May 2008

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"Although the Harry Potter books and Titanic have entertained me well, they have failed to make me think or feel much in new ways; thus for me, they don't rank highly as works of art."

Are you saying videogames being entertainment aren"t art?

Roby Bang

Does that mean that porn has artistic merit? The producers have an objective, to make you buy it an d enjoy yourself, and regardless of how cheesy the concept or storyline it (like "Star Whores" or "Easy Ride Me", as if you watch it for the plot..) it acieves it's goal. Or the Dadaist and people on the internet I know created artwork that's whole goal is to look intentionally cheap as a parody, and guess what, it is. It had an objective, and achieved it's goal, even if it sucks. In my mind, art can only be judged on your own individual tastes and what appeals to you. During Vincent Van Gogh's life, he only sold one painting, and 99% of people thought his art sucked. then after his death, he becomes the rage of the art world, and everyone would kill to have one of his originals. So what happened, did he suck because no one liked him, then become an artistic genius because everyone liked him? Obviously, personal opinion isn't the best sign of artistic merit.

~~Roby Bang

Loud Howard

I totally agree with you Scott. Reading your post and a bunch of the replies reminded me of my favorite episode of one of my favorite TV cartoons ever: Dilbert. Almost nobody watched it, which was a tragedy that I appropriately blame marketing for. Anyway the episode I'm thinking of is entitled "Art", and at the beginning of the episode Dilbert and Dogbert come up with the idea that art is just one big scam for making money. By the end of the episode they've established that the "art racket" is organized. It's controlled by Leonardo Di Vinci, Head of the Five Families of Art.

Listo Entertainment

Sometimes I sit in the toilet.
I know my objective there.
I achieve it.

The experience have always been pleasant, but from now on it will be even better.

Oh yeah. Most people call it shit. You and me know it is Art.


Obviously you know very little about art. Commercial art maybe, but stop equating what you draw with what appears in a museum. That's like Nine Inch Nails comparing itself to Stravinsky. No contest. Garfield isn't art, it's just another product.

For those folks that think they know what art is, as soon as you think that, you don't. Art doesn't have to be pretty, and you don't have to understand it. It doesn't have to be something you want on your wall, or that you want to live with every day. In fact, art doesn't even have to fit on your wall, nor does it have to exist for very long.

I'm quite sure the director of Titanic fully intended to bum everyone out, that's what made the movie a popular chick flick. Women like to cry. And men enjoyed seeing Leonardo di Caprio sink into the ocean. Everybody won.

Amasa Amos

The objective of the artist who created those Harry Potter books sucks.

Robert A. Hall

My personal definition of art is, if I could do it, it ain’t art. That’s because I have zero artistic or musical talent.

In some cases, it appears to me that the objective of a particular piece or series of “artistic” pieces is to see how much money can be extracted from gullible patrons or quiescent taxpayers with the absolute minimum of talent and effort, while sneering at those Philistines who don’t get it. The closer to complete dreck it is, the more fun the game.

Of course, one must be politically correct. A crucifix in a bucket of pee is perfect. So simple that anyone could do it. Offensive enough to get lots of attention. Weird enough that the taxpayers must pay big bucks to support it through the Nutty Artist Welfare Agency of the government (NEA I think it’s called).

A statue of Mohammed in a bucket of pee, however, wouldn’t be art, because it would offend the wrong group. Therefore the taxpayers shouldn’t support it. Besides, it wouldn’t be safe. The number of Catholic suicide bombers is statistically pretty rare, while a quick review of the daily paper will tell you the second type of artistic piece might well be fatal.

So art isn’t subjective. It’s political. And politicians don’t want to be against “the arts.” Much worse than being against the Flag. So those of us who don’t "get it" will have to go on paying for the art-elite to feel superior to us. Which is why the more popular something is, the less artistic it is. Think pro-football, NASCAR, porn, high grossing movies, well-read novels. Can’t be art, because only the elites are sensitive and intelligent enough to recognize and appreciate art. The rest of us clods just have to shut up and pay for it.

In other fields of endeavor, we call this a scam


I found the one Harry Potter book I attempted to read to be dreadfully awful in the beginning - dull, unengaging, and weakly written. They're pop fiction, not art; something easily digestible for the average person that is quite profitable for the author (and many others, e.g. through the movies). I'm sure they're nice stories, but I want my stories to entertain me AND to mean something, which is why I don't enjoy much pop fiction.

I stick with the things that make someone think and aspire to something greater: Rand, Vonnegut, Orwell, Huxley, and many others who wrote 20th century classical fiction.

So for me, there should be a message or a point to something being an art. South Park's thing is jagged satire, but there are real messages in there. There's no real substance in Garfield, as opposed to, say, Spider-Man.

Personally, I find the people who never take the time to look for something greater and meaningful to be the ones who are 'disturbingly abnormal,' even if they vastly outnumber the rest of us.


You put into words EXACTLY how I feel regarding art. Thank you! Brilliance. This is an argument I've had with several people many times.

Nate B

I have to say good on you for trying to give a definition to "art". I have in-laws who are artists by trade and they can never give me a satisfactory answer as to what separates a Picasso from the scribbles my 2 year old draws on printer paper.

Your definition comes closer, but still doesn't go far enough as far as I'm concerned. Good effort though.


Art is definitely subjective. I know this because I've been to art museums. Clearly, the proprietors of the art museum see as art something that looks like somebody yacked up their lunch, while I see a pile of yack.

My definition of art is: If it is visually appealing and looks like it took at least some effort, it might be art. If it looks like a monkey threw buckets of paint at a wall, it might be monkey art, but it ain't art to me.

Somebody once told me if it's going to be art, it has to have a title. This is clearly the definition used by performance artists, such as the guy who actually got paid to have an exhibit that consisted of flipping a light switch on and off in an empty room. At least it keeps him off the street.

As for movies, I don't think movies need to be art. I only have one criterion for liking a movie. Do I care what's going to happen next? If I want to see what happens next, I'm getting my money's worth. Oh, all right, 2 criteria: no kids should die in the movie. And the person I've been rooting for throughout the film should still be alive at the end. OK, that's 3. But that's it. It doesn't have to be art, it just has to entertain me and not make me feel bad.


Art (capital A) I think should give you a look at the world through the artist's eyes. A fresh look at something, anything, from someone else's perspective.


to grame, I disagree with you. I do like the Harry Potter books. I think most of the great stories are great because they are close to the classic stories. Even Tolkien suggested that there are only a few and that the rest are retellings of the same story. i.e. East of the Sun and West of the Moon=Psyche=Cinderella. Harry Potter has elements of the classic stories in it.(dragons, magical items, derring do) Why wouldn't anyone who likes classic stories like it? I am not a crazy fanatic about it, but have enjoyed reading the books, then again, I like C.S. Lewis, Tolkein, Marie Renault and lots of other authors, and like very few of the best seller list items.


Art (capital A) I think should give you a look at the world through the artist's eyes. A fresh look at something, anything, from someone else's perspective.


Here's the difference between art and whatever Titanic was:
Titanic made you feel like you just put your dog to sleep.
A Night To Remember made you feel like you were the dog.


I hope that there are higher standards for what can be considered art than just achieving the creator's goals. The Da Vinci Code is a best seller, but it is hardly a great work of literature ( A 9th grader could write better. But it's incontrovertible that Dan Brown met his goal of writing something that an unsophisticated market would gobble up.


I hear ya Scott. I get some of that hater syndrome when I reveal my art. There's always a lot of yelling and screaming and without fail someone ranting something to the effect of "putting my pants back on". Like they know what art looks like. Damned Yankee's.


"Garfield" isn't art, it's commerce. Darned good commerce, too. But I doubt that even Jim Davis would call it art. Why don't you call him up and ask? Tell us his response.

You admit that you set out to be a rich and famous cartoonist--was that to bring your concept of art to the world, or to be rich and famous? Now that you are indeed rich and famous, you could start making "art", if you so chose (without giving up the cash cow of the strip, of course). Let me know when you have a gallery opening.

Anne Yenny

I am curious about how graffiti would fit into this. I had an interesting argument with a graphic artist who was an ex-graffiti "artist" who claimed that graffiti was art, because that's what the artist claims it is. Didn't matter whether anyone (including the homeowner of the property defaced) felt about it.

And since it was art, it needed to be respected.

Couldn't convince him otherwise even when I threatened to deface his BMW and claim it as art.


This is not but a gratuitous attack on all that we hold dear. It is deeply offesnve.


Shorter Scott: "I like movies with happy endings - so should you!"


Although scientists say human and chimp DNA only differs by 2%, with me, it’s probably a lot less.”

With you I'd say 3%. With me, maybe 2.3% on a good day. But seriously, how is that possible?


When I was a youngling, I found Garfield to be hysterical. I bought a ton of books and stuffed animals. Then one day, I realized how silly the comic strip was, and it was kind of depressing, considering the amount of time I dedicated to my love for the strip. I said to my dad, "Garfield isn't funny anymore!" and he calmly said, "Honey, Garfield was never funny."

Ohhh the humanity!


Did you by any chance just watch The Dead Poets Society? The "achieves his objectives" theory sound pretty familiar...

Don G

Is that why I didn't like Titanic? Personally I think it would have been a pretty good documentary, except that a stupid love story kept stealing screen time!

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