Thursday, 20 November 2008

But Is It Art?

I'd just thought I'd take a moment for a wee bit of philosophizing.

A member of a writer's forum I belonged to asked about the difference between "art" and "hack" work done only for money. Well, I think that even hack work is art, all creative human endeavour is art, sure 95% is crap, but it's still art. The only division I really see is between well done art, and poorly done art.

A lot of people like to poo-poo on certain books, and films, especially genre fiction and movies as "hack work" and not "art." That's just snobbery said by people who call their coffee "vente mocha-lattes" and still think the Sundance Film Festival is relevant to anyone outside of Hollywood. The most common argument they use is that "such & such was just done for the money," well I say, so what?

Shakespeare didn't write so that high school students could be forced to speak Elizabethan English centuries after his death, he wrote so he could sell tickets to people by telling the best stories in the best way he can.

Does his motivation somehow negate his "art?"

Not in my universe.

The reasons why someone made a film or wrote a novel don't really matter to me. The matter is the end result. Is it good? Does it entertain? Does it make one think? Those are the questions one has to ask when evaluating a film.

Now there are times when someone goes too far, aiming solely for sales because of some trend or fad, instead of a desire to win by telling the best story the best way they could, and while they're still art, they lack that certain something. I'm not saying that such projects are doomed to fail, most do, but some do succeed, but they just don't have the "legs" of truly great art. The rapidly become dated, an artifact illustrating just how silly and tacky the people of past really were, but unable to make that all important emotional connection that will take them through the ages.

That's my opinion.


  1. I knew you weren't a hack. Glad to see you know it too.

  2. As usual, I agree with you 100%. But I have a quibble with your portrayal of those who dislike something because it was "hack" work.

    Please don't confuse those whose tastes run towards the arty-farty with genuine snobs. If someone declares that they didn't like The Dark Knight, it could be that they are a stuck-up twit, or it could be that their taster is set for something subtler.

    Other than that, keep preachin' the gospel. To paraphrase Duke Ellington: If the movie looks good, it is good.