THE BLOG
06/06/2010 12:33 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Art: M.I.A.

Why the hell shouldn't James Cameron be the guy to fix the Gulf disaster?

Maverick imagineer, creator of worlds, dogged pursuer of technical excellence, possessor of a massive ego -- he has what many of the scientists who worked on The Manhattan Project had. And instead of watching passively as his country is led to inevitable ruin by disaster-capitalist corporations, he is using his entrepreneurial/creative gifts to solve what the red-tape bound bureaucracy cannot.

And allowed to prevail, he just might succeed. The key is not his wealth, ego or access. It is his creativity.

It is that single element -- creativity -- which has been missing in America's business and political landscape, the reason why its students aren't faring as well as their international counterparts, why our media aims lower and lower, why we lag behind in math, science and language skills worldwide. The art is gone.

Funding for the arts in our schools has been decimated. And people wonder why our students are dropping out and graduation rates are falling? One might as well take yeast away from a baker and wonder why the bread doesn't rise.

The fact that arts and sports programs have been marginalized in public education demonstrates that the folks in charge were themselves perhaps somehow discouraged from exercising their own creative impulses when young. For these people, happiness is measured in cold profit, with no long-lasting application of the success they might have achieved had they access to creative expression.

The failure of No Child Left Behind is a glaring example, with students being taught merely to test well without any thought to life beyond their schools' receiving federal funding based on performance, and no practical application in the workplace and the competitive world they are entering. It is a program conceived and executed by people for whom art seems to have had little or no personal value.

And when profit undercuts the pulchritude, even the beautifully-designed gizmos which saturate our culture and induce mass drooling lose their potential to have a meaningful, long-lasting impact (*cough* iPhone *cough*). In fact, they are built to fail, a hallmark of the dead-end intellect.

Without art, all things take on a dull, disposable cast. The physicalization of learning through artistic expression is essential; experiential education makes for a deeper, more profound impact on individuals and society. And better scientists, teachers, economists, engineers, doctors, street sweepers, cooks... in other words, a better, more productive, more profitable citizenry.

So the question is, if James Cameron -- or people like him -- wants to help solve a major crisis which seems unmanageable by the current crop of artless experts, then who are a bunch of unimaginative dead-enders like BP to stand in his way?

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