Sometimes I'm serious.
THE VALUE OF ART
What is art? Something created to be beautiful? Is art music, books, movies, comedy, or pretty pictures often referred to as art? Art may be whatever one personally decides it is.
Art can impact people in profound ways. Shakespeare’s plays are still performed. Depictions of madness created by Dali are still valued. Songs by Bach still captivate people throughout the world.
What is good music? Complex arrangements, pleasant melodies, a significant message, high sales figures, radio airplay, mass media attention, rhythm that practically commands people to dance, anything that brings joy to another, unique and brilliant pieces of artistic merit, or just what one likes?
There’s no way to prove that any music is inherently better than any other. But there are reasons why people pay hundreds of dollars to see Lollapalooza and nothing to see campus kid bands. The fact that someone likes “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” better than “Beethoven’s Fifth” is a personal preference. Neither is inherently better than the other. Many people find ways to creatively incorporate music into their lives. Some people don’t care much about music.
The Spice Girls serve the same function as Jimi Hendrix. Both use auditory compositions to provide a beautiful distraction from the hardships of the world. Both try to uplift people and inspire. I think Hendrix is incredible and the Spice Girls produce mass marketed candy pop. But it’s possible that someone could believe that the Spice Girls are great and Jimi just makes a bunch of psychedelic hippie noise of no value.
For many aspiring musicians it must be depressing to struggle when they know One Direction made more than 1 million times the amount of money on their last trite piece of crap than they have for their entire life of work. But a lot of people buy One Direction products. Aesthetic value can be disputed but economic value is objective.
Books can be proven to have complex structure, correct grammar, or a great deal of content. But the value people assign to books comes from individual judgment. Anyone can value a book like Green Eggs and Ham more than Orwell’s 1984. To me, Green Eggs is a book full of silly rhymes with pretty pictures. 1984 describes the potential dangers of authoritarian political power and thought control. I consider 1984 a masterpiece and Green Eggs and Ham a cute tale that lasts for five minutes.
Any who think Dr. Seuss is superior to Orwell are entitled to their opinion. It’s possible that a portrayal of horror wouldn’t be appreciated by a reader while simple silly rhymes seem great. I think Green Eggs and Ham has value, but I don’t think it’s a crowning cultural achievement. 1984 is a fantastic book that warns about the dark side of humanity for ages, if not for the rest of human history. In literature, some people hate Shakespeare and love Mad Magazine. Any writer may be considered the greatest writer ever, or a dull hack in the eyes of an individual.
It’s possible that a person could consider Encino Man with Pauly Shore a better movie than Citizen Kane. Although most film critics and “cultured” individuals would scoff at the notion, taste is a matter of individual choosing. Some youths may consider Kane dry and uninteresting. Encino Man has moments of juvenile humor that uplifts many viewers. While Citizen Kane may continue to serve as the symbol of what a movie should be for many years, it’s possible that future generations will appreciate the genius of Pauly Shore more.
The greatest film of all-time is subjective. Titanic may have made the most money, but come on. Even teenage girls in 1997 had to know they were jumping on a popularity bandwagon. Star Wars seems to be the most popular movie of all-time among the general American public by my definition. While Star Wars is a decent movie, many people enjoy watching other movies more.
Comedy may be considered art or a goofy distraction. Appreciation for a specific comic is subjective. Bill Hicks is brilliant to me. If someone prefers the comedy of Tim Allen more there’s no way to prove they’re wrong. I feel The Simpsons is the funniest show of all-time. If there are people who believe Saved by The Bell is the finest TV comedy show there’s no way I can prove them wrong.
Ultimately value in art is measured in subjective terms. What one person feels is a work of immaculate artistic design another person may not care for. The quality of any specific art is determined by individuals. There’s no universal standard for an object of beauty.