Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Are High Gas Prices Affecting the Arts?

I was reading a news story on the weekend, (which I won't link to because the Associated Press were getting a little litigious about such things), regarding how the high cost of gasoline is affecting summer touring plans for a number of fledgling indie bands, who often take to a van or small bus and comb the plains, hitting towns along the way to build a fan base and to make a little bit of money.

Basically, with gas prices so high, a lot of smaller bands are either scrapping their plans, joining forces with other bands to save cost or changing their plans and limiting their tours to the Eastern United States(and I imagine the Southern Ontario/Quebec/Great Lakes area as well).

Yes, with Social Networking sites, viral videos and the relatively cost-effective means bands now have to record themselves and get their message out, it would seem that going on tour wouldn't be such a necessity, but alas touring is still very important to establish a fan base, especially outside one's region.

And this little problem got the gears in my mind spinning wondering what else these high gas prices are affecting in the pop cultural, mass media and artistic spheres.

For instance, I have a feeling that there are going to be a lot fewer and shorter road trips and a little less adventure for generation of college students and young adults, experiences that would become the basis for future music, novels, short stories, movie scripts and artwork. Think about all the ponderous and long-winded travelogues filled with recollections of quaint little truck stops, earthy real people and questionable sexual relations with strangers and/or friends that we will never have the privilege of reading because gas prices were just so damn high this year. It is a world I don't even want to contemplate.

I have an inkling that the whole handicrafts industry is suffering from the high price of gasoline as well. I mean, think about all those people who are just now trying to get into the arts and crafts business, well, with gas prices the way they are, it becomes increasingly difficult to attend the many craft fairs and art shows one would would need to have a presence at to make a profit from their hours of hard work, and thus, North America will lack the crucial tchotchkes it needs to decorate its rec rooms and dens with shoddily handmade and painted woodwork. Who will think of the children who will live their lives without being terrorized by a particularly sinister looking wood sculpture of a woodchuck because the person who makes such items can't make it to a particular show in the park with their wares?

And lest I forget about the initial spark that led to these thoughts, think about midlevel musical act and their burgeoning drug habit? Think about how much it costs to transport cocaine and other controlled substances across the country in small batches... that has to raise prices, doesn't it? Do we expect the musicians of this continent to function without drugs? What sort of madness is that? Of course, they could just drink themselves into incoherence and perhaps an early grave, but where is the fun in that? No, what will probably happen is those rockers who were into coke and heroin, well, they'll have to settle for something a little closer to home... that's right... I'm talking about meth, and no one wants to see the rising star they adored as merely an abnormally lanky and pale individual with sunken and moody eyes suddenly develop rotted teeth, sores all over their face and ca-ray-zay hair, well, that isn't good for anyone. Aside from which, no one should be encouraging hillbillies to do chemistry for fun and profit.

And I am pretty sure attendance for those big open-air festivals out in the middle of the sun-baked hinterland is down, though remarkably, the high prices the promoters charge for water and food now seems justified given the price of gasoline. And perhaps the only plus of these high prices is the fact that no one will likely start a fire a la Woodstock '99, because that form of destructive protest would just be too expensive, especially after paying for tickets and a few 20 dollar slices of pizza.

To think, if I hadn't read that little story a few days ago, I wouldn't have even considered how detrimental the high price of gas was to all those lovely culturally-driven intellectually-derived careers that I so adore to critique.


Megan said...

Dude, your entire blogging life is in danger here! What are you going to do?


Diesel said...

Imagine if gas prices were this high 40 years ago. We'd be reading Jack Kerouac's "On the Couch."

Arjan said...

pfft I don't know the difference in prices between the US and Canada..but if they are somewhat the same, you (north america) shouldn't complain.

Prices over here (Netherlands)
1 liter:
Gasoline: 1,68 € (aprox. x1,5 to convert to US dollar )
Diesel: 1,43€
LPG: 0,70€

That's LITERS, not gallons. Yay for taxes. Cause it's not actually high gas prices that make up our high costs, but the incredible amount of taxes the government adds to the gasprice.

MC said...

Megan: Well, I guess I could always just write about video games where gas prices never count.

Diesel: Some people might say that was a good thing.

Arjan: The original article that I sparked this was about how gas prices along with the distribution of major cities in the Western North America was causing a lot of low to mid level bands to reconsider their plans. When you compare Western Europe to the Western United States, that discrepancy is very clear(for example, for the same driving distance between Reno and Salt Lake City, a band could drive and play in Brugge, Gent, Bruxelles, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Den Haag and Amsterdam)

Jeremy Barker said...

So, you'd like higher gas prices? ;)
Actually, this could really screw some bands as touring is almost the only way for them to make any money as most new bands give away a lot of their material, hoping to drive an audience to see them live. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

As for the AP, I think theu will have a hard time stopping people from linking to stories they freely out online. But if you are concerned, link to a publication that has posted the story instead of AP directly.

MC said...

Well, I'm not linking to them at the moment because they weren't acting in what I feel is good faith.

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