CREATIVITY DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC
The Mother of Inventions
By Trevor K. McNeil
Kick At the Darkness
There is a prevailing theory that times of turmoil lead to an increase in creativity. An idea supported by the warehouse’s worth of material created around the Nixon and George W. Bush administrations. Trump himself has countless examples of opposition in the public sphere. Despite having, so far, been in office half as long as the previous two. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. Aside from the suicidal fools denying the very existence of the virus killing hundreds of thousands around the world, there are three basic approaches to creating in the age of COVID-19. Survive, improve and thrive.
The most high-profile examples of creativity during the pandemic are those that engender a sense of community with each other and defiance against our common enemy. These include the now famous “Patio Concerts” that were started by opera singers in Italy. An idea taken into the digital realm by bands such as Blink-182 and Chvrches. Releasing socially distanced songs and sessions with the members distanced from each other and their fans. A theme filtering into albums, such as The Lockdown Sessions by The Coral. The Daily Show with Trevor Noah has changed its name to The Daily Social Distancing Show. A tactic also adopted by Full-Frontal with Samantha Bee and Conan hosted by Conan O’Brian. Though in O’Brian’s case, rather than being recorded in his home, the production has moved to an empty theater space.
Stronger Than Death
Others have taken the opportunity at self-isolation to really focus on their work. A tradition stretching back to Shakespeare who wrote King Lear under lockdown during a different outbreak and The Marquis De Sade, who worked under lockdown of a different kind. Having spent much of his life in prison or asylums. Standouts from the modern crop of self-isolated work include How I’m Feeling Now by Charli XCX and Folklore by Taylor Swift.
Lives Pulled Apart
Of the two, How I’m Feeling Now resonates most with the times. While pandemic and its effects aren’t mentioned by name, this only makes the effect all the more potent. While her work has always been urgent, songs like “Pink Diamond” have a raging, desperate, tiger-pacing-in-a-cage aspect to them. Gentler tracks like “I’ll Love You Forever” have a tinge of tragedy. Strongly implying lives pulled apart by isolation, lockdowns and death, yet still with a glimmer of hope. Love being stronger than death.
Clear Blue Sky
I’m not sure what happened to Taylor Swift while under self-isolation but I’m glad it did. Anyone familiar with my previous work won’t be surprised that I’m not the biggest fan of pop music. Particularly in terms of overproduced, corporate products. Folklore is the anti-matter of that. Released without promotion and recorded in self-isolation just months after her 30th birthday, Folklore is a huge step forward.
Wow, She’s Good
Swift having the time and focus to do her best work and sweet Thor in Asgard is it good! The raw talent only glimpsed previously, now on full show. The album is categorized as “Alternative” which, while vague, is the perfect way to describe this befuddling experience. Veering from the darkly bouncy “The Last American Dynasty” to Hozier-levels of poetic melancholy on “Exile” to the delicious word play on “The Lakes.” A bonus track which evokes the Romantic poets better than any song in recent memory.
Get Your Passes!
The pandemic also hasn’t been able to keep cultural events down. While some, like the San Diego ComicCon have been cancelled for the first time in decades, others have found new ways to exist. The Chelsea Flower Show, a major event in London often attended by The Queen, has gone online. Video tours of this year’s displays available on their event’s website. The Toronto International Film Festival, one of the oldest film festivals in North America on par with Cannes, has done something similar. Film buffs can see every film that was going to be shown in this year’s festival by buying a single digital-pass. Not only making the whole experience cheaper but a lot more accessible to those unable to get to Toronto for whatever reason.