparing how "craft" and "art" would be handled. I didn't need to read the longer-than-usual blurb to entice me to tune in, but I scanned it anyway.

I was a bit surprised by what I found.: 2 paragraphs devoted to "Craft in America" and the final paragraph a snub of "Art:21." "The artisans on 'Craft' tend to speak in a language as straightforward as their work and avoid the kind of academic jargon heard with unwelcome frequency on "Art in the 21st Century,' a survey of the contemporary scene." (Follow this link and scroll down to read the paragraphs praising "Craft")

So I watched these two programs with this jarring criticism in mind. "Art:21" was first and I made it through the whole thing without noticing any academic jargon. Mmmm, is it possible that I've immersed myself in the art world to the point that I don't even notice art speak when I hear it? Or was Mr.
McDonough referring to the entire series as a whole?

Two episodes of "Craft" aired that night, "Origins" being the one highlighted in the review. The background music was nothing but folk, the kind of thing that conjures up the Appalachian Mountains. Most of the craftspeople highlighted spoke in a folksy, almost hillbilly southern drawl. I began to think Mr. McDonough had been charmed by the seemingly down to earth people interviewed, backed up by that music. I truly could not hear any difference in the actual words and concepts used by the "artists" vs "craftsmen" to express their art, inspiration and process.

I'm guessing Mr. McDonough did not watch the second "Craft" episode, "Process." It did not feature plain country folk, and these artists (yes, they even referred to themselves as artists) dropped more jargon than the artists featured in the "Art:21" episode. At least, that's what my finely tuned antennae picked up. Was his review showing a personal bias, or am I showing mine? If you saw either of these programs (they can also be viewed online), I'd love to hear your impressions.

1 comment:

June said...

I loved Art:21 and like you,never noticed any jargon. Somebody has a bias for folksy accents -- could be that someone is from New York or Washington DC or Hollywood? Hmmm, a bit patronizing, methinks.