Last year, someone asked me what I thought about the Burning Man festival, and I said that even though it is still wildly popular, we were watching its demise unfold in front of us. After reading Degen Pener’s article in The Hollywood Reporter, I am more convinced that I am correct in my analysis.
Industry “Burners” from Brad Falchuk to Dana Brunetti discuss the boundary-pushing wild festival in the desert, where inhibitions give way to abandon (drugs: yes; pants: optional), artists do extraordinary installations and the rich (of course) threaten tradition with private chefs, $10,000 tents and air conditioning.
This is a typical cycle that artists face. They create cool, free-spirited spaces, but eventually, the wealthy move in and try to co op things. The downward spiral is usually the same, because the influx of wealth drives up the price of the space, whether it is rent, or in the case of Burning Man, fees,.
The end result is that the very people that created the thing are driven out by social or economic factors. My comment last year was, “A festival of free expression dies with corporate sponsorships.” Burning Man used to be a festival of art and free expression.
Now it is more an event of pretentious self-absorbed wealthy assholes with their “private chefs, $10,000 tents and air conditioning.”
There was a time when I wanted to go, and that time was a decade ago.