People are usually pretty open minded about art. As a dead guy said at some point, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Nice. Well, to show that he was totally wrong, here’s a list of ways that my enjoyment of art is wrong.
1. I define art extremely narrowly
When I discuss art, I will cringe if someone says the word “contemporary”. I do not want to see a chalked lines on a garbage bag. Why would you pretend to enjoy it?
I went to a local art museum on campus last weekend and we walked through the whole dumb modern art section. I looked like a crazy person, muttering to myself “Thats not art, thats not art. Oh, thats not even close to art. Thats just some chickenwire with a petrified grapefruit on top. Stop it, artists!”
Oh, I hear your rebuttal: “But Michael, you need to think deeper and think about what it means. Thats whats wrong.”
No. Thats not enjoyable to me. When I look at ‘art’, I want to see a nice oil painting of something concrete.
“But Michaaaaaael, you’re being closed-minded.”
Let me enjoy art the way I want to! You know what, from all of your arguing I’m going to go ahead and make the definition even more narrow: ‘Art’ is paintings and sculptures from anytime before 1900. But one more word from you and I’ll bump that date back a century.
Well, Van Gogh is no longer an artist, thanks to you. Art is now pre-19th century paintings. Cool? Want to argue more? Because just give me the chance and I’ll knock art all the way back to the Renaissance.
2. I enjoy music a lot, but in the wrong way
I could spend this section describing how I refuse to listen to any music thats dissonant, but I imagine a lot of people agree with that, so lets get to a weirder aspect: I don’t listen to lyrics in songs. Well, I know the words… its just that I have no idea what they mean. So I could sing to you the lyrics of the entire Beastie Boys discography or a whole album by Sufjan Stevens, but I couldn’t tell you the meaning of a single song. Whats the point? Musicians are good at creating wonderful sounds, I don’t listen to them for their philosophical views or to hear a story.
Actually, I shouldn’t even try to justify my position. I just naturally don’t pay attention to the meaning of the words when musicians sing. I even think of it as a benefit. People tell me that Elliott Smith’s lyrics are really depressing and suicidal… Thats news to me! I enjoy the hell out of his nice sounding voice and acoustic guitar. Why would I want to get depressed by a heroin addict? I’d rather just ignorantly enjoy his soothing sounds.
“Are you serious? You’re missing out on the most amazing part of music!”
Well, maybe you’re the one missing out! You should listen to the harmonies and the musical arrangments. Thats plenty to appreciate.
“I appreciate the purely aesthetic quality of music as well, I just enjoy the meaning of the song too. What about ‘Tommy’? Don’t you enjoy the story?”
‘Tommy’ is a story?! Whats it about? I’m going to guess its about someone named Tommy…
An astronaut named Tommy!
“You’re the worst.”
Yeah, I’m fine with that.
“But seriously, you enjoy poetry. Can’t you just view songs as sung poetry?”
Nope! I enjoy music solely through the pleasure that the tones bring to my ears. You know what, maybe I am missing out on a lot, but I’m perfectly happy this way. Its like The Beatles said: ‘Live and Let Live!’
“Goddammit! Its ‘Live and let Die’ and its not by The Beatles, its by-”
3. I don’t think anyone approves with how I play video games
Every time I pop a video game into whatever system I happen to be using, I do two things. Firstly, if its adjustable, I will immediately change the settings on the game so that the graphics are at the lowest possible detail. The worst thing that can happen to a game is that it gets slow and laggy as a result of too much processor space spent on graphics. So screw graphics, I’m fine with crappy graphics. If every shooter game looked like the original Halo in 2001, I would be totally fine with that. I just don’t care about the look of a game very much.
So yeah, most people don’t get too upset with that. Its the second part that people hate. When I put in a game, the second thing that I do is mute the television.
“What? Like, for the whole game?”
Yup! I don’t listen to any sounds from a videogame. I put on some music or listen to the radio while I play.
“So the plot-”
Is completely incomprehensible to me! When I play video games, I just enjoy the characters shooting and driving and jumping and stuff. A story is not necessary.
“Well you at least use subtitles right? Or watch cutscenes? Or at least read in game text?!”
Nope, nope, and nope! All of that information is unnecessary to my pleasure. In ‘Red Dead Redemption’-
“You played ‘Red Dead Redemption’ without knowing the plot?! It had one of the greatest stories in video game history.”
I wouldn’t know! I did enjoy killing a bear with a rifle though. That was a ton of fun.
“You can’t properly enjoy games without knowing their stories. Easily, the best game of the 1990’s was ‘Ocarina of Time’. And a large part of that gaming experience was learning the story and enjoying the accompanying music!”
Oh really? Well I managed to have a great experience with ‘Ocarina of Time’ with the sound off and skipping every cutscene. It was a lovely time.
“This conversation is over.”
So yeah, thats my little tirade on art. Basically, my point is: let me enjoy art the way that I enjoy it. If it means a lot to you, then great; just don’t get upset when I don’t take it seriously at all.