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

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