November 22, 2008

The Two Way Street: Thoughts on Art

There's been a lot of talk recently about a new movie. Fireproof. Now, I haven't seen the movie, but that's okay, because this post is not about that movie. At least, not the content or the film-making or the message. Strike that, this post is about ALL of those things. Just not specifically that movie.

Some who read this may consider this an apologetic (not an apology -- it's two different things) for mediocre art. It's not. I encourage you to get that out of your head right now. The intent of this post is to put into words some new thoughts I've had about art and how it works.

Art is a two way street. There is the creator and there is the audience.

I've been seeing a lot of Christians (usually armchair quarterbacks -- in other words, consumers rather than creators, which doesn't invalidate their opinion, but it does cast a different light on it) complaining about how wretched ALL ART BY CHRISTIANS is.

Granted, there is some truth to that. Why is it that we must ALWAYS provide a Christian rip off of mainstream successes? Granted, some could say my work is just that: a Christian rip off of mainstream successes, because there truly is nothing new under the sun.

And that does give Christian artists a difficult time gaining legitimacy.

But . . . what's the audience?

That must always be taken into consideration.

For example: Fireproof.

What's the audience? Mostly, Christian married couples. And, then, married couples who aren't Christians.

Okay. Cool.

So, when you're making a movie for that audience, there are certain things you need to do, and certain things you do not need to do. Certain things you should do, and certain things you should not do. Might you show a married couple in bed? Perhaps. Might you show a married couple being active in bed? No. (Sorry, I'm trying to think of ways to say this so key words on this blog aren't going to hone in on the wrong phrasings.)

And when you are a part of the target audience, you tend to be forgiving of the artist . . . understanding the artist's intentions. The acting is a bit wooden? That's forgivable, because the message is speaking to me. The characters are preaching a bit? That's okay, I came into it wanting to be preached to a little bit.

Of course, hackles are raised when someone not part of that intended audience gets in there.

These are just some thoughts. And they are by no means to be taken as excuses for not producing the best art you can produce. Just because you're not the top of your field, doesn't mean you should give up and not produce art . . . but it also does not mean you should not put your everything into it.

This goes for everyone, by the way. Not just Christian artists and Christian audiences. The same could be applied to any niche or genre of artistic endeavor.

~ Ben

November 20, 2008

The Death of Pop Culture

Was talking about this with a friend of mine . . .

"Pop Culture" isn't dead yet. But it's starting to flatline.

Its replacement is "niche culture".

Because of the internet, thousands of channel choices through digital television, and

In today's environment, we can never have a Beatles or Bob Dillon or M*A*S*H or Seinfeld or anything like that.

It's a plus and a minus.

On one hand, you can ALWAYS get what you want.

On the other hand, you are NEVER exposed to new things.

So when I have webcomic, if I work hard enough, I'll be able to find the people who are interested in it. But, the chances of a broad audience coming across it are nil. And even if the broad audience happens across it, if it's "not their thing" they won't give it the chance to let it become their thing.

There will always be things like American Idol and Hollywood blockbustsers, because there will always be people with the pockets to put things in front of people and keep them there. But Seinfeld and M*A*S*H, like I said, just don't have a chance to happen again.

Is this a bad thing? I think not. I think this will force artists/creators to work harder at their craft, as they compete for audiences. I think the potential for BETTER works of art on the larger scale is possible.

But the people with more money will have to take less chances.

And the people with less money will have to do more with less.

It's an interesting conundrum.

~ Ben

November 17, 2008

STAR TREK trailer

The new Star Trek trailer is now up. This is the trailer that actually shows what is going to be in the movie.

I have to say, I'm liking what I see.

As a Star Trek fan since I was in grade school and watching the old school Star Trek downstairs on my parent's old black and white television that made everything in the top quarter of the screen enlongated (which created some very large foreheads) . . . I've realized that Star Trek was a big part of my adolescence. While Star Wars engaged my imagination, it was Star Trek that caused my imagination to reach out an explore. When I wrote and drew my own comics in elementary school and junior high, I had a handful of superheroes that I made up and I did Star Trek stories.

When I started writing fiction, the only "fan-fiction" I wrote in junior high and high school was Star Trek. (It wasn't fan fiction back then, it was just Star Trek stories.) I didn't do that with Star Wars or Superman. I mean, I loved Star Wars and Superman . . . but for some reason, it was Star Trek that actually seemed to encourage artistic creation for me.

I find that interesting.

Anyway, I hope this movie lives up to the promise. There's a great cast, some strong writers, and the guy who gave us Lost. Already, Trek fans around the world are nitpicking the heck outta this thing . . . some claiming that this new movie has ruined their childhood, others claiming this new movie is the science fiction equivalent of the Messiah.

As someone who has always preferred "Trekkie" over "Tre
kker" . . . I'm waiting and looking forward to seeing the movie. They've been saying things about how this will be a "positive" movie, and how it will be a different kind of movie in a landscape where The Dark Knight is breaking records.

We'll see . . .

~ Ben

The new version of the U.S.S. Enterprise, from Entertainment Weekly

Nano Film Review #20 -- Quantum of Solace

Casino Royale was a great James Bond movie.

Quantum of Solace is a movie with great action scenes.

Big difference.

Quantum of Solace feels like it's just an extension of the previous movie (plot-wise, it is) and a set up for the next movie. Like too many big action movies, it felt like the character moments were little more than pit stops between action sequences.

Can't say I really liked it. Can't say I really didn't. Fits nice and snugly in between. I don't recommend it, really. Maybe as a rental.

~ Ben