Current Levels of Creativity

So I read an article in the Harvard Business Review today that asked, are the super rich ruining the world’s great cities ?


The article made some statements regarding “levels of creativity” being as high as ever, and I confess I took issue with this.  My comment reprinted below.  Note how tactful I have become in my old age 🙂


This is an awfully broad topic, and while I don’t disagree with the facts herein, here is a slightly different take:

A big part of this discussion is, how does one define “creativity”? I think it is important to separate the craft elements, of, say, music or drawing, from the purely artistic elements, of actually generating new art forms and revealing new layers of the human experience.

Alas, when examined from that perspective, creativity is suffering. A few items:

The top grossing films this week are Wonder Woman, Captain Underpants, Pirates of the Caribbean, Guardians the Galaxy, Alien Covenant, and Baywatch. Instead of new ideas, you have three movies based on comic books, and three that are sequels, one to a TV show. Wonder Woman was created in 1941.

Two of the three top grossing Broadway shows this week are Hello Dolly and Groundhog Day.

The 20th century saw astonishing creativity in the realm of pop music, including the development of ragtime, jazz, blues, swing, rock n roll, and albums such as Sergeant Pepper. However, since the creation of hip hop in the 1970’s, there has been no significant innovation in pop music “form,” and in fact it can be argued that it is moving backwards into ever more simplistic harmony, and simplistic forms such as chant.

Can you name a significant / legitimate arts “movement” that has occurred in the last 30 years? Or perhaps a new dance “craze”? In the 60’s there was a new one every week.

There are many things contributing to what is, in my humble opinion, essentially a kind of broad artistic stagnation. One is, younger people who traditionally supported new kinds of art are either too distracted by social media or they are too financially strapped by education and housing costs to support live artistic events. Another issue of concentrations of wealth is that those with that wealth may choose to support staid symphonic institutions, not disruptive art forms that challenge the status quo. Another is the overly long copyright period, making it profitable to keep re-selling an idea from 1925 rather than creating new. Another is that, historically, large militarily dominant empires tend to be very conservative in terms of artistic growth. (Compare the Roman Empire to Renaissance Italian City States).

There are many contributing factors, both economic and political, but when we talk about “creativity” in terms of the development of forms, perception, and connection that true art must possess, one could make the argument that we are lagging behind on all fronts.

– Justin Locke

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