By Achilleas Karapatakis
In Western society both men and women live under the constant fear of the modern version of perfection which constitutes of flawless skin, a weak/skinny frame and the most up to date wardrobe possible. In the materialistic capitalist society we live under, this look is being projected as the ideal. Due to the nature of liberalism, 21st Century art has taken the form of advertisements which try to represent how the humans of 2018 are supposed to look like.
We interpret the world through advertisements the same way people used to interpret the world through art. No matter where you go a billboard will be there to remind you how you are supposed to look like and a trailer for the newest reality based television show will try to teach you how you are supposed to dress and behave by showing you the Pavlovian training these contestants, and you vicariously through them, go through. All of the above create a very specific lens through which the viewer sees the world. I do make the case that cook shows, reality shows and sitcoms are part of modern art and most people have ended up seeing themselves in them. Now the question remains, is the way women and men being portrayed in TV and cinema relative to the modern person and if not, how were Europeans portrayed in artistic forms of expression even up to the 1950s?
Both sexes went through a huge transformation on how they were supposed to look like after the end of the war that changed history. With the eventual dominance of the West, Western society, being overly materialist due to liberalism, became obsessed with looks. Looks by themselves became a commodity for making the individual’s life easier. In our society looks, money and a nonthreatening physique whilst wearing the latest clothes in terms of fashion opened doors wide open for the average Joe.
In liberalism, everything has a price and everything can be bought and sold. Therefore, people become an object and are being treated like one. In this modern world devoid of substance, people try to become the unattainable. The imperfect perfection. They try to look like the latest fashion icon or the best cook TV has to offer, ending up not looking anything like their forebears. In doing so, they also end up having no connections to their roots.
This is where real art used to come in. For example, in the form of Ancient Greek theatre, filled with performances people used to connect with be it comedy or drama. Even in the Roman Colosseum where slaves were turned into glorious heroes, people saw their hopes and dreams in the slave that overcame the obstacles to stay alive. Art and artistic expressions of people reflected the psyche of the people they represented and actually meant something. Is this the same with modern TV series, advertisements and reality shows we consider as the prevalent artistic expressions of today?
Without having to do a lot of research, Europeans can easily find how their ancestors looked like by studying ancient Greek statutes, Roman mosaics and beautiful French and English paintings – but what they will never find in those is a sign of how the modern male or female is being portrayed through the current media. No matter the time or place, no matter if we talk about the times of Antiquity or the Renaissance, people used to look like actual human beings, with emotions, complex facial expressions and bodies which not only looked different and unique but had an actual story to tell. From the well trained body of Hercules to the smile of the Mona Lisa, these images of our people spoke to us in a manner that can only be described as an ecclesiastical experience. The people of each generation had stories to tell and these stories were told through the works of art of these periods. The statue of the heroic Leonidas was there to make everyone remember of the sacrifice of the Greeks and the pear shaped women of Rubens’ to remind everyone of the voluptuousness and fertility of the woman body.
All the aforementioned are but mere remnants of a past, dead and gone. Remnants of a past that are there to haunt us and remind us that when real art is dead and when it stops expressing our deepest feelings and surroundings, a nation has truly lost its way. When secularism has taken away everything that used to be considered divine, the true artist should revolt against it.