depthless uncreative wooden statue of Darth Vador

Trivial Pursuits: How Easter Eggs and Pastiches are Dumbing Down Our Artistic Experience

I don't have enough fingers to count the number of "art" exhibitions in Tokyo each week that feature Star Wars pastiches, Hokusai pastiches, Warhol pastiches, and so on. Ah, sorry! The politically correct and polite term for this kind of "art" nowadays is “homage.” Even Nanzuka Underground, once a promoter of genuinely interesting underground art, no longer bothers, and has recently served us an amazingly deep and thoughtful exhibition of Darth Vader wooden sculptures and drawings. 😀

As long as it sells… 🤷

Art, like cinema, has been engulfed by the so-called Easter egg culture, making Mark Fisher’s critiques of “Capitalist Realism” and consumerism seem almost subdued in comparison. The very essence of art and media has been commodified to the utmost of the utmost, and easter eggs often serve as catalysts and marketing tools, encouraging repeated shallow engagements to boost sales and maintain audience interest.

The cool thing with Easter eggs is that:

- They prioritize entertainment over substance, encouraging audiences to focus on shallow details rather than engaging deeply with the work’s themes or artistic qualities. (Superficial Engagement)

- They make the experience more about the hunt for hidden trivial details than about the story or message being conveyed. (Distraction from Narrative)

- They create a divide where only certain "in-the-know" viewers fully enjoy or understand all aspects of a work and take pleasure in spotting meaningless details that others “idiots” miss. (Exclusivity and Alienation)

- They are used as a commercial strategy to encourage repeated viewings or engagements; their purpose is more about marketing and making money than enriching the artistic or cinematic experience. (Commercial Gimmickry)

- Media is laden with references to other works, leading to mostly “derivative” content rather than original, thoughtful creation. Note that you can nowadays equate derivation with influence, nobody will notice. (Cultural Overload)

- They sanctify intellectual laziness: “Artists” opt for easy nods to popular culture instead of developing more profound, original content.

Add to this the fragmentation of attention created by social media, and you have the perfect recipe for a future idiocracy. 😀