September 29, 2009

Art vs. Entertainment

I've spent the last few years crafting a hard-nose, cynical stance on entertainment for entertainment's sake. Part of it is meant as an indictment of pop-culture and the brainless shits I encounter in my meanderings. The other part I attribute to years of church indoctrination that seems to hang around my subconscious--even when I do my damnedest to rebuke it. It's not a perfect stance, but it generates the appropriate amount of misery to suit my temperament--which obviously is not shared by everyone around me.

Over sushi, a most-astute friend mentioned her enjoyment of horror films--how she simply loves the exhilaration associated with feeling scared shitless. This came after I pontificated about how I loathed art being abused solely for entertainment. Her response, though simplistic in its delivery, is actually kind of complex. Defining entertainment and art requires more time than I can muster. But what really matters is that her statement actually negates my hard-ass opinions. Aesthetic experience? Probably not. But she's experiencing something similar, perhaps--and from a schlocky horror film.

I don't think I can make such a clean break between art and entertainment; they are too intertwined. I can merely ascribe adjectives like shitty, pathetic, mundane to particular pieces (a device I take from another friend). But to completely brush entertainment off as superficial devalues an experience too similar to the aesthetic response I might have to something more commonly considered art.

Something I had to ruefully acknowledge last night after watching-and enjoying-the latest Wolverine movie.


Gori77a said...

Wow. Double wow: Wow Wow.
I was with you, pal, ticket purchased, seat by the window - I was picking up what you were putting down, and then... Wolverine?
To quote a friend of mine:


harpoon said...

Personally, I struggle with the very definition of the word 'art'. Raising a child is an art; so is making sone get scared watching a movie, I figure. Art is all around us but maybe art is really defined as something that someone created.

And of course, there's no art without criticism.

Harry Tournemille said...

Jas - Yeah, I was surprised by that too. The film ended and I found myself grinning at how preposterous it all was. I was entertained.

Harp - I don't see raising a child as an art-form, though I know many call it such. The word "art" is bandied about a little to loosely for my liking, ascribed to too many things. But I agree completely that art cannot exist without criticism--and a few other parameters. The question is (for me), what does it mean for something to be "art"? What is it supposed to conjure in the recipient or viewer?

harpoon said...

Art is bandied about too loosely for sure but it can subconsciously warp one's perception sooner or later. Especially with some of the pretentious douchebags out there who make self-serving 'art'.

I've struggled with what makes something 'art' for years, I just gave up and avoid the word at this point.

Harry Tournemille said...

Yeah, the word is so overused, I regret every time I bring it up.

You'd think I'd learn by now.

Sam said...

Great post.

What about Alien, the Thing, Nosferatu? All horror films, all art.