Sunday, May 15, 2011

It's art, idiot.


Art.
I was talking to a good friend of mine on Skype the other day, and we got on to the subject of art.  He asked me, “why do people think that art has to be entertaining?”  That’s a pretty deep fucking question especially coming from an artist.
Think about it.  American society is all about entertainment.  The common idiot-talk of the day is that everything should have some sort of entertainment value to it, or people just don’t pay attention to it.  How many people would rather skip an opera to go to an action flick instead?  How many people would rather watch the movie based on a book rather than read the book itself?

Not art.
How many movies these days actually have any content to them?  Take Avatar for example.  That film was retardedly successful, and it has about as much content as Sarah Palin’s skull.  I mean just think about the premise itself: humans are trying to get some sort of metal ore called “unobtainium,” by fucking over some blue, tribal aliens.  Unobtainium?  Really?  James Cameron thinks you’re so stupid that he has to explicitly name the intent of his bullshit.

For those who saw Avatar, did you at all feel insulted?  Probably not, because you were way too busy being entertained.  So what real content did Avatar have to it?  That we should be more understanding of native peoples in their natural habitats?  How vacuous can one movie be for fuck sake?!  And, to top it off, it won all sorts of awards and shit.

Art.
Compare Avatar to something like Wozzeck, or Les Miserables.  Hell, compare it to something far less obscure: The Watchmen.  The Watchmen didn’t get very flattering reviews, and I almost guarantee that it’s secretly because the dip shits reviewing the film simply just didn’t get it.  It was a super-hero film, so that meant that it had to be entertaining.  Instead, it actually tried to say something real about humanity.  It actually had content, and it suffered at the box office for it.

“But Jack, when you see a fine work of art, aren’t you entertained by it?”  HTNS, do I have to be entertained by something to like it, or to appreciate it?  Do you even understand what it means to appreciate something?  To be entertained is synonymous with being amused.  And not all art amuses me.  Some art makes me sad.  Some art makes me feel indignant.  Some art makes me long for a distant love.  Much of it is far from entertaining, because that’s not the point.  And that’s not to say that art can’t be entertaining.  It’s fine if you’re entertained by it, but that’s not the purpose of art.

Not art.
Artists don’t create art for the sake of making you feel good, or to escape your life.  They create art to do the opposite.  Good art shows you something about the human experience that you may not understand.  How many of you know what it’s like to seriously consider suicide because your world has come crashing to your feet (Javert)?  How many of you know what it’s like for your wife to cheat on you and despise your existence (Wozzeck)?  Who gets that everything is just a god damned joke (The Commedian)?

Sure, entertainment has a place, and not all of it is devoid of content.  But art goes beyond making you feel good.  The purpose of art is to make you feel as human as possible, and maybe, just maybe give you something far more valuable than watching some half naked, blue alien chick.

5 comments:

Silverfiddle said...

We think everything is about entertainment. That's how Obama ended up president. We're not that far from Idiocracy.

Harrison said...

It is free market... fluff sells. Good movies are entertaining but interesting, too (like Hurt Locker).

Avatar was technically done well but the plot was just an Iraqi-war steal their oil the US is bad take off which I found insulting.

KP said...

"How many people would rather watch the movie based on a book rather than read the book itself?"

In my view, no (or very few) movies can do justice to the original book. For any readers who have not discovered this -- jump in! You will be so glad you did. I recall reading a novel out loud with my girlfriend (now wife of 25 years). We took turns until we were tired over a couple days. It was romantic.

"How many of you know what it’s like to seriously consider suicide because your world has come crashing to your feet (Javert)? How many of you know what it’s like for your wife to cheat on you and despise your existence (Wozzeck)? Who gets that everything is just a god damned joke (The Commedian)?"

My guess is that far too many of us know what it is like to experience these feelings. As I see it, and you may to, many of us fail to realize we are not unique in our suffering. Suffering is a common thread among us. Art assists by adding context to what it means to be human.

Anonymous said...

I had 2 issues with avatar
1. it was just live action "fern gully" if you remember that film.
2. robots with knives? fuck that. chainsaws, light sabers some other mele weapon... but knives?
+ why in the FUCK would you put something in a robots HANDS mount it to the wrist... make it spring loaded...
requireing that a robotic hand hold it during combat is a point of failure.. it could get knocked out.


/end rant

~Smitty

Jack Camwell said...

Sorry I took till today to respond fellas.

I agree with everything oyou all have said. The purpose of art is to help us feel our own humanity as well as give us a way to experience emotions that we may never have to first hand.

And just to be clear, entertainment does have a place and value in society. I just don't like the fact that people think that art HAS to be entertaining, or that that's the purpose of art.