The Love Of Money

The quote is usually mis-quoted as “Money is the root of all evil”. The actual quote is “The love of money is the root of all evil”. (Timothy 6:10)

The love of money is greed. It has always been around but is rampant in our society at the moment and we are all paying a heavy price. The world in which I lived in the USA as a child in the 1950s is gone. In its place super wealthy corporations and the people who own them buy and sell our government as they please. Fear rules the day alongside greed. Many suffer and the wealthy want them to “eat cake”.

How does this impact singing? You have to dig a bit to figure it out.

If the driving force of everyday life is not to “make a profit” or “make a decent living” but to amass vast unlimited fortunes and live decadently in palaces, and if this “lifestyle” is to be adored by those who can never ever achieve even the smallest amount of financial abundance, then the values that accompany such ideas are also being sold and accepted to the public. If you own a TV station or a media company, and your market research tells you that the people who spend the most money are young men, and you also know that young men like sex and violence, then you will create programs or films that feature sex and violence (sometimes very extreme sex and violence) to make money. You will not worry about what message that sends out to the world, or the effect that message has on anyone, because your goal is to make the most money possible. If you own a TV show, and you can get more viewers by having people behave in disgusting ways (and this is rampant), and by having more viewers you can charge more for advertising, and in that way make more profits for your corporation (or its big wigs), then you do that. If anyone questions you, claim “censorship” and “prudishness” and “suppression of artistic creativity”.

Most of the media conglomerates are owned (if you dig to the bottom of their heap) by about 10 people globally. Rupert Murdoch, as an example, owns TV stations, radio stations and newspapers all over the world. He’s not alone. No matter how much money a corporation makes, or how much it pays to its stock holders or CEO’s, there is always more money to be made in the race to see who has the biggest pot of gold. You must appeal to the lowest common denominator because the money is made selling to mass markets and mass markets are drawn by the lowest common denominator of what we have available in our society. Sex, violence, conflict, and negative emotional intensity (fear and anger).

Recently, Lady Gaga included having someone come up during a performance and vomit on her. She did this, why? Perhaps it was to attract attention, to keep herself relevant, to be in the public eye, to buoy her reputation for being “shocking”, “strange”, “different”, or to seem “bold”? I have no idea. She may have done it for any reason but in the end fame produces wealth and wealth (in our society) produces power and power gives you freedom and you don’t have to answer for your behavior to anyone. That has been true for quite some time but it’s escalated to ridiculous proportions at this time.

So, I have this to say: Lady Gaga, you are talented. You do not need to stoop to such a vulgar, low and depraved state as having someone vomit on you as a “performance”, just to prove something. It does not make you seem “creative” or “amazing” or “different”, it makes you seem crass, tasteless, obnoxious and just plain stupid. It may be legal to behave this way, but why would you want to? If being famous instead of being talented is more important to you, please ask yourself why.

And to everyone else who thinks that “freedom of expression” as covered by the first amendment means that you can do anything and get away with anything by hiding behind “artistic license”, think again. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. In fact, in many cases, it means that you shouldn’t. Intelligence needs to meet art as a partner, not be buried in a plastic can. (see previous post)

Success can be a great thing and certainly wealth can also be a great thing but when wealth and success become a drug and people lose their way chasing those twin demons, no one is better off. Surely those who were at Lady Gaga’s performance will always remember it. The question is, do they  really want to carry that memory around with them for decades? Life is too short to waste it on such garbage! People, walk away!

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5 thoughts on “The Love Of Money”

  1. Very astute, Jeanie; what you say is right on the money (excuse the choice of words!) I was out of the country for most of the 1980s, and when I returned in 1988, experienced a sort of culture shock. The United States that I had known was, as you said, gone. The differences, even from the 1970’s, were glaring. Unfortunately, too many people seem to be blind to what is happening.

  2. Great post, as always, Jeanie.
    This reminds me of a blog entry of mine where I wrote about the flaws in the American Business Model. The only way (bottom line) for a business to be considered successful today is to have a higher profit this quarter than they did last year. What’s wrong with just making enough to pay all of your bills and employees, and keep a modest profit for yourself, the owner? Is there no end to this? How is any company supposed to be able to continue to grow indefinitely? That’s just not feasible. Yet, they try. Corporations like Wal-Mart and McDonald’s are now offering advice to their employees on how to make ends meet. Why don’t they just give them a small raise? A good friend of mine is in what I guess I would call “medium to upper” management for Wal-Mart. He oversees a few different stores. I believe his salary is greater than $250k. Is that fair, when 90% of the employees make under $10/hour?

  3. Thank you so much for your thoughts,expressed so clearly and helpfully. Indeed, we are surrounded by disgusting behavior and have been for a long time. I am at a loss to understand why, for example, in a feature film released to international audiences and which won a great deal of praise from the film industry, there are cameras pointed up the naked rear ends of some of the female actors. I fail to understand why any of the actors in the film participate; money and recognition are not good enough reasons. The story of the film I have in mind is that of a degenerate individual who tries to accomplish something good. Is it necessary for the sake of art to subject an actual actor to actual degradation and actual audiences to actual violation (by that I mean forced exposure to frank sexual images – we get no choice until it is too late) simply to draw a convincing picture of a degenerate? The answer is negative. We do not need to see the actual murder of an actual actor in a story that includes a murder in order to be convinced. The greedy misuse of the power of entertainment by the super wealthy is inexcusable. The misguided collusion by the actors themselves in the purveyance of disgusting material is inexcusable. The blurring of the lines about pornography and cruelty is deeply damaging to everyone collectively. The willingness of audiences to keep watching and keep buying tickets, somehow believing our minds and behavior are not being collectively affected, is deeply disappointing. We do need to walk away. I walk away and I encourage the young people in my studio to do the same. I help them to be discerning about the songs they want to learn and the celebrities they want to emulate. I hope I am helping them to become thoughtful about what makes for a worthy artistic expression.

    1. I stopped going to popular movies in 1968. I attended “The Devil’s Brigade” the day Bobby Kennedy was shot. I watched the blood and guts spewing on the screen and I got up and walked out. I have not seen a war movie, in a theater or at home, since that time. I did not want to add my own consciousness to stories about war, particularly ones which were made for “entertainment purposes”. Similarly, I have had to turn off mainstream prime time TV recently because the level of graphic violence was sickening. Particularly the stories about serial killers torturing women (like the recent shows on SVU featuring Mariska Hargitay) are insulting. This is done for all the wrong reasons and it has nothing to do with first amendment rights or liking censorship. A civilized society does not tolerate things that we have become inured to on a daily basis. Your students are lucky to have a wise teacher who helps them learn discrimination and taste — two things our current society sadly lacks. Thanks for your comment.

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