Something I feel necessary to preface this discussion with is my own bias. I consider myself – in the most basic way possible – a storyteller and, as such, an artist. I attach a certain amount of significance to these pursuits. They are important to me, as important to me as honesty and Truth.
I also have a background in Postmodern Literature (My thesis was titled Hypertextual Evolution: The Post-Postmodern Hypertext, fictional bonus points to anyone who can translate that.) which generally means I find engaging with the basic building blocks of Art fascinating. There’s a lot more to it than that, but that’s a discussion for another time.
TL;DR, I like Art. I like Art a whole lot. I like Art for it’s own sake, and I enjoy examining the skill that goes into making it.
This leads me into something that is becoming more and more prevalent on the internet – Criticism. With a capital “C”, not just the Youtube comment section. Specifically, pop-criticism of pop-art.
Some of the biggest names on the internet all “review” or engage with art in some form as a huge part of their business model. Many of these exist on Youtube, from react channels, to everyone Channel Awesome spawned, to larger companies and publications eager to take advantage of the marketing potential of the giant platform.
However written criticism hasn’t exactly gone to the wayside, though I fear it’s quality has. I think the way we talk about art has degraded somewhat, diluted by the constant deluge of content on the internet. Though, I’m a little torn.
Personally I tend to take a Formalist approach to Criticism. I tend to judge a creative effort based on it’s own terms: what it’s trying to achieve, and how well it’s achieved it. I think to open criticism past that limit is untenable – it opens the bounds of criticism to anything, for any reason.
I can criticize a table for not being a chair.
But really, I’m just mad I don’t have anywhere to sit.
However, I do think the emotional reaction to a work of art is important. How it makes us feel, whether or not we like it, seems vital. The point of art, if there is one, is communication. To communicate effectively, art needs to resonate. The all-important X-factor.
To use only my criteria, The Room would be an abject failure. Yet, it’s brought so much joy to so many people, to write it off as just that seems not only unfair, but dishonest. It has certainly succeeded, though maybe not the way it was intended to.
What do you guys think about this? Do you think the emotional response, how the work makes you feel, is what is important, or is technical skill everything? Or do you come down somewhere in between, and if so, where do you draw the line?
I’d love to hear from you, and as always, happy reading!