But what constitutes as artistic success to you is dependent on your standards. Your worldview is embedded in the word “better” and it can not be extracted from it.
Sure—standards depend on my personal worldview to a certain extent. But are you suggesting that standards are absolutely relative—that there is no such thing as individuals having more talent and success at realizing their talent? that a film attaining a high level of artistic success is illusory or meaningless? that there is no such thing as great art, only art that an individual enjoys? Are you also suggesting that the universal recognition of certain arts and works of art are meaningless—a learned delusion en masse? That the universal resonance of the work indicates something artistically significant about the work?
Now, supposing you believe that some artists succeed artistically, while others do not, let me ask a question:
how does one know when this happens? In my experience one cannot just go by what one likes or doesn’t like—because one’s personal enjoyment depends heavily on one’s personal preferences, experiences, associations, etc. I grew up watching a lot of action films, so I tend to like action films. This preference says nothing about the quality of a work of art. In other words, I can’t use preference as a way to identify—and appreciate—the films that succeed artistically. That’s where the standards can be useful. Yes, one’s culture influences the standards, but what’s the alternative? Just go by what one enjoys and what one doesn’t? To me, that’s egotistical. It’s an approach that puts one’s preferences above the artist’s intentions and whether these intentions were successfully met or not—which to me is crucial in appreciating and respecting art.
Now, the determination if an art succeeds or fails is an opinion—it is not infallible and there can be other valid opinions. My sense is that you believe judgments about a work of art’s greatness is necessarily arrogant, offensive and dismissive of other views. I don’t think that’s the case at all.
Something to chew on:
Ah, I was going to leave this thread alone because I thought people were sick of it but it’s been bumped again…
Nathan, I do believe that there are moral and ideological limitations, though. “Anything goes” is not a phrase I would use to describe the way I approach movies.
Most people disagree with “mixing art with politics.”
Moral and ideological criticisms are mixing art with politics and philosophy. I think that all ratings come down to mixing art with politics and philosophy. There are no legitimate (objective) reasons to think a movie is good or bad. It all comes down to your politics and philosophy. Every time.
It’s an unavoidable phenomenon but it’s a phenomenon that isn’t art. People feel like rating the work and talking about its merits and flaws is what you’re supposed to do when you experience a new work of art. It isn’t. It’s something people added and now confuse as being a natural part of the artistic game.
First paragraph contains too many questions! Great art does not exist. Artistic success takes place in a single audience member’s head. Universal recognition can have sociological value but does not have bearing on the work itself unless your definition of great art is entirely based on its popularity.
Second paragraph is right on up until “That’s where the standards can be useful.” They can not be useful when evaluating the work of artists that don’t share these widely accepted values. Comparing an artist’s work to a list of rules he may or may not care about is putting your preferences above the artist’s intentions. As I’ve already said, the widespread agreement is just a blueprint. It’s what most people like. It’s what most filmmakers want to do. But a movie that follows all the rules is not better than a movie that doesn’t. There is no such thing as better. You can not be right or wrong about which movies are better. You can only be right or wrong about which ones better follow the rules that you invented and should only be seen as guidelines. The reason people are so attached to the concept of better even though there are obviously no objective criteria with which to rate art is because they want to have their feet on solid ground.
It’s an approach that puts one’s preferences above the artist’s intentions and whether these intentions were successfully met or not—which to me is crucial in appreciating and respecting art.
You are assuming that the artist is trying to follow your rules. If he isn’t then you are not respecting the artist’s intentions if you are looking at his work in reference to the rules. A lot of artists don’t care about your rules. They have their own rules. To criticize his rules for being different than yours is, as I said to Nathan, mixing politics with art. It is not valid art criticism.
There is no reason to rate in the first place. Arrogant and offensive? Sure, but more importantly, it is pointless. Art isn’t made so that people can decide whether it’s good or not. That process has NOTHING to do with art. It’s an unnecessary add-on. You can appreciate the work, understand the artist’s intentions and get a million things out of the work, and, if you happen to be writing an essay on popular values of that period, you can even reference he rules……… and then that’s it. There is no reason to then assign it an objective score when you know full well that no such thing exists.
“Great art does not exist.”
Of concern to me is the attempt to make analysis of films almost like a science with a strict guideline of how things have to be.
MICHAEL: with all due respect, why do you waste your time posting on forums then? Because for me, all you have done is attempt to destroy every single possible way of evaluating artistic works.
why not just do something else with your time?
Is everything relative except the opinion of the relativist?
so many questions, very few answers.
Great art does not exist.
Really? Morons exist for sure though.
Joks, Matt Parks already asked me your first question and I’ve already answered (maybe one of the reasons why you find so few answers is because you’ve skipped most of the thread?). And I am not arguing against evaluating artistic works….. again, as I have explained a million times in this thread which you haven’t read. I am arguing against the act of rating art which has nothing to do with the evaluation, the analysis, or the experiencing of art.
I don’t understand why you ask that last question. When did I imply that my opinion wasn’t also just an opinion?
Blue K, my thousands of words of explanation behind that sentence >>>>> your one sentence long troll post.
Your evaluation that thousands of words of explanation are better than my one sentence long post is a position that can only be maintained based on your own world view which by your own definition is not objective. Who is to say that longer posts are >>>>>> one sentence long post? You cannot possibly rate these statements. You also say that my post is a “troll” post, but again, that is a claim only contingent upon your assumption that things should be judged based on your world view. Did you consider my statement in light of my world view? My post exists in and of itself and should not be rated according to your philosophy and politics.
Moral and ideological criticisms are mixing art with politics and philosophy.
Because, you know, art never touches on politics or philosophy…
At least now you’re hinting at a counter-argument.
You’re right. In order to rate your post I have to first invent rules about what a post should be like. In this case, I invented a few:
- that one sentence < lots of sentences
- that ad hominem attacks < arguments
- that sarcasm < logic
All of these laws I have invented limit me and, as a result, I condescend to your post. It makes me feel better about myself.
But I have two defenses for myself:
1) I don’t look at message board posts the same way I look at art. A post in this context has a pretty clear function. So I am more okay about going along with rules about what a post is supposed to accomplish. Art is open, it can be anything. I think that inventing rules kind of defeats the purpose of it. Could you say the same thing about posts? Sure. But I take art more seriously than that post. It is a bias of mine. A limitation. I admit that your six word post is not objectively crap, it merely does not appeal to my tastes.
2) I’m speaking informally. I’ve already said that I sometimes call movies good or bad in informal situations because it makes for better conversation.
Nathan, if you want to criticize a film’s politics, do so. But if you dismiss a film because of it’s political views, you are evaluating politics, not art. It deserves a different label.
I can’t believe I’m having to say this.
Art expresses ideas, be they political, philosophical, or other. So, separating the two seems relatively useless to me. When Oliver Stone (to use an obvious example) makes a movie about President Nixon, he’s trying to impress us with a certain political viewpoint. There is no separation between what he makes (the art) and what he expresses (the political/historical viewpoint). Therefore, the only way to evaluate a film like Nixon is to evaluate it in terms of what it expresses. You may also look at other factors, such as acting, directing, etc, but it is a critique of the art work to critique what it expresses.
I’m concerned with the fact that some people use a framework to analyze films that contains conditions that must be met in order for a film to be “great”.
If film is an art it doesn’t make much sense to make it and accept one way does it?
I am really only disputing the term you choose to use here.
I see the criticism you speak of as 100% political and 0% art. I don’t see it as some kind of 50/50 split. Even if the work of art contains political messages, you are only commenting on the political nature of the work, not on the artistic aspect of it. I disagree with you calling this a rating of the artistic quality of the work. I consider it a rating of the political messages of the work of art. This stems from my disagreement with the claim that they are so interwoven that it is impossible to talk theoretically about one without the other.
This is Nagisa Oshima.
Nagisa Oshima made both art films and political films at the same time.
I can clearly distinguish between the two when watching his films.
Oshima used an art medium to express political ideas. Therefore we can critique his art and his politics at the same time.
Look, obviously you may look at a work of art from many different perspectives. I am not arguing that every movie needs to be seen in political or philosophical terms. You could critique a movie based totally on the lighting schemes if you wanted. My point is that politics and art mix, because artists can (and do) use their selected mediums to express ideas. One could choose to ignore the political aspects of a given work (you could simply ask how entertaining Nixon is), but the politics are still a part of the whole and therefore an element that needs to be included in the evaluative process if applicable.
Nathan, do you think it’s possible to justify whether Nixon is a good or bad movie without referring to politics?
Not really. You could say that it was entertaining or that you really liked the cinematography or the acting, but I don’t see how you can really engage a movie like Nixon without dealing with the politics. Stone certainly made the movie so that you could engage the politics. But again, Nixon is a movie specifically about politics, and therefore it demands to be analyzed in those terms. My example is probably too obvious. Other films may not be about politics or philosophy at all, but all films express ideas about the world, vantage points if you will. I don’t even see the point in watching movies if I’m not interested in view points.
Right. So are you saying that no films can be rated without referencing their politics or philosophy?
That is what I think. I think when people rate films, it always comes down to judging somebody’s politics. I just think that when you make such a claim about the film’s message being stupid or shallow (or smart or deep), it is a discussion about politics but not a discussion about art. You might make a valid criticism of Paul Haggis’s view on race but that criticism isn’t what I consider a valid criticism of the art itself. Or maybe you already understood that from my other posts.
Yeah…and I’m saying that the art is the politics and the politics is the art. Therefore the ideology and the art are in a symbiotic relationship.
I would ask this, then: What is “the art”. What elements are up for grabs when evaluating? What constitutes an evaluation of an art work?
For me “the art” is the experience, the expression of feelings, not just ideas. Every element of film making factors into that, usually, cinematography, editing, directing, acting, and the screenwriting are the big ones. Every detail in the film is part of the experience. But how do you evaluate this objectively?
How do you evaluate this objectively?
…not just the ideas.
Yes. One must factor in the whole when looking at something, but one can approach something and critique it for the expression of an idea.
Jazz: Now, supposing you believe that some artists succeed artistically, while others do not, let me ask a question:
how does one know when this happens? In my experience one cannot just go by what one likes or doesn’t like—because one’s personal enjoyment depends heavily on one’s personal preferences, experiences, associations, etc. I grew up watching a lot of action films, so I tend to like action films. This preference says nothing about the quality of a work of art. In other words, I can’t use preference as a way to identify—and appreciate—the films that succeed artistically.
You said you agree with all of this, but you don’t agree that standards are useful. So how do you know when an art work succeeds artistically or not?
Also, what if the artist, in question, does share the “widely accepted values?” Would not using those standards to evaluate the art be appropriate?
Btw, I really think you’re blowing the notion of relativism all out of proportion. You don’t think technical ability matters to most artists and those who value art? What about the ability to reveal profound insights into the human condition? What about originality? Vision? Wholeness? Timelessness? Sure there are some serious artists who may not value some of these qualities, but I don’t think there are many.
Let me be clear, too. These criteria should be judged within the context of what the work is trying to do and what it’s about. So, for example, sometimes a lack of technique may actually enhance the work. Think of a film like Pink Flamingos. These standards aren’t absolutes and the using them to assess a work of art is not scientific. If’ you’ve been reading my posts about greatness, you would know that my approach involves the following:
1. Determining what the film is about and what it’s trying to do.
2. Whether and how well the film has succeeded in achieving it’s goals and expressing it’s “aboutness.”
The standards come in to play in #2. Success doesn’t depend on meeting all the criteria, but, more than likely, it should meet some of them—and some of them in exceptional fashion. We could also argue about which standards are appropriate and which ones aren’t. There’s a lot of gray area in the process.
Imo, this approach covers just about any work of art, but I would be interested in hearing situations when this approach would be unfair or inappropriate.
Now some people may not be interested in evaluating art in this way, but, imo, if you care about appreciating and understanding great works of art, some standards are critical. Otherwise, one’s appreciation and experience of art will a kind of solipsistic activity—never going beyond what I like or don’t like. Personally, I want to understand a work of art beyond what I like and don’t like.
Oh, this thread is still on page 1? Okay, I’ll play.
Sophistry sophistry sophistry
Greatness is relative, no it’s not
Okay maybe it is but with terms defined this particular way
Soapbox my general views about art
Why are so many of the posters’ names suddenly in black?
I’m finding this discussion fascinating and do see what you’re saying, Michael – the art can certainly be defined as the intangible, inexplicable, subconscious and emotional aspect of a film. The part that can’t be traced precisely or ranked or understood in any real sense. That mystery is what brings us to art instead of strictly to philosophy. Philosophy is the realm of ideas, be they concrete or abstract; when we enter film, we can of course discuss the ideas, but then we’re discussing the philosophy of the film rather than its art. It’s grounds for an evaluation of the film as an essay, but not as a work of art.
Now where you take it a bit far for me – not in saying that limiting oneself in any way is a bad thing, because I agree with that – is in implying that any inability to engage with a work of art is linked to an inability to appreciate a different perspective, rather than an inability on the part of the artist to express that perspective. Even if one does not impose any expectations on a work of art, it’s fully possible to not feel that crucial expression of feelings, that experience. Would you say that that depends on the viewer, though, and is not a valid criticism of the artist or the art itself?
Also, the way you describe the art aspect of a film makes it seem like a difficult-to-discuss topic. Would you say that art can be discussed by talking about those elements (cinematography, directing, acting, editing, etc) and how they link into the overall experience?
Btw, I forgot to mention (or I can’t remember if I already said this), but rating films is not so important to me. Ratings are just a convenient shorthand way to communicate one’s feelings about a film. Beyond that, there’s not much value in them.