Each Thursday of the week I can expect to get an email from my dad forwarding John Stossel’s weekly email, where he outlines the upcoming show–including his Give Me A Break! segment–and usually has a bunch of email reactions from the last episode of 20/20.
Man, I’m sorry I missed the last one on the TV. In a segment called You Call That Art?, he got a bunch of 4-year-olds to create "modern-art masterpieces," and then had ordinary people, artists and "experts" evaluate them alongside "genuine" pieces created by "masters." Well, I can’t bring you the video segment, but I just might be able to make you piss in your pants with laughter–especially once you get a load of the outrage from the emails. You of the mind: treat yourself and read on. The rest of you really and desperately need to know that the laughter you hear regularly is likely the real people laughing at you.
First, here’s the 3-page scoop from Stossel’s website. Some funny excerpts:
One artist, Victor Acevedo, described one of the children’s pieces as "a competent execution of abstract expressionism which was first made famous by de Kooning and Jackson Pollock and others. So it’s emulating that style and it’s a school of art."
When I told him the work was done by a 4-year-old he said, "That’s amazing. Give that kid a show."
Actually, it was a collaboration. Maybe they should give Hannah and Haley, the two 4-year-old girls who painted it, a show of their own. More than 1,800 people said their work was great art.
Now to the email reactions to the segment:
"Mr. Stossel, Your report tonight on "20/20" was completely ignorant and ill-informed. Actually, I find most of your reports to be of poor quality and shallow depth of investigation. As a person who values cultural production and intellectual growth, I was particularly offended by your blanket generalizations about contemporary art and your ridiculous "experiment" to test the difference between "modern" art and "child’s play" without any real in-depth analysis from experts or those who enjoy art. How offensive to just dismiss all art, especially when so much of what you deemed equivalent to children’s play seemed to please viewers? So what if your inane test proved that some 4-year-olds are good painters? So children are talented!" Mika Tajima
"You know absolutely nothing about what ‘art’ is. There is no WRONG ANSWER dummy! … you guys must be hard up for stories … but to take a slam at creativity at the same time? Well that’s just wrong." Concerned.
"You should be ashamed of your self! Bad reporting. Why is it that so many people are out to discredit visual art???? And the fact that you use kids’ art to do it is amazing to me. Why shouldn’t some kids be good at Abstract Art? Kids are good at a lot of things, even better than adults in a lot of cases. Who was that kid that was up for an Academy Award a couple of years ago? Did a movie with Bruce Willis? Did that discredit Bruce Willis or the profession of acting? No…When you do stories like this you effectively chip away at the foundation of culture, something that is already in a fragile state. It is nothing less that irresponsible reporting and very destructive to those in the profession… P.S. I’ve also seen plenty of amazing child reporters on TV" Shelley Rothenburger
"Children’s art can be purely delightful because they don’t have the hang-ups that the John Stossels do. They are more likely to be uninhibited and therefore show a relaxed, spontaneous joy that many adults cannot. Dubuffet once said his aim was to paint as well as a 4-year-old." Ron Owens, Elmira, N.Y.
Now for an intermission to hear from a couple of people with brains.
"I just took your "art test." I must admit, although I thought the 4-year-olds art work was not considered "ART", I thought their paintings were much better than the so called real McCoy!!" Sue
"Dear John, […] One day at age three, Neil came home with a finger painting he had created in perhaps one minute in pre-school…it was bright and colorful…and I thought it was just as much art as many contemporary paintings I had seen in galleries…so I framed it…to this day, it hangs in my dining room. Over the years guests have commented on this "painting," have asked me where I got it, who painted it…and have exclaimed in no uncertain terms that the artist was amazing and talented…finger painted by a 3-year-old who gave no thought at all to what he was doing…just enjoyed the feel of his fingers in the gooey paint…and splattered it on the paper!!!" Laurel Albea, Houston, Texas
Back to the frivolity with a particularly hilarious moron (with three fancy names, no less):
"Well John, that really had to be the most asinine, lowbrow, brain-dead, ignorant piece of journalistic hyperbole I’ve yet had the misfortune to sit thru. The fact is, as you probably would have found out if you’d done a modicum of research on the issue, that many modern artists spend lifetimes trying to get back to the creative innocence they had as children. That we try to exercise that innocence in combination with our adult training in image making…Best of luck, John." an unfortunate channel surfer, Marie Angeli Curewitz
And what would such raw idiocy be without the dipshits who insist that you pay for their blind ignorance:
"I was disappointed by your last comment that tax dollars are wasted by support this type of art. Do you realize how hard it is to have sufficient funding for the arts? … Would you turn people against the movie industry because you don’t like horror films?" Art teacher in Virginia
"to criticize government spending, especially the paltry amounts spent on art, as opposed to war spending and other millions of dollars spent by our government…is despicable…" Laura G. Hart
"I am thankful now that I never watch your show. I was repulsed at the end of your discussion when you questioned funding for the arts. It is one thing to question whether something should be classified as art; it is another thing to broaden the scope to include federal funding…."
"This was one of the most biased, irresponsible pieces of journalism I have had the misfortune of viewing in a long time….Just because you don’t understand the intricacies of neurosurgery or physics doesn’t diminish their worth or our need for them (or our need to fund them)…"
"Check out some of the wonderful things that the arts can do for individuals with disabilities or children from abusive situations. Look into organizations like Free Arts and speak to some people who have been helped by art, as I am sure you will see that your position on this subject is uninformed. I am thankful that art is about enjoyment and creativity and not just consumption, unlike your show with is simply junk food for drones." Leslie Ross
"How would our money and time be better spent? On monster truck rallies and at Walmarts?"
Stossel answers back with simple logic, which of course will be wholly ineffective against such a pathetic display of raving stupidity:
I don’t get it. Why do you assume that unless government steps in, no one will support the arts? The National Endowment for the Arts was only established in 1965, yet Jackson Pollock managed to create all his artwork without it. Do you suggest that American art was non-existent before 1965? Public funding might appear to be "paltry", but only after you compare it to the vast amount of private funding that goes to major museums. The Guggenheim gets nearly $250,000 in government grants, but that’s only for only .005 percent of Guggenheim’s total revenue. The Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco gets more than $704,000 in government grants, but it takes in over $46 million in private funding. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City gets nearly $13 million in government grants, but it takes in over $204 million in private funding. The arts will not disappear simply if government no longer forces the rest of the country to spend their tax dollars on something they don’t value.
I happen to like some horror movies, but I would never ask YOU to pay for it.
So as to not leave you out in the cold and dark world of abject mental retardation, let’s finish with a couple of real people, and the second one’s a riot:
"Thank you, thank you, thank you! Finally someone said out loud what the majority of us have been thinking for years. I absolutely loved the look on the faces of those pretentious self righteous artofiles when you told them the truth about the real artists (priceless). Why don’t you guys auction off the paintings done by the children and see if it won’t pay for their college? You made my day." Tim Donk, West Harrison, Ind.
"I do have a story from the studio I worked at that you may find funny. While painting we usually set up a board (foamcore mostly) next to the canvas to smear off extra paint from the brush, test airbrush patterns, write quick notes, etc. When they become full we throw them out, but one day someone comes in and says that the practice board looked like modern art. We had a good laugh and then got a wicked idea. The head artist (the guy that owned the building) painted a crude eye in the middle and made a sign labeled Madonna’s pain. We then put it in a cheap frame and actually hung it up during the next art show. We were laughing still until someone in an expensive suit comes into the gallery and told us of how he imagined the artist going through so much frustration while painting this. He bought the art (our trash really) for about $4,000. Since then we will sometimes put our real creative work on hold and just throw paint at a cheap canvas. You’d be surprised how many times this works…"