"Art is to make a statement, not for entertainment"

During one of my discussion sessions for a class I have, we had a brief discussion on what makes something art. One of my classmates there said that "art is to make a statement, not for entertainment."

Now, I'm not really certain what makes art "art," but for some reason that statement just doesn't sit right with me. I don't necessarily think that the quality of being entertaining and the quality of being "art" are mutually exclusive. I mean, surely something that's "art" can still be entertaining, right?

What do you guys think of this statement?

If you're just trying to make a statement about something then why can't you just "say" it?

My opinion on this topic is pretty much the exact opposite of that statement actually, that being that "art" dosen't need to have any point to it at all. It's just art.

Of course it can be about something if that's what was intended by the artist or if there's something people perceive in it but it's not what defines it.

Art is a creative expression of an idea. To say art is not for entertainment is to say a rectangle cant be a square. Sure when you think of a rectangle, you don't think of a square, but all squares are rectangles. Translated, all entertainment is art, but not all art is entertaining.

Ofcourse people who argue what is and is not art forget that simply being art does not make something of high quality. Good and bad art both exist.

What is art? The eternal question.

Is there a statement in Van Gogh's Starry Night or the Mona Lisa? Maybe there is, I'm no critic, but I'm sure most art is created for the purpose of looking pretty, unless there's a hidden agenda to all those landscape and still life pencil sketches.

Art tends to be best explained as 'intentionally indeterminate' Any academic undertaking to properly scientifically explain what it exactly is always falls short, like that famous statement that runs along the lines of true art is that which is created neither for public acclaim or profit, resulting in the conclusion that the truest form of art is anonymous toilet graffiti.

Interpretation matters most. "Statement" could mean "expression"; "entertainment" could reflect an intent by an artist to appease an audience. If an artist's source is even moderately about seeking to entertain people without inner feelings, I'd question the integrity of the artist. That's closer to developing a product with marketable value rather than creative expression.

It's within this discussion that you can point to ways that art is becoming more entertainment than expression:
http://tinyurl.com/o3xdo8s

Gender bias film ratings. As if art didn't already need to cope with strong aversions to violence or so much as side-boob in a film, now it's about actually regulating characters in a film. This is entertainment undermining art, and demonstrates how we need to be mindful of what those two words really mean.

I think I am inclined to agree with the statement, but I think about 80% (Maybe 90%) of media and entertainment does make values statement of sorts. I mean look at Twilight or rap music video's about guns, bitches and bling. You may not consider them to be "art", but never the less they make statements and espouse values- intentionally or unintentionally, which if you accept this premise make them art.

The real, more important question I think is not wherever something is art or not (because I would say most things are) but wherever it is good art.

Something that is entertaining may be art, but odds are good if entertainment is the main goal that the quality of the product will be diminished.

Rather than using this as a springboard to debate the definition of art, however, I think it's more useful discuss which works are of quality. It doesn't take much talent or work to create art, but creating something worth preserving for time, that's something else again.

Well, if it entertains me, I must admit I'm more likely to spend money on it than if it merely states something. Having both is a bonus, though.

I feel as if you are making a mountain out of a molehill. This was launched as an experiment in four theatres in Sweden. The rating itself says nothing about the actual quality of the film, as indicated by the following extract:

"To get an "A" rating, a movie must pass the so-called 'Bechdel' test, which means it must have at least two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man."

That's the extent of it. It's up to you and other movie-goers to decide whether your potential enjoyment of a film hinges on that one factor alone.

I think it's really difficult to define what is and what is not art. I do however think that there are at least two conditions that need to be fulfilled:

1) It has to have been made with the intention of being art.
2) The majority of the viewers have to consider it to be art.

That is, it doesn't matter how much you think something is art, if it was not made with the intention to be art, it simply is not. If a film was made primarily as entertainment or to simply make money, it is not art, no matter how art-like it is. Sport normally is not art since it's not the primary intention, but sport CAN be used in a work of art.

Likewise, if you make something you think is art and people just don't agree, then it is not art either.

Make sense?

Art needs to have a message of some kind, at least according to my definition.
The message might well be 'the world is beautiful', though.

AgedGrunt:

It's within this discussion that you can point to ways that art is becoming more entertainment than expression:
http://tinyurl.com/o3xdo8s

Gender bias film ratings. As if art didn't already need to cope with strong aversions to violence or so much as side-boob in a film, now it's about actually regulating characters in a film. This is entertainment undermining art, and demonstrates how we need to be mindful of what those two words really mean.

I don't get your point.

Examining gender-bias is a separate thing, and it can be used to judge the artistic value as well. (If the movie for example has very cliched and 'safe' gender-portrayals made mainly to appeal to some demographic.)
Bad portayals of women are often the result of bad writing, like putting in a female character just for a love-interest, and not making her an actual character with motivations of her own.

Art imitates or expresses life in some form or another.
Entertainment made for entertainment's purpose is pandering, and serves no purpose other than short bursts of self-fulfillment.

Art can entertain, that is for sure. But it's not made with the purpose to entertain. It's made with the purpose to evoke thoughts, emotions, all sorts of stuff.

Barbas:
This was launched as an experiment in four theatres in Sweden. The rating itself says nothing about the actual quality of the film... It's up to you and other movie-goers to decide whether your potential enjoyment of a film hinges on that one factor alone

It's not merely an experiment when a film festival and cable network hopped on-board with the idea (the latter blocked out a special day to run only qualifying "A" rated films).

And it's disingenuous to state that this rating leaves it up to the audience to decide. If people were left to judge for themselves (as it should be) then this system is totally unnecessary. This isn't about critiquing art as "entertainment", it's an absurd, objective litmus test that cannot be taken seriously.

Lieju:
Examining gender-bias is a separate thing, and it can be used to judge the artistic value as well. (If the movie for example has very cliched and 'safe' gender-portrayals made mainly to appeal to some demographic.) Bad portayals of women are often the result of bad writing, like putting in a female character just for a love-interest, and not making her an actual character with motivations of her own.

It's one thing to critique art, but a film rating is not a critical review of a subject. Bias is anything but objective and demands critical thinking, something people seem convinced is unnecessary and can be determined for them by a simple rule.

It's fair to make a story in which best friends and a third wheel, merely playing a love-interest, comes between them without developing other motivations.

Notice how I didn't inject gender into the example; we're not supposed to be prejudiced.

I prefer art that has a statement, symbolism is one of my favourite things to study. It is a completely false statement though. Does the Mona Lisa or any of Rembrandt's work state anything? They are beautiful portraits yes, some of the most well renowned pieces in the world, yet they have no meaning unless the viewer fabricates one.

I suppose if you are the snooty hipster type who only view movies like Requim for a Dream or Hard Candy as art, or slap on your own meanings to pieces so the world can fit your exaggerated pretentious view of art. In that scenario, the statement is correct.

That statement is completely false. Art can be anything. It can be made to express an opinion, make a statement. It can be made to entertain. It can be made so that it has been made, or so that it exists.

And really, the definition of art is such a weird philosophical topic. So whoever said art isn't meant to entertain has a very, very narrow view of what art can be and is.

Yeah, no

Art can make a statement, and/or it can be for entertainment. It could even do neither. Frankly, the definition of art is so broad that anything made with aesthetics of some kind in mind qualifies. Which in turn means that almost everything ever made is artistic to some degree.

Now, people can argue about which forms of art are more pure than others. If you could force me into actually participating in such an annoying discussion, I would even agree that art made with entertainment primarily in mind is likely to be less of a true expression of the artist. But the person referenced in the OP is getting heavily into "no true Scotsman" territory here.

Art is whatever the Hell it wants to be. To try and define it so singularly like that is impossible.

Well music is art and it's entertaining as hell while having a message (sometimes).

I think I understand your friends theory, but at it's absolute peak, I think art can be both at the same time.

I tend to go by two of the dictionary's definitions:

1: The conscious production or arrangement of sounds, colors, forms, movements, or other elements in a manner that affects the sense of beauty, specifically the production of the beautiful in a graphic or plastic medium.
2: The product of these activities.

Now, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So art can still be plenty of things with that definition.

Here's an example of something I DON'T think of as art: Taking a selfie in the bathroom mirror and posting it somehwere to show off your new hair/clothes/etc. You didn't do it because you thought you looked pretty. Stop lying. You did it to show it off to others and get some positive attention.

Here's an example of something I DO think of as art: A simple photograph of your pet. Sure, it's just about the lowest quality art, imo. But you saw your pet, and decided that you wanted to capture that moment so you could look at it again, or let others look at it. In other words, you found it beautiful in one way or form.

Of course my definition is flawed. And I may not always keep to it myself. But that's the thing with 'art'. Every attempt to properly define what art is throughout the centuries, has failed. And I'm not claiming to be some messiah that figured it all out. It's just what I think of art.

All art makes a statement. It doesn't matter if it was intended, doesn't matter if it was received, and doesn't matter if the statement received was the statement intended - at the end of the day, it makes a statement.

If you'll forgive me for using anime examples, RahXephon intended to make a statement, and whatever it was it completely failed to reach me. Code Geass had no intention of making any kind of statement, but by god it made one to me. And (for a non-anime example), the message of everything by Ray Bradbury I've read has sent to me a different message than what he intended.

That aside, it seems like a bit of an odd position to take - although not quite as odd as the "art for art's sake" position - and demonstrates very little knowledge of art of any kind. You only need to take a cursory glance through the films look at in Kyle Kallgren's Brows Held High to see that some of them were created to make statements and some weren't, and there were good and bad in both categories, even though they're all "arthouse" films (hooray for words that don't mean things!). One could even go so far as to argue that the defining feature of art is that it does not make a statement.

AgedGrunt:
snip

You may not be aware - I say with a jaw-droppingly unnecessary amount of sarcasm - but films already receive ratings. This is no different, except that, unlike the meaningless ratings on violence and sexual content which already exist, these ratings serve a purpose.

I don't even fucking care at this point if something is art or not. This discussion needs to be shot in the head, as far as I'm concerned.

If I enjoy a game or other entertainment product, I enjoy it. I genuinely don't care what anyone else thinks of it at this point. There was a time that I used to, but heck, it just felt so goddamn pretentious.

Art is made for whatever purpose the artist made it for.

Art is a word. It's a vibration of the air. (And it's not even that.) I don't know why so many people slash their wrists arguing over "what art is" because they're just arguing semantics as far as I can tell. "Okay, I concede, Mozart's Requiem isn't art." Is it somehow diminished? "I win the argument, Lady Gaga is art." Does the "in" club now get diluted? Does Lady Gaga have to sit next to Mozart at the awards ceremony? Eew. Can't have that. You're out of the "art" group. We could have two equal words instead, or ten words, but we have one and it has to fit what we deem worthy.

If you want to argue over what's art, just realize you're simply arguing about what's printed in the dictionary, not reality.

AgedGrunt:

Barbas:
This was launched as an experiment in four theatres in Sweden. The rating itself says nothing about the actual quality of the film... It's up to you and other movie-goers to decide whether your potential enjoyment of a film hinges on that one factor alone

It's not merely an experiment when a film festival and cable network hopped on-board with the idea (the latter blocked out a special day to run only qualifying "A" rated films).

And it's disingenuous to state that this rating leaves it up to the audience to decide. If people were left to judge for themselves (as it should be) then this system is totally unnecessary. This isn't about critiquing art as "entertainment", it's an absurd, objective litmus test that cannot be taken seriously.

Bechel test doesn't necessarily tell whether a movie is sexist or not (it is useful in epic movies with a big cast and lot of dialogue, like LOTR, which is a clear indication of sexism, not surprising considering when the books were written.), but what is your issue with that rating system, exactly?

I have my problems with the common rating system used for movies, but only if it limits the rights of the audience, especially based on arbitrary things. (Like underage kids not being allowed to see the movie because it has cursing.)

This whole point is moot, though, considering this is totally off-topic and you only brought it up because there aren't enough sexism-threads on the Escapist. How does this rating turn it into a matter of entertainment?

AgedGrunt:

It's one thing to critique art, but a film rating is not a critical review of a subject. Bias is anything but objective and demands critical thinking, something people seem convinced is unnecessary and can be determined for them by a simple rule.

It's fair to make a story in which best friends and a third wheel, merely playing a love-interest, comes between them without developing other motivations.

It is a sign of bad writing, though, if the love-interest has no characterization outside of their relationship to the main two and the two friends never talk about anything else than the opposite sex.

A better example would be a movie with very little dialogue, or a small cast.

You have the right to have message statement being the exclusive priority.

And I have the right to sleep through your boring, pretentious, unentertaining piece of shit.

Entertainment with no message is enjoyable in some ways. Message with no entertainment if boring. And I'm not going to be paying attention to messages if I'm asleep.

Dr. Cakey:
You may not be aware - I say with a jaw-droppingly unnecessary amount of sarcasm - but films already receive ratings. This is no different, except that, unlike the meaningless ratings on violence and sexual content which already exist, these ratings serve a purpose.

Naked people and blood are material and easily fit a grading scale. Whether two female characters hold an "independent" conversation together is not an acid test for gender bias, much less criteria for grading a film. Even being generous toward its merits, it's void of substance.

Lieju:
what is your issue with that rating system, exactly?

I have my problems with the common rating system used for movies, but only if it limits the rights of the audience, especially based on arbitrary things. (Like underage kids not being allowed to see the movie because it has cursing.)

How does this rating turn it into a matter of entertainment?

The point is we can't be rating art as it pertains to value. If art is about expression that may or may not involve entertainment, then it should not be subject to this sort of appeasement process. Are we giving art free will or are we saying that it has to meet a standard and entertain us as well?

The clear difference between current rating systems and this one is that it introduces the moral question. At any rate, as long as we're discussing what art is we should examine what it's not and it's not about conformity.

AgedGrunt:

Dr. Cakey:
You may not be aware - I say with a jaw-droppingly unnecessary amount of sarcasm - but films already receive ratings. This is no different, except that, unlike the meaningless ratings on violence and sexual content which already exist, these ratings serve a purpose.

Naked people and blood are material and easily fit a grading scale. Whether two female characters hold an "independent" conversation together is not an acid test for gender bias, much less criteria for grading a film. Even being generous toward its merits, it's void of substance.

The way of grading movies for age-appropriate content is unclear and biased, though.
What amount of nudity is appropriate? What about context? Or the sexuality of the characters (as portrayal of homosexual relaionship tends to get higher rating.)
And how do you rate whether something is scary? Or what words are 'unacceptable'?

AgedGrunt:

The clear difference between current rating systems and this one is that it introduces the moral question.

What?

You are saying that grading movies according to nudity, sexual content, ideology etc. is not about morality?

 

Reply to Thread

This thread is locked