Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Criticism and Popular Media

Made the following comment on a Discord and people seemed to like it so here is Blursed Sontag to give you a cultural think;

"I had great fun playing Bioshock and my response to it and to its criticism was very typical of my response to the bourgeoisie create/criticise cycle which I will now lay out for you AT LENGTH

FIRST - Someone makes a good example of a low-status artform. (action movie, video game (in the past) - this is good and it often has a dab of philosophy in it BUT - the dab of philosophy is not the main reason it is good. The source of its goodness is often something beautiful but only intuited by the player integration and synthesis of space, form, character, some combination of things bourgeoisie critics find it hard to analyse and talk about (to be fair, these things are actually hard to analyse.)

SECOND - these middle class critics watch/play this thing, and they really enjoy themselves, and they find it fulfilling. But they can't sense WHY exactly they find it fulfilling, (because in a coherent work of art it is actually hard to tell what is good about it as good art brings together in harmony many slight things)

SO - they feel 'this is good', but 'its also low status', so they try to do the right thing and say "Hey everyone! This piece of culture is actually good, it has PHILOSOPHY or a POLITICAL POINT, it is about THE CONVERSATION.

Now in fact, the political and/or philosophical element of the work is usually only one slight strand and not the main thing about it, and its usually not like a fucking leap in thought, it usually comes from books someone wrote 30 years ago - because this is a popular art form and why the fuck would you make it a thesis statement?

THEN - some clever wag notices and points out - "Hey, the PHILOSOPHY" in this piece of POPULAR ART is actually kinda DUMB. Maybe your are dumb and it is also dumb"

Then the Critic and fans respond saying "no actually we are not dumb and maybe you thinking we are is because you are actually the dumb one hmmm?"

And the wheel goes on

Anyway, judging interesting but flawed pieces of mass popular art by the fragments of 'high culture' theorising they sometimes contain is usually a broke ass way to either validate or invalidate them.

Case in point - Joker - a not bad dance movie about a man having a meltdown. Does it have a strong political point to make? Does it fuck. But it is still a pretty good film.

There endeth my rant.


  1. Literally rewatched Joker two days ago. The dancing was the only thing I paid attention to. It’s good! By far the best part. So I agree with you 100 percent — it’s a pretty good dance movie, plus it has some other stuff.

  2. Not all entertainment has to be Great Art- sometimes, it's fine to make or enjoy things that are just meant to be fun.

  3. People just need to update their definition of the word "Art". Video games have artistic qualities BESIDES their music, graphics, writing, and the like. Gameplay systems, balance, UI, all that kind of stuff is art. Or if you think "Art" is too loaded of a word, then just consider it "good design that is worth rating something on".

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