Friday, October 10, 2008

Nuking the fridge

Art is, at its root, a collaborative effort between artist and audience. Creators extend a work into the world, and other people reach out to grab onto some part of it. Some of the audience will grasp it with both hands. Others will catch a single rung and hang on for the ride. A few will look at the work quizzically and conclude that it's a large plate of spaghetti, and thus it isn't fit to be used as a handhold. Every viewer re-authors the work for his own mind, finding a place for it (if there's room) in his own point of view.

And this is why appreciating creative works is a skill unto itself, with its own hurdles and pitfalls that have to be dealt with.

1. There is a difference between something that's "bad" and something that you, personally, don't like. Realizing that is difficult enough, learning to tell the difference is even harder. And it's made more difficult by . . .

2. You don't have to defend your likes/dislikes. People will want you to defend your preferences because many of them don't understand #1. They assume that, if you don't like something that they enjoy, then you think it is "bad" and that they are therefor "stupid" for liking it. (Mind you, these people are often stupid, just not for that reason.) All this being said: No, I don't like Homestar Runner. I don't think it's funny. And I'm tired of getting crap about it.

3. If you don't like something, walk away from it. You'd think this would be easy, but it really isn't. Sometimes you've heard so much about a book being good that you keep reading it long after you've lost interest. Or you'll watch the rest of a movie that you find boring simply because it seems like the kind of thing you usually enjoy.

Or, as was the case with Metal Gear Solid 2, I'd spent so much time following the game's development that my mind simply wouldn't accept that it wasn't awesome. This delusion persisted even after I was tasked with defeating a very large man on rollerblades who threw sticks of dynamite at me. (That is NOT a joke, it is literally something from the game.)*

Grinding your way through a work that you don't like is terrible for you. It makes you disenchanted with the medium, and is generally a waste of your lesiure time.

*This also explains why I walked out of every Star Wars Episode 1-3 movie thinking that it was "alright," and didn't realize it was bad until I woke up the next morning in a cloudy, sickened haze. You know, they should have really put a fat guy on rollerblades IN Star Wars Episode 1. I mean if you're going to screw it up that bad, you might as well go crazy!

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