Various matters have kept me from posting lately, but I saw something this morning that seemed to require comment, especially since I have posted on this subject already, namely, the Alexander McQueen exhibition. In fact, I have posted on it twice.
I live on the West Side of Manhattan, directly across Central Park from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Since I am there frequently, I saw the McQueen show early on, when it was still possible to view it without much of a wait. Something about the exhibition really caught on, however, and gradually the lines began to lengthen. If you go to this link, the exhibition space for McQueen is the orange area at the top on the second floor.
The lines for the show soon snaked out down that narrow hallway parallel to the 19th-century galleries (in light purple on the map). They then began to extend further, making a 45 degree turn and continuing through the Ancient Near Eastern galleries (the part that is indicated by blank space above the three green rooms, 175, 174, 173), all the way to the Great Balcony (which you can see labeled on the map). It wasn't long before the lines went down the Great Staircase itself and down into the rotunda of the museum. This morning, as can be seen in the above photo, the lines are now outside the museum and snaking around the back up to the east drive of Central Park. One of the guards told me people had started lining up at 6 a.m. The museum will be open until midnight tonight and tomorrow.
So, why did this exhibit catch on? Well, I am not going to spend much time analyzing it. As I wrote earlier, novelty has much to do with the crowds. Novelty produces a certain desperation; people don't want to think they missed something new. Of course, we are an age saturated with the continuous production of the new. In fact, the brightest minds of the generation under 50 years of age are engaged in producing entertainment. I'm not immune to good entertainment. Though I don't have a TV, I gladly watch Burn Notice on my iMac.
McQueen, whatever one thinks of his couture creations, was highly gifted, though the "vision" thing was a little offputting to me. I remember saying to myself as I looked at some of the clothes: "I can see why this guy committed suicide." Very morbid mind. (See example above. Amazingly the collection is called "ready to wear.") It is probably this morbidity that also drives people to the show. We want to see extreme things. Maybe because we are banned from extremities in our speech. Being honest nowadays, after all, is often called hate speech. Politeness has been expunged by McQueen.
All that is novel passes. According to the Drudge Report yesterday, the most recent episode of Jersey Shore was a "bust": only 9 million viewers! (Full disclosure: I have never seen it.) Will people talk about Alexander McQueen a year from now? Or will they only talk about the fact that they stood in line for two hours?
Photo credits: Wall Street Journal online; Oodora; NJ.com