Why Movies Aren't Art Anymore

January 22, 2018
By thewritebrother GOLD, Powell, Ohio
thewritebrother GOLD, Powell, Ohio
10 articles 0 photos 6 comments

People remember older movies for having adults in mind even if the medium was considered “not art” for a while (though the idea is now basically dead). Many of them are very dialogue heavy compared to the more modern mindless, action filled blockbusters that make it harder to find the good stuff that actually DID come out. Not saying one age’s movies is better than the other, but here’s when I want to acknowledge the sad truth that is the fact that newer forms of media are effectively discriminated against and why.

The first bit is that somewhat younger forms of media don’t have a good track record of their “classics” actually qualifying as “high art”. Action comics #1 popularized comics but it never really struck too much of a chord with critics who were admiring other things. Besides, when it comes to video game “classics”, what made the protagonist of Super Mario Bros. such a unique character? (answer, he is a italian stereotype that appeared in a game that many young players agreed was fun. Keep in mind that Mario is a example, not the vast category that is game protagonist.) Not to mention that attempts to censor media tends to be more sympathizable when you can paint it as a way of protecting children from materials that may negatively affect them. One person with a crusade that seemed to follow such a philosophy was the infamous psychologist Frederick Wretham, who despite having (what I’d consider) honorable contributions, his book “seduction of the innocent” of which accused comics of promoting homosexuality (it was the 1950’s) and violence (a conclusion he came to via images of violences that will always have an audience) alongside other complaints that were both valid and invalid. It is still important to note that he was more concerned with the psychological effects on children (even if he felt that he had to do so by exaggerating the data in his favor) than the idea that comics where a respectable medium and has even considered the creation of fanzines as a healthy practice. Nevertheless, followers of his ideas created the comics code, a non-government-registered stamp of approval that gave retailers a idea on whether or not it would be socially acceptable to sell a comic. It is not hard to associate the code with the how slow bigger publishers dipped their toes into more mature (if not sophisticated) stuff. It is also worth mentioning that comics are heavily associated with superheroes as comics are the medium where they just seem to thrive in. But the fact that you could see their great big spandex suits covering the history of the medium, there WAS a time where you had to keep in mind genre variation when creating comics. There were romances, the gory crime tales that inspired Wretham, cowboys (which were everywhere) and sci-fi tales as well. There used to be titles for EVERYONE (although this mainly applies to america, japan’s comics industry kept this mindset). But alas, a good chunk of us forgot a good chunk of them, and if anything’s wrong with the superhero genre (of which I can’t personally bring myself to not like), it ended up degrading comics into “the superhero medium” in the eyes of the public, not to mention that superheroes tend to be associated with kids a lot while early movies (...again,) are remembered for having adults in mind, and people tend to associate adult with having a better understanding of art while younger demographics are seen as better entertained by “lower” stuff. Though comics do seem to be gaining more respect (along with video games), if not extremely silently.

However, with video games, they have it even harder due their youth, but even if people who object to them being art are just unaware of the more sophisticated examples, I feel it’s wise to address the actual arguments. Many people feel more differently about them due to the interactive nature, the most understandable argument linked to this being the sense of competition tends to be the major factor in many video games. I would also point out that we more rarely consider other games “art”, we never ask study the meaning behind football (please tell me what it is if any), we never ask ourselves “why D&D is a masterpiece of design” (which is probably worth asking) and we don’t talk about how comedic game’s cards to tell jokes is genius (if not super intuitive). Clearly we tend to put more work into video games as works of art seeing they’re the medium that people feel implied to ask if it’s art (of course, some board games try prove themselves, which is admirable). But anyways, addressing the competitive elements of games, I believe that you don’t need to be a “competitive game” to be a gameplay focused one (see Loneliness, a game about loneliness), but as for competitive games, I would think you could use it to create an intense experience so that the player may sympathise with the protagonist in certain situations. Battles are competitive experiences and other mediums deal with violence just fine and they happen all the time in video games (the sophistication and ludonarrative-dissonance-levels of the violence’s implementation vary). There are also other very real human experiences that are competitive too (some of which already captured in game form like running a business in the form of tycoon games). Video games have also been challenged for their violence and the psychological effects this has on children and that is… something that has happened before. Still, despite the fact that there are many games out there that overshadow the more artsy stuff that DOES exist, movies, books and still imagery seem to get out scott-free in the department of mindlessness when being considered art forms more often, even if the mediums kinda turn on themselves...

Youtube revolutionized video access. Of course, in order to make the site profitable, the people running the site put in algorithms that favor new genres of video over more traditional ones. This may make some people view the content as lesser than that of more traditional genres. One of these genres is the “let’s play”, of which some may consider derivative of the game being played, though in the genre’s sorta defense, there is a right way to do it. Namely the Videogamedunkey’s way, basically the gist of his (let’s play) videos is this: he plays a game but it cuts so that you only get the highlights. However people may argue that youtube's genres tend to be lower brow, and while some may argument for mindless fun in general, I will like to point out that whenever you find something funny not because it’s unexpected or “random” (see Nostalgia Critic’s video on “dumb humor”), it’s addressing pain, which means it addressed a human experience and that is what art is for. However other sites may attack the youtube for the fact that some of the users have crossed the line like Logan Paul with the malicious suicide forest exploit and Pewdiepie with the not well thought through Fiverr trolling. Not to mention that there are many clever, educational and/or critical thinking-inspiring channels on the site like Philosophy Tube, Game Theory, TED-ED, Extra Credits and more-or-less occasionally Channel Awesome. It is also worth mentioning that Youtube isn’t as much of a medium than it is a market place so attacks on the site by criticizing the content undermines discussion about how it is revolutionizing the video industry, because that’s what youtube’s hosting on it’s site: videos, and the internet is doing the same to other mediums and their industries (in the form of digital distribution outlets) like comics, music, prose and even new outlets (like the wall street journal...).

But now, the real question is, how do we change people minds about mediums? They are all able to do something other mediums cannot. So that would mean if we agree that promoting the study and recognition of art is a good thing, we should do something about, right? Well, yes, and that’s just promoting the more sophisticated stuff over the mindless fun and looking at media with higher literacy expectations and studying the very media you like to enjoy with a stronger literary eye than a “sane” person would (see Extra Credits’s videos on promoting gaming literacy), as well as keep these mediums form reverting back into mindless fun, and if they’re not, that means they may eventually evolve to something that’ll earn the medium more respect (see Nostalgia Critic’s video on games being art).

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