What a great song. Thanks for that, Dd. And for the heads up.Your entrance into the forum was a bit of a rocky road, probably because you didn't realize it but you're hitting on a few contentious issues, older guys vs. younger guys, academic vs. unschooled, playing for the audience vs. playing for your own art. Good stuff!! You and Todd will probably get along better when you stop insulting his friends.
Enjoy a good Stylistics song.
The issues you mention probably have existed in every art form since the beginning, or, at least, since young guys aged into old guys, artists started teaching, and patrons began, erm, patronizing.
In the TV writing business, I was a plaintiff in an age discrimination lawsuit that was settled in our favor at the end of last year for $70 million. An interesting twist to what I thought was a cut-and-dried battle was that although no one denied that age discrimination exists in that industry, the majority of the younger writers I know saw nothing wrong with it, as in, "You've had your day. How're we going to get a chance unless someone makes you guys step aside?"
The "being schooled" thing also in controversial in TV and film. I've burned out and retired several times. The first time, I went to Santa Fe and began teaching TV writing and production at The College of Santa Fe. The head of the program at the time was very careful to tell me that my job was not to teach students how to create professional level work but "how to appreciate it because we can't let ourselves be seen as a trade school," which I believe would have been quite a disappointment to the students who'd signed on because what they wanted more than anything in life was, of course, to become pros. If they'd known. Fortunately, many became pros anyway.
The creating for yourself versus creating for your audience versus creating for those who pay you if they aren't the audience thing has always been at the heart of show business. As a friend of mine once said, "The best kept secret in show business is that it's a business." During my career I've found very few people who weren't working diligently to undermine/overcome the restraints imposed on their creativity by the people paying the bills. Those pragmatists (or cynics) who went along with the executive/patron as audience thing usually failed because even if they gave those in charge what they said they wanted, their output never got a large enough audience to earn enough money to justify it. Over the years, I've seen time and time again that the biggest hits occur when the artists are doing what they really want, the way they really want it, and - wonder of wonders - their needs and desires are so in sync with the times that a large percentage of the public (my "real audience") watches/listens/buysbuysbuys, making the show/film a hit with huge profits rolling in. It's totally unpredictable, a wonderful conjunction of luck/work/talent/skill, and I love it.
I'd be an idiot if I said that what my employers thought of me didn't matter. Of course it does, if I want to work again. But that doesn't keep me from trying to subvert their usual timidity at every turn. Once upon a time I worked with a then major star who put it this way, "Kid, we're guerrilla fighters. We nod, we smile, and then we sneak in and do whatever it takes to fulfill our dreams. And the best of us make them think it's their idea because the real reward for doing the job well isn't the money it's getting to do it again."