By Margretta Sowah
“To be commercial or to be creative? Why cant it be both?.”
They say too much of a good thing is bad for you. Creativity, like a bashful lover, is an elusive force – she creeps in the night and leaves in the morning. The world is full of drama and intrigue; things are happening every day. After discussing the power of consumerism, as most do, right? with a friend we came to the conclusion that creativity and commercialism are no longer seen in the same vein. Once upon a time the art of making money was looked upon as a creative achievement – and it is, in a secular sort of way – but now, with the rise of smart technology and customisation, it is not enough to be profit driven or too idealistic. With the right balance brands (and people) can utilise the power of commerce and capitalism. There is no shame in being creative and commercial. To put it in a different way; you can’t have your cake and eat it too but you can sure as hell lick the spoon…
‘Brash cash’ and all that
I don’t think I know anyone who would describe Kim Kardasian as a ‘creative’ person. Business savvy with a hell of a lot of social prowess; yes, but not innovative. We can’t be everything to everyone. Mrs West is on the tip of our tongues for one real reason – her persona, and by that I mean how she spends her life. Such associations include her overpublicised relation with sexual, monetary and the Elizabeth-Taylor-in-Cleopatra circa 1963 fame. With 49.1 million followers on instagram, surpassing Beyonce by a million followers or so, it was no surprise the self-professed Queen of Selfies released a book of supposedly candid intimate photos, spanning a nine year period. The visual autobiography, “Selfish”, launched in May 2015 with much hype surrounding the reality star’s most indulgent and revealing body of work… sans her golden performance in a sextape with Rnb star Ray J.
The Karadasians are a prime example of the ‘brash cash’ demographic. Believing in business being solely about selling profitable benefits, everyone in the Karadasian/Jenner clan is involved in some sort of enterprise. Whether it is their DASH store, a new App, clothing line or even Robert’s ‘Arthur George’ socks, each one is cashing in. Kim’s App, Kim Karadasian: Hollywood has grosses over an estimated 59 thousand daily. Would you call that a creative endeavour? Some would say yes. The App, in my opinion, doesn’t seem to be stemming from a place of concept but rather capitalising on a moment. No disrespect to the family. As Wendy Williams has said, there are only so many places in Harvard.
Wearing it well
Rick Owens stole Paris Fashion Week. Headlines like, “What you need to understand about those ‘human backpacks’ gave the controversial and unexpected performance art a runway show. Rick told Dazeddigital.com, “All the women in my life are formidable. I have seen them all step up to handle adversity with grace […] Straps can be about restraint but here they are all about support and cradling. Straps here become loving ribbons”, with the show being an ode to “nourishment, sisterhood/motherhood and regeneration; women raising women, women becoming women and women supporting other women.”
The spectacle had the audience focussed on models walk down the runway with other women strapped upside down to their bodies – a visual and emotional jolt of reality, too heavy and heaving to escape. In the case of semiotics (the study of signs and symbols) having women wear women surely has feministic – which is commercial as an ideology – and regressive implications. No doubt there would be more heated reactions if it was a male model with a woman as backpacks. Sexism would rear its commercial head and plant seeds no amount of creativity could cover. Yes, I said it – it had to be said (see on youtube; Chris Rock – Kill the Messenger). Once again the fetishism of lesbians is glorified where the homosexual image is downplayed and even pigeonholed to being ‘camp’.
All work, all play
So the news and panties dropped on Playboy Enterprises Inc.’s direction for their premier magazine, Playboy. Beginning in 1972, 7 million issues have been distributed monthly to 1.25 million today, according to the Los Angeles Times. Most have heard of the Playboy mansion and the man of the manor, Hugh Hefner. The infamous ‘grotto’ has made this adult entertainment magazine as sought after as the women who pose for their Centrefold editions – Kim Karadasian is a good example, though personally Pamela Anderson was one of my favourite covers.
Suffering from nostalgia, Playboy magazine wants to focus on content and culture rather than ‘designer va(g)inas’. Playboy editorial director Jimmy Jellinek told the Los Angeles Times; “You could tell by looking at it, the carpets had gotten a little bit musty. We made a conscious decision two years ago that we needed to make some profound changes to the aesthetic and construction of the magazine.”
Whether Playboy ups their content game or not, there will always be a need for… gratification, in different forms. Being commercial – as some would call Playboy – is not a dirty word anymore. There are so many new and exciting opportunities to make money in this world. Some focuses on concept, some focuses on cash. We can have both. We, as a society, are not necessarily concerned with origins either, despite the new age-y need for knowing everything. Whatever happened to ignorance is bliss?
Some of us don’t want honesty, we just want beautiful things. In my opinion there are far dirtier words than commercialism or capitalism. These include: repression, intolerance, and ignorance. Whether commercial or creative, we can all capitalise on the available resources and come out on top… if that is your position of choice.