Reading Michael Feingold's latest essay in Village Voice reminded me of the ongoing conversation prompted by Clay Lord's post on whether art needs to justify itself.
Actually, Feingold's essay is slightly askew of Clay's topic, but some comments to Clay's post talked about how some artists and shows don't seem to consider the audience. Feingold's essay swings the conversation to the other extreme: what happens when "art" listens to its audience too much.
Consider this quote, but I encourage you to read Feingold's entire essay before responding:
"The big question is what our theater can do in the face of such intense mass-market pressure. Corporations run the world; we can't pretend they don't. Through the mass media, they also run the popular mind, to the ongoing consternation of individualists like you and me. Ours is a small, embattled group, with few allies, and it, too, feels mass-marketing's tug: As Facebook has taught me, a disheartening number of theater folk share the tourist audience's preoccupation with mass culture, to the point where I sometimes feel like the hero of Ionesco's Rhinoceros, watching his friends turn into stampeding animals."