Sunday, April 25, 2010

Good/bad, not art/not-art

We touched on this in the new Insophisticate podcast about Roger Ebert's trollish videogames post, but I don't feel like I explained this point very well, so I'm going to make another run at it.

I am against the aesthetic view that writes out of art the art that isn't very good. In other words, a movie like The Godfather is art while, you know, Little Man is not just bad art, it's actually not-art.

The reason I don't think that's right is that it is too narrow a view of art. If "art" only means "successful art," then 99.9999 percent of the creative product out there is excluded, and that doesn't seem right to me. I think the better way to look at this is just to allow for really broad categories of good and bad art.

I also happen to think that the "art/not-art" school of aesthetic classification places too much power into the hands of, well, critics and tastemakers. It's not exactly that quality is a subjective thing (it really isn't), it's that it's complex and has a lot of different aspects to it. And it changes over time, as stuff that was universally derided or dismissed turns out to be lauded later and vice versa.

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