The definition of art is "the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance." That's dictionary.com's definition not mine. Moreso, art is "any field using the skills or techniques of art". Again... dictionary.com.
I prefer a more broad definition. I consider art to be "anything that can be physically created through the merger of intelligence and imagination". Somebody call the dictionary people... Feel free to put that quote anywhere you like.
Because art is often the creation of a lone individual, it does not cater to all tastes. We all differ psychologically, often as much as we differ in our physical appearance. No two people look identical; no two people think identically. For myself, to assume that because one person (or many people) liked something, I will in fact like the same thing, is delusional. Dif'rent strokes for dif'rent folks, as they say. No two tastes are identical, and this is what makes the world of 'art' great. Differing opinions incite conversation - something which is sorely lacking in todays world of infinite impersonal interconnection. Social media has begun to destroy the "art" of social interaction and conversation. And yes, I do consider conversation an art, as it requires as much creativity to do well, as anything considered traditional art. Yet people still find the time to offer their opinions to the world, often in a manner that is ignorant and hurtful. We don't talk anymore, but we sure love for people to hear us.
The reason I chose this topic as the subject of my blog post today is that I witnessed a very brief conversation on Twitter last night in which an author was promoting his new book, which is very highly rated on Amazon. He was then confronted by a bearded gentleman (I'm being nice, here) - who's twitter photo looks sort of like Joaquin Pheonix in in his crazy days, with a little less hair on top - with this remark.
Joaquin: People post that they like a book, but have no concept of books as a craft or artistic medium.
Hemingway: Who exactly are you to judge what other people enjoy? I mean, what are your credentials exactly?
Joaquin: MFA, Ph.D, and a healthy understanding of how a populace only consuming low-brow entertainment are dragging down our society.
He actually used the non-word "draging" in that last post. Don't worry, I corrected that for you, Mr. Ph.D. I kid... But in all seriousness...
As people, we like what we like, and we understand what fits that criteria, but to hold our opinions above someone else's is not only ignorant, it is flat out wrong. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and to call an individuals creative output a 'piece of shit', all the while acknowledging that hundreds or thousands of people enjoyed it, simply shows that the critic holds himself to a higher regard than your average reader (in this case).
The worst thing about my writing this is that I somewhat agree with Mr. Ph.D. I will be the first to admit that I (To borrow a quote from Richard Roma) subscribe to the law of contrary popular opinion; Whatever the popular concensus is, do the opposite. This is not because I have any direct issues with the works themselves (In this instance I am referring moreso to films). The world of popular film, or Hollywood as some would call it, is spearheading a discouraging trend that can also be seen very often in music. We've gotten into the habit of rewarding artistic creators for a lack of creativity. What we're saying, essentially, is "Take this movie that was already made... and make it again." Why? Because it makes money. Truly creative people unfortunately have to fight tooth and nail to have their original work seen, because there's simply no desire to produce original works within the Hollywood system, simply because profit is not guaranteed.
Books are a different sort of animal entirely. Luckily, we don't see 'remakes' in this format, per se (Can you imagine someone just up and deciding they want to rewrite Moby Dick, I cringe at the thought). Fortunately, literature as an industry, has a thriving, if not particularly profitable, independent scene in which any idea can flourish. Getting people to read your written ideas is very difficult, but certainly not impossible. The sheer amount of independent authors, however, lends itself to a high volume that expose themselves as lacking the necessary understanding of the medium and skill to properly develop their stories. But every single one of them has my utmost respect, whether I like their work or not.
I understand the desire to express your distaste for something that you don't like; I've reviewed films for the past 6 years, and have seen my share of what I would consider stinkers. It's a tricky tightrope you have to walk to offer your opinions responsibly and intelligently, and I'm certain that I've been guilty of writing some derogatory comments toward a film or two in my day - it's human nature. We have a natural inclination to think "I didn't like it, so it must not be good," but this is not the case. We all interpret things differently and are entertained by different things. As a film critic, I can offer you my opinion, but offering a remark that simpy suggests a work "sucks" is both irresponsible critique, and disrespectful to its creator, who has, in all likelihood, put their entire being into whatever it is that they created.
They deserve a fair chance to be seen, read, or otherwise enjoyed by anyone interested. Not you, nor I, nor anyone has the right to try to take that away. Even the very worst creative output is a discussion piece, and any excuse to converse with another human being is one that I will openly embrace.
With that in mind I point you to our review of "Let the Right One In", a review which had our readers avidly discussing the film's merit.