Give the People What They Want: Art, Artistic Integrity, and Why Video Games May Never Be
By Zak Edwards
April 23, 2012 - 14:35
A few years ago, the world’s most famous movie critic, Roger Ebert, famously argued that video games are not art and will never achieve that status in our lifetime. He has a fairly articulate article that uses a TED talks video as a framework here that works well (even if dissecting TED talks videos on culture are about as easy as putting on socks in the morning), but what I want to talk about is the reactions by fans to his statement and recent video game experiences.
Art, in my opinion, has become synonymous with entertainment and, if not pleasure, than socially responsible expression. It seems art must either entertain or make a statement that lines up with the popular modes of thinking that people who engage with that art agree with, making people either feel happy or artificially challenged with their own opinions. It must not, under any circumstances, actually challenge the audience, only those the audience dislikes. For example, the film Milk was about Harvey Milk, his murder and, by and large, contemporary LGBT politics. It’s timing was immaculate with Prop 8 coming back up for the right-wing conservatives wanting narrower definitions of family and expression, yet the people who watched the film were not the people voting to destroy gay marriage in California. Milk does not challenge, it affirms all the way to the Oscars.
Yes, I recognize there are films that do legitimately do many of the things I’m saying they don’t, but I would argue most people haven’t even heard of them and, if they have, are either limiting them to art house cinemas or trying to get them banned. Experimentation in film is restricted but still happens and the extremely graphic abilities of film can really challenge audiences. It seems films can do things, grow up as it were, and become something, even if most have no idea it’s happening.
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