When Art is a Thankless Job

A South African writer friend of mine whom I met online while we were both working on a project for the same client brought to my attention something that I guess I’ve always been thinking about, but just somehow couldn’t put into words in a manner which would fully express those thoughts. He simply exclaimed that sometimes the many careers which form part of the arts see artists completing thankless jobs, day in and day out.

The case in point which he made reference to was that of how he realised that the one thing which has remained constant in his life is his love for the beautiful game of football and in order to keep that fire burning he has fallen into a routine of watching as much of the football on T.V. as possible. When I’d been in touch with him recently, however, on more than just one occasion, I couldn’t help but notice that he’d respond late to my messages and when he finally responded he’d tell me he’d been out to the stadium to catch the football live.

Reason? The quality of the production has deteriorated, so he says whenever he can help it he goes out to catch the action live so that he doesn’t have to have the frustration of his team playing nonsense compounded by the poor broadcasting production which has become standard these days.

He says he wishes he could subsequently get into production and show them how it’s done, based on how they’ve previously been doing it before the sports broadcasting standards seem to have been updated in some way. One particular example he made reference to was that of how he can count about three seconds after kick-off when the director of the broadcasting team is going to cue the display of that big 0-0 score-line at the bottom of the screen, splashing the league sponsor’s logo and the names of the teams playing the match, without fail. The problem is that sometimes right where the post kick-off info splash is displayed, that is where the action is and the viewers therefore miss out on about five crucial seconds of action.

It’s only simple logic that sometimes this score-line splash should be delayed a bit if it means the viewers at home get a better viewing experience, but this is of course something which only a director who themselves is interested in the game would know.

There are many other examples he came with, such as how the director always cuts to the fourth official when they display the board which signals how many minutes are to be added on to the regulation time and they do this regardless of whether or not there is some hot action on the pitch which should perhaps rather be shown to the viewers.

The problem is indeed a problem because there was a time when none of these things were an issue, which speaks to the discussion of art sometimes being a thankless job in that when the viewer is getting a good viewing experience, the artists involved behind the scenes have absolutely no reason to be mentioned or even thought of in any way, let alone congratulated for a job well done.

Shaun Greaves

Blogger of arts and liver of life. Singaporean at heart, but living in the UK. Life is art, appreciate it.
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