WTF Art Trends in 2020

I don’t care if it is popular or not, I’m just doing it for me.

I have been working on a new game all year, and have avoided talking about it except snippets here and there. The truth is I’m not sure I want to talk about it.

The game is set in a hopefully alternate near future after a “Second American Civil War” in which America lost. I’ll skip the details for now, but it is heavily influenced by events that happen to me and to America in 2020.

I can’t shake the feeling that people will play this game in the future and think: “This was obviously written in 2020”, at least I hope life will be back to some type of normal in the future so that the “Made in 2020” distinction is obvious.

I’ve mostly decided this project is for myself more than the public anyways. (Yes, I’ll release it when it is ready.) I’m taking the attitude that I don’t care if it is popular or not, I’m just doing it for me.

I’ll read it in the future and remember what was going on in the world when I wrote it. Hopefully I’ll be laughing at myself for being so dramatic, because things got better — instead of laughing at myself because things got worse.

I find the whole process of making the game cathartic. I don’t think anyone including myself has gotten through the year depression and anxiety free, but now that I am over my creative hump, making the game has become my outlet.

Pop Musicians doing the same thing

Most of the TV we have been getting was produced pre-pandemic. Networks and streaming services have been spacing it all out. I suspect that most of the movies that were supposed to be coming out this year will take years to be released in theaters.

Music, on the other hand, can be written and produced with social distancing, and the trends of artist lately have more or less followed my same attitude: I don’t care if it is popular or not, I’m just doing it for me.

The first song I noticed this attitude was, was with the Gen Z punk band “The Regrettes” and their melancholy ode to quarantining:

Then there is Taylor Swift, arguably the biggest pop star of the last few years, who with no fanfare released an album called folklore in July in which most of the songs seem to be throw backs to her country music roots.

Another artist Demi Lovato, decided to break the cardinal rule of top 40 pop, and wrote a song explicitly about politics. It will be dated in a few months, but it is still a pretty good song. Maybe it will get resurrected for the new President every few years.

And a final example is one of my favorite artists of the last decade MARINA, who spent what should have been the second leg of her tour promoting her fourth album, and decided to create a fifth album instead. Her I don’t care if it is popular or not, I’m just doing it for me attitude is obvious on the first released track:

All of these are departures from the usual sound of these artists, and the heartfelt nature of these songs is actually a bit refreshing from the over produced usual stuff.

Art critics would probably call this a return to sincerity (there is a theory that art constantly shifts between irony and sincerity), but I am not sure. Fear and anger and fighting depression is the primary motivator of 2020 art, and while it may appear more sincere, I think it is also designed to be either escapist in nature, or confrontational in nature.

If this is the trend with 2020 produced music, I’ll be very interested to see what happens with 2020 produced novels, TV, movie scripts, and games. Could be a new renaissance of creativity is brewing in all of this.


  • Might also be simply that the music industry’s grip on the artists has been shaken loose by pandemic stuff, which causes them to do whatever they want. I mean, the “corporate influence” on musicians is much stronger when they are stuffed into a recording studio or on tour or in some conference room than when they are in their private homes twiddling their thumbs (“corporate influence” does not need to be in bad faith here. Even in an imaginary perfect music label, there will be someone somewhere running the numbers or there may be some contractors (session musicians, dancers,…) that run up expenses as long as they are needed; the reality of a company grinding on while depending on the performance of the artists will excert a certain amount of pressure on the artists)

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