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How Kurt Cobain convinced me of the commercialisation of art | Opinions



Art for art’s sake was the doctrine of the 19th-century bohemians who believed it should be created not for commercial purposes, but for the sake of greater creative exploration and self-expression. And while this is a noble notion, artists require ways to sustain their livelihood. Then the question arises when the artist begins to monetise and promote their work, does that same work begin to lose its value?

As a writer and poet, I’ve always struggled with marketing my work. Indulging in “shameless self-promotion”, as they say, felt like a betrayal to the artist within me. Once I texted a friend expressing my hesitation about creating an Instagram page to share my poetry. She replied with a curt remark: “Neha, if a monkey is dancing in the jungle and no one sees it, then what’s the point?” The logic seemed to make sense and so I proceeded to create the page, promptly deleting it just 15 minutes later. Personally, once I put the pen down and the clacking of the keyboard ruminates, I do not want anything more to do with my words.

There is a reason why society considers artists like Vincent Van Gogh or El Greco to be two of the greatest painters of all times, beyond the quality of their work: They were largely unknown during the time they were alive, only gaining their fame and recognition posthumously. Their work is seen as legitimate because they were “true” artists who persisted and continued to create meaningful work in spite of the lack of adulation. However, given that we live in a largely globalised world now, some people argue that artists do not really have an excuse any more to not share their work.

However, art and business are still seen as two dichotomous professions. Artists create from the soul, accessing the truth within them and then proceeding to bear it on paper or the screen. Businesspeople, on the other hand, are seen more as cogs in the capitalistic machines whose primary goal is to make money. But at some point, it seems, that the artist must become the businessperson.

An artist who truly understood the ultimate commercialisation of art was Kurt Cobain. Cobain, often hailed as the “King of Grunge”, was the frontman of the rock band Nirvana. The band, which achieved meteoritic fame in the early 1990s, was responsible for bringing indie rock into the mainstream. Despite the global success and reach of Nirvana, Cobain was often seen as an unwilling participant in his band’s fame. He outwardly rejected the commercialisation of music and despised the press junkets and promotional aspect that was part and parcel of the business.

However, upon closer look, it became clear how self-aware Cobain truly was; he knew exactly what he was doing and operated very much like a businessman. Cobain was evidently aware that Nirvana appealed to a niche market filled with young, disillusioned, angsty teenagers and many of the songs he penned (“Smells like Teen Spirit” or “Territorial Pissings”) reflected his awareness about his audience’s demographic and the mindset at the time.

Danny Goldberg, the former music manager of Nirvana, wrote in his book, Serving the Servant about how Cobain had envisioned Nirvana attaining global recognition and strategically planned to ensure that. Goldberg first recognised this upon his initial meeting with the band in 1990 – during the earlier parts of the meeting Cobain remained largely taciturn, but immediately chimed in to voice his dissent about the band remaining on the indie label. Cobain undoubtedly did not want his art to serve a smaller audience, instead, wanting the band to become an international sensation.

Goldberg went on to describe in his book how Cobain possessed a “comprehensive, crystalline understanding” of how to resonate with young audiences over different mediums – Cobain was involved in all aspects of the band from designing their album cover art to overseeing the direction of their music videos. Underneath the façade of a reluctant rockstar, Cobain was visibly invested in engineering Nirvana’s international success and maintaining the band’s external image.

However, the band faced an untimely end on April 5, 1994, when Cobain took his own life. He joined the infamous “27 club” – a group of musicians who died at the age of 27 from suicide, overdose, or accident – alongside singers like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin.

It becomes complicated when our art becomes our brand as we begin to quantify its value solely on media consumption and public reception. Once our own art is commercialised to a large extent, we begin to look at our work differently and proceed to devalue it if it is not received well enough. While it is the ultimate dream for an artist to create art for arts’ sake, there is so much beyond our control that art can never purely remain an honourable pursuit.

Over time, I have learned that art and business clearly go hand-in-hand despite the polar opposite ideals each propagates. While creative growth and passion for the craft must remain the fundamental priority, art ultimately does need an audience and it is ultimately the artists’ own job to ensure that their work gets seen, heard, and known. Money is inextricably linked to art, no matter how much we deny that notion or avoid branding our work. Money not only helps cover the bills but like American author Steven Pressfield once said it “buys you another season to create”.

Unfortunately, the capitalistic society we currently find ourselves living in rewards and prioritises STEM careers more than the creative arts. While STEM careers offer greater returns on investment for a state, many ignore the fact that the story of civilisation is told through the art of its people. The creative arts, like painting, sculpting or performance, all create more empathetic and globally-minded individuals which contribute to their social empowerment. The creative sector, which was already underfunded, now also finds itself struggling with budget cuts and furloughed employees in the midst of a global pandemic. The lack of funding and equitable compensation eventually leads to the making of an industry that is ultra-competitive and pressurised, further leaving artists lurched and fledgeling in a poor job market.

Artists access a broken place within themselves to manifest these beautiful art forms we all happily consume. Writing, particularly, is an artistic medium which can at times feel like one where there is an achingly unbearable intrusion into our most private thoughts and desires, so much so that it borders on exploitation when we are not compensated fairly. Adding on to that, the notion that we ourselves have to promote our own work to build an audience further takes away time that could be spent artistically growing.

Actors, writers, painters, and sculptors give so much of themselves in their work, that there comes a point when there is not much left to give. Perhaps society must begin valuing the art it so readily utilises, and fair compensation is probably the place to start, given how art and business are clearly just two sides of the same coin.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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Riot police squads intervene as pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters clash in Montreal




People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.

People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.

  • Violence
    between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protesters in Montreal was condemned by
    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
  • Montreal’s
    city police force intervened and declared the protests illegal after tensions
    heightened and clashes broke out.
  • Israeli
    strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
    toll in almost a week of clashes.

– Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday condemned the violence and
“despicable rhetoric” that marked several weekend protests throughout
the country, after clashes between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters in

worst violence in years, sparked by unrest in Jerusalem, is raging between the
Jewish state and Islamist militants.

strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
toll in almost a week of deadly clashes.

after protests in Montreal, Trudeau condemned what he said was “despicable
rhetoric and violence we saw on display in some protests this weekend”.

insisting on the “right to assemble peacefully and express themselves
freely in Canada”, Trudeau stressed in a tweet that there was no tolerance
for “antisemitism, Islamophobia, or hate of any kind”.

on Sunday, Montreal police used tear gas following clashes between pro-Israel
and pro-Palestinian protesters.

hundred demonstrators, draped in Israeli flags, had gathered in a central
Montreal square to express solidarity with the Jewish state.

‘Protesting is a right’

the protest started peacefully, tensions ratcheted up with the arrival of
pro-Palestinian demonstrators and clashes soon broke out.

SPVM, Montreal’s city police force, declared the protests illegal, and squads
of riot police intervened, using tear gas to separate and disperse the two
groups, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

police spent much of the afternoon in pursuit of the pro-Palestinian
protesters, who spread out and regrouped in commercial streets in the city centre.

the clashes, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said on Twitter that
“protesting is a right”, but that “intolerance, violence and
anti-Semitism have no place here”.

She said:

Montreal is a city of peace.

thousand pro-Palestinian demonstrators had gathered on Saturday in central
Montreal to denounce what they said were Israeli repression and “war
crimes” in Gaza.

Israel”, some protesters chanted, while others held up a banner that read,
“Stop the genocide of Palestinian children”.

protests happened the same day in multiple Canadian cities, including Toronto,
Ottawa and Vancouver.

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Peter Thiel Helps Fund an App That Tells You What to Do




“How would you feel about being able to pay to control multiple aspects of another person’s life?” asks the BBC.

“A new app is offering you the chance to do just that.”

When writer Brandon Wong recently couldn’t decide what takeaway to order one evening, he asked his followers on social media app NewNew to choose for him. Those that wanted to get involved in the 24-year-old’s dinner dilemma paid $5 (£3.50) to vote in a poll, and the majority verdict was that he should go for Korean food, so that was what he bought…

NewNew is the brainchild of Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Courtne Smith. The app, which is still in its “beta” or pre-full release stage, describes itself as “a human stock market where you buy shares in the lives of real people, in order to control their decisions and watch the outcome”. For many of us that sounds a bit ominous, but the reality is actually far less alarming. It is aimed at what it calls “creators” — writers, painters, musicians, fashion designers, bloggers etc. It is designed as a way for them to connect far more closely with their fans or followers than on other social media services and, importantly, monetise that connection…

Whenever a vote is cast the creator gets the money minus NewNew’s undisclosed commission… In addition to voting, followers can also pay extra — from $20 — to ask a NewNew creator to do something of their choosing, such as naming a character in a book after them. But the creator can reject all of these “bids”, and if they do so then the follower doesn’t have to part with the money…

Co-founder and chief executive Ms Smith, a 33-year-old Canadian, has big plans for NewNew, and has some heavyweight backers. Investors include Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, and the first outside person to put money into Facebook. Others with a stake in the business include leading US tech investment fund Andreessen Horowitz, and Hollywood actor Will Smith (no relation to Courtne). Snapchat has also given technical support.

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Sandpapergate will haunt Australia cricket forever: ex-bowling coach




Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach - Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach – Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The 2018 ball-tampering scandal will haunt Australian cricket forever, much like the infamous underarm delivery of 40 years ago, the team’s former bowling coach David Saker said on Monday.

Saker was responding to opening batsman Cameron Bancroft suggesting that Australia’s bowlers knew about the plan in Cape Town to alter the ball which earned him a nine-month ban and rocked the game.

Saker was Australia’s bowling coach when Bancroft was caught trying to rough up the ball with sandpaper during the third Test against South Africa.

While refusing to be drawn on who knew what, Saker said “the finger-pointing is going to go on and on and on”.

“It’s like the underarm, it’s never going to go away,” he told Fairfax Media, referring to a 1981 incident when Trevor Chappell bowled underarm to ensure New Zealand lost a one-day match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The notorious delivery is still cited in New Zealand and in cricketing circles as a prime example of unsporting conduct.

However, the ball-tampering scandal – dubbed “sandpapergate” – had a greater impact on Australian cricket, with the then-captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner suspended for a year from all cricket and stripped of their leadership roles.

Darren Lehmann also quit as coach and all the top brass from Cricket Australia left after a scathing review blasted their “arrogant and controlling” win-at-all-costs culture.

No one else among the team or coaching staff was held to account but Bancroft’s remarks in an interview with The Guardian newspaper hinted that the team’s bowlers at least knew about the plan.

“Obviously what I did benefits bowlers and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory,” he said.

Saker added: “There was a lot of people to blame. It could have been me to blame, it could have been someone else. It could have been stopped and it wasn’t, which is unfortunate.

“Cameron’s a very nice guy. He’s just doing it to get something off his chest … He’s not going to be the last.”

In response, Cricket Australia said that if anyone had new information, they would look into it.

Saker said he was not opposed to a fresh investigation but added “I just don’t know what they’re going to find out.”

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Mexico’s Andrea Meza crowned Miss Universe




Miss Universe Andrea Meza

Miss Universe Andrea Meza





1. Mexico

2. India

3. Brazil

4. Dominican Republic

5. Peru



1. Jamaica 

2. Dominican Republic 

3. India

4. Peru 

5. Australia 

6. Puerto Rico

7. Thailand

8. Costa Rica

9. Mexico

10. Brazil





1. Columbia

2. Peru 

3. Australia 

4. France

5. Myanmar

6. Jamaica 

7. Mexico 

8. Dominican Republic 

9. USA

10. Indonesia 

11. Argentina 

12. India

13. Curaçao

14. Puerto Rico

15. Phillipines 

16. Brazil

17. Great Britain

18. Nicaragua

19. Thailand 

20. Costa Rica

21. Vietnam



74 contestants will compete for the title of Miss Universe on 16 May in Hollywood, Florida. 

The Miss Universe pageant takes place on 16 May in the US (02:00 to 05:00 on 17 May SA time). The show will be broadcast live on 1 Magic (DStv Channel 103) with a repeat at 21:30. 

Reigning Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa will crown her successor at the end of the event.

Representing South Africa is Natasha Joubert, and South Africans are hoping for the “magic double” – back-to-back consecutive wins, which has only happened once before in the pageant’s history.

Natasha wowed crowds at the national costume competition last week and on Friday impressed during the preliminary round

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Miss Mexico crowned Miss Universe 2021




By AFP Time of article published 16m ago

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Washington – Miss Mexico was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday in Florida, after fellow contestant Miss Myanmar used her stage time to draw attention to the bloody military coup in her country.

Sunday night marked the Miss Universe competition’s return to television, after the pageant was cancelled in 2020 for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Andrea Meza, 26, finished first ahead of the Brazilian and Peruvian finalists in a flashy televised event, hosted by American actor Mario Lopez and television personality Olivia Culpo.

Former Miss Universe contestants Cheslie Kryst, Paulina Vega and Demi-Leigh Tebow (who won the title in 2017) served as competition analysts and commentators, and a panel of eight women determined the winner.

Dressed in a sparkling red evening gown, Meza tearfully walked the catwalk as Miss Universe for the first time, before rushing back for a group hug with the other competitors.

Meza beat more than 70 contestants from around the globe in the 69th installment of Miss Universe, which was held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

In the days leading up to the final competition, Miss Myanmar Thuzar Wint Lwin, who made the top 21, made waves when she used her time in the spotlight to bring attention to the coup in her country.

“Our people are dying and being shot by the military every day,” she said during her biographical video, which showed photos of her taking part in the anti-coup protests. “Therefore I would like to urge everyone to speak out about Myanmar.”

Natasha Joubert, Miss Universe South Africa 2020 competes on stage in Ema Savahl swimwear during the MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Competition.

She also won the award for best national costume: during that competition segment on Thursday, she wore an outfit beaded in traditional Burmese patterns and held up a sign that said, “Pray for Myanmar.”

Myanmar has been in uproar since February 1, when the army ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

At least 796 people have been killed by security forces since then, according to a local monitoring group, while nearly 4 000 people are behind bars.

Miss Singapore Bernadette Belle Ong – who did not make the top 21 – also used the national costume portion to make a political statement.

Dressed in a glittering red bodysuit and matching thigh-high boots, she turned around to reveal her cape – in the colours of the Singaporean flag – was painted with the words “Stop Asian Hate.”

“What is this platform for if I can’t use it to send a strong message of resistance against prejudice and violence?” she wrote on Instagram alongside pictures of her outfit.

The United States in particular has seen a surge in anti-Asian violence in the past year, which activists have blamed on former president Donald Trump’s rhetoric, especially his repeated description of Covid-19 as the “China virus.”

The pageant has also drawn criticism in the past for objectifying the contestants.

In recent years, the competition has shifted image, focusing more on female empowerment and activism.

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