Film As Art

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Can a movie be art? It probably depends upon your definition of art. The general definition is “something created with imagination and skill that is beautiful or expresses important ideas.” There are a lot of subjective words there. What is beautiful to one person can be silly looking to another person. Important ideas are not always easy to define and often take a long time before they are seen as important.

Using this general definition, even allowing for variations of taste and perspective, movies can be art in the same way a pop song can be art. It is unlikely that anyone will be performing Madonna songs a century from now but lots of people thought the songs were beautiful at the time. Some people even say that she was a culturally important figure at her peak. But is Madonna in the same club as Beethoven?

Another way of looking at art is that it is something that holds a mirror up to the society that created it. Greek statues speak to the nature of the people who created them in ways that their graffiti and pornography does not. The Greeks had graffiti and crude art produced for the masses, just like this age. They had pornography too, but what stood the test of time was their sculpture, literature, and architecture.

When you look at it this way, pop songs are not art because they do not speak to the nature of the society that produces them. The reason no one thinks about the pop songs of the 19th century, and they did have pop music, is the same reason no one will talk about Madonna songs in the 22nd century. This sort of crude entertainment has nothing important to say about the people who produced and consumed it.

That brings us back to movies. Most films are made for the same purpose most popular music is made, which is profit. You get a decent script and some famous actors, have it made by a competent director and profit! The only films made for reasons other than profit are the small projects by famous stars and directors. The studios let these guys do pet projects as a way to keep them happy.

This is probably why studios are fine with ruining their franchises by making unnecessary sequels and reboots. Star Wars is a punchline now, but it made billions for the studios, so it is all good. The Indians Jones franchise has ended with the thud, because the studio views it as a profit vehicle, not a work of art. You do not reboot Mozart or remake a Da Vinci painting. You can reboot a movie franchise.

This brings us to the classic Disney film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which is number fifty on the AFI top-100. There is no need to summarize it or even offer a critique, as everything that can be said about this has been said. Not only is it the greatest animated film of all time, but it is also based on a German fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, thus tying it to the soul of Western man.

Does this film have something important to say? Does it hold a mirror up to the society that produced it? Is it beautiful? The answer to the first question is no, but the second and third questions are not obvious. It does feel like a statement of some sort, but that is mostly because we view it from the perspective of this age. It reflects what we have come to view as a better, more decent age than our own. But is it art?

Probably the best argument for it being a work of art is the response to the news that Disney plans to vandalize this film. They wanted to reimagine it by making it diverse and vulgar, like everything else. Instead of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs it is going to be Nonwhite and the Seven Diverse Weirdos. People were not outraged or offended as it is too late for that now. Instead, everyone laughed.

Vandalizing Star Wars makes people angry because you are destroying a part of their childhood, but once those people are gone, the film, the remakes and the outrage around those remakes are forgotten. When someone says they want to improve on Beethoven or paint a better version of the Mona Lisa, you laugh because you know the person doing it is an idiot and he and his work will soon be forgotten.

In other words, a work of art cannot be remade, rebooted, or even vandalized, as it has deep roots in our cultural consciousness. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are still with us, even though they are long gone, because they made such a deep impression on the people of that time that the memory of them has been preserved. Art not only stands the test of time, but it also transcends time and place.

The one issue with this line of reasoning is that unlike any other form of art, film has to be seen to be appreciated. We can appreciate the Colossus of Rhodes from descriptions and drawings. We know it existed and we can imagine what it was like seeing it at the time. You cannot do that with a film. Once Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is gone, all we have left is the fairytale on which it is based.

That is the reason to watch this film. Given the age in which we live, it could soon be condemned for heresy. They removed Song of the South and now hardly anyone remembers it existed. If you want to see it, you have to watch it on a weird website or download it from the Chinese. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a great film, but it is also a reminder that we have to fight to keep our art.

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178 thoughts on “Film As Art

  1. Being a not-gay person, I generally don’t like musicals but I Feel like the original West Side Story and the Music Man are Works of Art.

  2. Technology killed art.

    Art has always had a number of functions – among them decoration, beauty, representing reality and most importantly triggering the imagination of the observer such at each person could cast their own interpretation of the depiction.

    Mechanistic- chemical photography eliminated the need for art to represent reality. And moving pictures and video have destroyed the imaginative aspect of art via superior presentation and desensitizing the observing public.

    Which is why all modern art is abstract – to the point of functioning as Rorschach totems.

  3. Partly off-topic. I never understood why white liberals and white elite hate ordinary whites. Not talking about other tribes. All elites have always had contempt for ordinary people but not hate. What is different in America?

    • Uh… jews?

      We have an (((elite))) that have never participated in the building of the country — only its destruction. Why would they like us?

  4. When you look at it this way, pop songs are not art because they do not speak to the nature of the society that produces them.

    I dunno about dat.

    Material Girl said a lot about 80’s America.

  5. “Vandalizing Star Wars makes people angry because you are destroying a part of their childhood, but once those people are gone, the film, the remakes and the outrage around those remakes are forgotten.”

    Star Wars is #15 on the AFI Top 100…🤫

    • Frankly, that ranking is ridiculous. Loved it as a 10-year-old. I see it now and it leaves me slightly cold. Ultimately, it’s a good and rather imaginative kids’ movie with great special effects, nothing more.

      • I think you understate it’s influence on cinema, and the economy around movies. It reminds of something someone noted about The Matrix: There were action movies made before The Matrix, and action movies made after The Matrix.

    • Ukraine is hosting one of the great epics of this century

      ❝We are Harry Potter and William Wallace, the Na’vi and Han Solo. We’re escaping from Shawshank and blowing up the Death Star. We are fighting with the Harkonnens and challenging Thanos.❞

      In light of that, I’m a little surprised Star Wars didn’t make #1

    • First they came for the memes tweeters
      Then they came for the J6 grannies
      Then they came for Claremont
      Then they came for Book Reviews..
      …then they came for Rod Dreher… and we just laughed.

      Z will be safe. He’s Tarzan surrounded by his Baltimore bodyguard of 🦍.
      They shall not venture there…

  6. The most innovative contemporary art is the weird avant-garde poetry our hateful rulers use to describe us:

    “basket of deplorables”

    “listless vessels”


    Decades of dada from Tzara to Ashbery never assembled such awkward nonsense.

  7. I have a feeling that most of the “art” from this era will be forgotten quickly. In fact, much of it is already (thankfully) forgotten. Art is supposed to be beautiful and aspirational. Now so much of it is suicidal. So much of it is easily mistaken for rubbish. It’s all over the art. Whether it is buildings, music, modern art, movies or works of fiction, much of it is ugly and not uplifting in any way. There is a ton of modern art which required the technique and skill of a 6 year old to produce with such masterpieces as a blank canvas or a canvas with a black line down the center.

    There is a Ted Talk (I believe it was a ted thing) where a college art professor explains how he took a zoomed in photo of his painting apron and presented it to his class as art. He basically catches drips and rubs his brush on it to remove excess paint. From the picture, you couldn’t tell it was an apron because it was zoomed into a couple of square inches. The students made comments about it being powerful and bold and the like. Literal random paint spots is mistaken for art and discussed as art in a college art class. There are lots of stories of janitors throwing parts of an art display into the trash because the “art” is indistinguishable from literal trash. One xirl put her trashed messy bedroom on display complete with bloody underwear. This was displayed in a major art gallery.

    It’s clowns all the way down.

    • There is a cool documentary about Jackson Pollack where someone gets a splatter paint canvas from a garage sale and she ends up in the high art world seeing if it is real or fake.

      The pretentions and stupidity of the modern parenthesis led art world are on full display.

      Speaking of amazing art, I got my niece and nephew a book on Rome. It was geared toward young people. However, the paintings are lined with color prints of rennaissance, baroque and romantic era masterpieces depicting Roman life. It made my happy that the youngsters have something coming into their eyes and souls that is aspirational.

      • “The pretentions and stupidity of the modern parenthesis led art world are on full display.”

        “Modern art” is just a money-laundering scheme.

    • Art, like everything else from the elites, is designed to demoralize and abuse you psychologically. Once people who hate you gained control of the culture, they turned the culture into a weapon aimed at you.

      That’s it, it is just that simple. Architecture is the same way – look at the type of lunatic buildings and their designers that have been celebrated over the past 40 years or so. Look at the Nancy Pelosi Federal Building in San Francisco, nobody can walk by that thing, look at it, and feel pleasant or optimistic. And sure enough it is surrounded by violent, drug addicted hobos living in filth – mission accomplished.

      • Wow. That Pelosi building is a monstrosity. The first featured photo I found of it had additional photos showing the hobos and junkies. I wonder if this has made the coveted eyesore of the month list over on Kunstler’s website. I don’t recall ever seeing it there. If not, we gotta nominate it.

  8. From the late 80s on to today, I’ve noticed that the decline of its popular music precedes the decline of the rest of society. Some, albeit not a tremendous amount, of musical literacy is required to make this assessment. This wasn’t apparent in the late 80s/early 90s. All that was apparent then was that popular music was declining. Which it has continued to do ever since. With the more obvious decline of AINO following in its wake, which today virtually everyone can see. The music was the canary in the coal mine. An early indicator that the creative force of the society had been spent.

    Informed by this trend, when you take a listen to the “music” that is popular today, it makes the future decline of the society that much more frightful.

  9. “This sort of crude entertainment has nothing important to say about the people who produced and consumed it.”

    That’s interesting. I think the crude popular music is a reflection of our cultural degeneracy and decay. While it is certainly not important in the long term sense because it probably won’t stand the test of time, I think it does say something about us right now.

    For all the Boomer posting about their music and how it was the best ever, there is no denying Boomer music is just way, way better than anything on the radio today. Even the aesthetic of the “bands” is vulgar now. What does a 300 pound 1/2 naked black woman gyrating to rhythmic log banging say about our society? Probably something we would rather not know or acknowledge.

  10. This is not the original topic, but I’m wondering if any of you guys remember the idea of an “edge city”? I used to think it was the cool new idea but I’m increasingly of the view that it’s a scam/ponzi scheme.

    Like has anyone ever been to Irvine, ca? I think that’s supposed to be a typical example of an edge city.

    • When I think of edge city I think of The Woodlands, TX. Palm Beach County FL would probably be another.

      White flight made both of those places what they are. I’m not sure Irvine is in the same category.

  11. As Ol’ Remus said, great art is a snapshot, a picture of a a place and time (that is no more).

  12. I remember after some negro paroxysm–the Passion of Floyd? Trayvon Martin verdict?–Darius Rucker did a live performance of “White Christmas.” The Left, univocally, flew into a rage. The word white itself, even when not referencing Blue-eyed Ice Devils, when connoted positively, was anathamatized. Could there be much clearer evidence that anti-white racism is what most motivates the Left?

    • Tars Tarkas: “He basically catches drips and rubs his brush on it to remove excess paint. From the picture, you couldn’t tell it was an apron because it was zoomed into a couple of square inches. The students made comments about it being powerful and bold and the like.”

      Was he zooming in on his own pen!$?

    • Ostei Kozelskii: Darius Rucker did a live performance of “White Christmas.”

      The irony there is that (((Israel Beilin))) wrote “White Christmas” as part of a massive cultural-wide effort on the part of the Frankfurt School to secularize the birth of Christ and turn that date into just another excuse for purchasing worthless pieces of plastic junk from j00ish peddlers of pediatric garbage such as (((Mattel))) and (((Barbie))).

      Cf Beilin’s subsequent tune, “Easter Parade”, which began the effort to the secularize of the resurrection of Christ.

      Cf “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” by (((John David Marks))).

      [Apparently Peter Cottontail, as the Easter Bunny, is largely a goyische fiction, although personally I am dubious.]

      • “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” were secular Christmas songs written about the same time as “White Christmas,” and the lyricists were white, not Jewish. I hardly think “White Christmas” was a sinister Jewish plot against Christmas.

    • Ironic, as White Christmas was originally composed by the benosed to disassociate Christmas from its religious ties.

  13. Perhaps one cannot “reboot” Mozart, but one can remake his operas with a cast of Hutus and in such a way as to push the DIE agenda. And in fact, this sort of thing happens all the time. The people who do this, of course, are uninterested in art except for destroying it. Be that as it may, art can be debased just as easily as pop culture. The crime, however, is far worse.

    • Ostei, perhaps you can correct, but I have heard of pressure to eliminate “blind auditions” for classical orchestra hiring cross the country in order to let Hutus participate. DIE of course being the greatest achievement possible in any endeavor.

      • That’s exactly right. The people at the NY Times, among other institutions, have been pushing this, although I’m not sure if the NY Phil has yet adopted the deranged policy. If not, it can only be a matter of time.

        One thing that has swept the length of breadth of the classical music world, however, is the mandates for DIE in performance and programming. What this means is that mediocre negro musicians and black compositional hacks are popping up in concerts across the land. (The totally forgettable negress Florence Price is now treated like Mozart.) My local orchestra, which I’ve patronized since the late 80s, has started down this path. I no longer attend its concerts…

        • The NY Philharmonic was never worth a damn [except for a very precious few short years when James Chambers was playing on a Reynolds horn of his own design].

          And the NY Philharmonic will never be worth a damn.

          • Cerminaro “inherited” many of Chambers’s horns, and he might have one or more of Chambers’s Reynolds horns in his possession.

            Sadly, Cerminaro now chooses to play on a Schmid, which is an hideous doleful abject abomination of a miscreancy.

            The world will not be Right again until all Schmid horns have been cast into active volcanoes and subsumed back down into Hell, where they belong.

        • Someone recently sent me a story where they eliminated blind auditions for an orchestra in Alabama. Cancer has metasticized

      • They found out a while ago that blind auditions didn’t provide the requisite quota of Nubians, so they’re back to checking skin color.

    • I kind of liked a Fifth of Beethoven. Reboot? Tribute? OK, it’s not the 5th Symphony, but it’s an entertaining 3.5 minutes or whatever it is.

    • Perhaps one cannot “reboot” Mozart, but one can remake his operas with a cast of Hutus…

      The Marriage of Nigaro, The Magic Loot…

  14. But does art stand the test of time because it holds a mirror up to the society in which it was created or because it conveys incredible beauty or timeless ideas that, some would say, are universal? In the case of Greek statuary and architecture, I would argue that its classical beauty is why it is revered now just as much as it was when it was created.

    • I would argue that the very act of these expressions of beauty and timeless ideas, which are themselves expressive of eternal verities, is in fact a mirror held up to the potentials of the society and the people from whom these flow. They are inextricably linked.

  15. Readers of the Z-Blog will recall an old theory/prophecy that went as follows:

    A hundred monkeys pecking away at random on a hundred typewriters will eventually reproduce the complete works of William Shakespeare. The terms may be a little dated, what with the typewriters, and that modest round number, meant to suggest something like “many,” or even “infinite.” And one monkey, of course, would suffice, given enough time and an immortal monkey. In any case, the chance duplication would require the monkeys—let us say a brigade of monkeys—to peck out 38 excellent plays and some 160 poems of one metrical beat or another.

    Is the musty old prophecy at last being fulfilled? We now have millions of monkeys pecking away more or less at random, day and night, on millions of personal computer keyboards. We have “word processors,” the Internet, e-mail, and “the information explosion.” Futurists at our leading universities tell us the day is at hand when, out of this maelstrom of words, a glorious literature must emerge, and indeed flourish.

    So far, however, as of today, Tuesday, August 22nd, just after noon, the tally still seems to be fixed at:

    Shakespeare: 198, Monkeys: 0

    • Just to randomly get two identical shuffles of a deck of 52 cards, it would take many, many, many times longer than the universe has been theorized to exist. Puts the Shakespeare/monkey thing in perspective.

    • I appreciate the old saying for what it’s worth and attempts to convey, but the reality is that the probability is so small of such an occurrence, that most likely the universe will *end* before such a feat can be accomplished. Assuming of course, our current understanding of the cosmos remains “true”.

    • The hundred to the Nth power monkeys have gotten pretty good at searching, willlowing out, Shakespeare et al, though. For example Googling ‘the quality of mercy is not strained’ produces 1,840,000 results in 0.53 seconds sorted in order of relevance.

    • “This is a thousand monkeys working at a thousand typewriters. Soon they’ll have written the greatest novel known to man. Lets see. It was the best of times, it was the “blurst” of times?!?! You stupid monkey!”

      Charles Montgomery Burns, The Simpsons, episode “Last Exit to Springfield”

      • Now we have AI, which pretends to add to human knowledge by scanning the internet to collect and organize what the monkeys produce.

        • Yes, I’ve been thinking about this. My knowledge here is limited, but the concept is fascinating as I hear of applied uses. Can you take an unskilled laborer and make him as competent as a typical garage grease monkey using AI? So far I’m getting the impression that “you can lead a horse to water, but can’t make him drink”.

          It might be that the end effect is to make the good even more competent—and certainly efficient, while leaving the mediocre behind.

          • It’s the second part of that saying which truly applies to AI “You can fill a man with knowledge, but can’t make him think.”

          • “A just machine to make big decisions.
            Programmed by fellows with compassion and vision.”

            A concept of the future by a young boy in 1958, as related in the song “I.G.Y.” by Donald Fagen.

            Instead of that we’re going to get AI-generated poz, programmed by wogs and Jews.

        • what’s really funny is I used image maker ap and combined the facials of putin, trump, vivek, sharpton and Xi, and the resultant morphed face is exactly as foolish and stupid as you might expect it to be..

    • The entire works of Shakespeare are also encoded in ascii in the digits of pi or the square root of 2, but good luck finding it.

    • It’s worse, those typing away are not doing so at random (theoretically). And yet the Bard still wins.

      • Yes, if the typing is non-random and biased against it, then works of the bard will never get typed.

        For example, if the monkey had a habit of striking 5 keys on the left side followed by 5 keys on the right side, then repeating infinitely, many words/phrases cannot be typed with that pattern of behavior.

        “To Be or Not to Be”

  16. We throw around the term art and artist as well as great and genius without regard to the standard and standard bearers who are the towering pillars that speak across time. The reality is, what is being made since the 60s and who has been making it is the unraveling of standards and the shambles of the plebian phase of civilization’s unraveling. That isn’t to say that some art wasn’t made and that there weren’t a few legitimate artists, but one is hard to pressed to find it and them. The institutions that carried forward the highest standards were corrupted at the beginning of the 20th century. They kept the archives, maintained the lineage of pedagogue and protege, and preserved the knowledge of how to train and cultivate craft so that the rare genius who is an artist capable of using the craft to make art could flourish and be invested in.

    In terms of the plebian output, it is mostly product. Even much of what rebelled against product was a productized and shallow rebellion. It is just a product and then a knock-off of the most recent successful product.

    I remember leaving a leading institution that preserved that lineage and history that goes back to the plainchant of the monasteries to their early 20th century downfall. I left and realized I had barely scratched the surface. I was fortunate enough to have as my private teacher that true generational genius. Whether or not his art is seen as up to the standard of all time is up to what another maestro used to call, “The Toilet of Time.” I remember doing in depth study of a large number of the towering masterworks. One day, both of us were awestruck by Schubert and his Death and The Maiden quartet. I asked, “What is it that makes a Bach or a Schubert, Haydn or Mozart so much better than one of the lesser composers?” My maestro thought about it and said, “I think it is knowing the formulaic response, having total mastery of it, and then going beyond the formula.” I think that is true, and I think it is only very rare souls who can do that. It is someone who has incredible discipline and work ethic, unsurpassed intelligence, and after decades of study doesn’t lose their soul. Rather they can unveil and express it fully aware of both the past and their place in the present and make something of undeniable and enduring beauty and depth.

    The phase we are entered into is one of preservation and in the dark cultivation. In the meantime, most, “art”, and “artists” are moving on from making and being a product to making and being an advertisement of an advertisement of what was once a knockoff of a product. It is Simon Cowell’s wet dream.

    On the margins, the makers and connoisseurs of real art will flourish. Someday, there will be a reconnection.

    I saw an article the other day where China is building entire research centers that are replicas of European masterworks. They are also pumping in classical music. They are searching for the magic sauce of creative genius so they can immerse their researchers in an environment that will make them the leading innovators that The West has traditionally been.

    I am doubtful that they will be able to copy it. It springs from a soul, a bio-spirit. Time will tell. One thought I had is that perhaps what will be discovered is that that creativity sprang from a people and their place. What if China has such a desire for what The West and only The West so far has produced, that maybe they will conclude that they need to destroy our ruling rabble, restore our people and our homelands so the beauty, art and expression they so admire can spring again from the only source it can.

    • Since I have an empiricist temperament, I tend to be skeptical of transcendent ideas like objective beauty or objective quality in art. However, that same temperament makes me notice your report that “China is building entire research centers that are replicas of European masterworks. They are also pumping in classical music.”

      That asians admire western art suggests the existence of an objective standard that transcends particular societies and individual preferences.

      • This is true. As I’ve mentioned before, at the College of Music and Arts at my old university, we have a surfeit of Asians—and it’s noticeable. That tells me that their families and nations appreciate the Western arts, especially classical music.

        • The Conservatory I attended had the piano department filled with young women from Korea, Japan and Taiwan. It was effectively a finishing school for many of them. The level was extremely high. Many of them do not make it as a solo career in classical music is practically impossible. They go there and do there best but will go home and raise a family.

          They will be music teachers and pass on the skills, knowledge and appreciation of our once towering musical culture to their children. They see great music and skill as a part of forming a full and highly capable person.

          Meantime, our kids watch negrified Spiderman and listen to pant-hooting over digitally stitched together samples of degenerate music.

          We must take control over our families and our children as the Asians have. Leaving the kids alone with the TV, internet and sports is only going to lead to more waste in a bigger wasteland.

          What we can and will do if we put in the effort is preserve the craft and artistry for our posterity, but our genius for self expression will someday reconstitute and those rare geniuses who spring from our people will create new forms whose heights match those of Greece, Rome and Western Europe until the 20th century.

          If we are willing to make the effort, in a century or two our posterity and the world will reap the rewards. It is a tall order, but we have faced stiffer odds, though never these dire circumstances of being targeted for genocide in our own homelands by our own rulers. Let’s defy the odds and become deserved legends. It is either that, or forgotten forever.

          • I hope you are right. You sound very Randian and could be quoting from Atlas Shrugged—published over sixty years ago. People scoffed then—bet they’re not scoffing today (if alive).

      • I would say it suggests that East Asians, in the main, are intelligent and refined enough to fully appreciate the glories of white civilization. The same can hardly be said, generically, for negroes, Arabs, Hispanics and Amerindians.

    • It sounds like the Chinese in your description will be eschewing pretty much everything post 1900 with the possible exception of the Art Deco movement. We should do the same.

      High art began its hibernation with the late Impressionists. Art Nouveau, while beautiful and often celebrating classic western beauty and themes, rarely reaches the definition of high art.. Too mass produced and completely intertwined with the advent of art/commercial product placement.

      Dada, modern and post modern art became the avenue for the hacks, the untalented and the morally bankrupt to put on the laurels of “artist”. Even the height of modernism… the Mid-Century movement, is bereft of any soul. Form is sacrificed to function and an Eames chair cannot even match the simple functuonal beauty of a Shaker dresser or even a 17th Century ox yolk.

      Movies as a new art form and existing in a time of unprecedented technological growth… encapsulate the history of art in a shorter time period. You can look at them as a microcosm complete with primitive, high, low, commercial, mass appeal and decline phases condensed to a 100 year span.

      If you look at the current state of Leftist (I am getting tired of the phrase “woke”) film-making you can almost make the parallel to the Church’s influence/restrictions on art in some parts of the Renaissance.

      While the Church helped fund and produce incredible works of art, at times their demands upon the subject matter inhibited great artists from sallying out into non-Christian themes. At times bigger minds appreciated and supported the celebration of ancient Greco-Roman world, but outside of that… art was greatly restricted.

      Hollywood is in this same religious suffocation phase. Their new religion allows for “art” provided it portrays righteous themes and adheres to the religious restrictions. The approved portrayals are tropes now: girls are Mary Sues or girl bosses, homosexuality is beautiful, White men are the villains or weak incompetents, minorities are brilliant and righteous, the past contains only racist ugliness, etc.

      We are starting to see the worm turn though. Hollywood is hemorrhaging money. Audiences are largely rejecting the doctrinal themes imposed by the Studios. People seem to be hungry for different themes. Top Gun 2 was popular because it was a simple portrayal of the noble warrior. Oppenheimer, while a bit over-rated and clearly Nolan trying to produce Oscar-bait, drew people hungry for something a little more polished and thought evoking. Even Barbie drew crowds of females because (while still being “woke”) they are desperate for portrayals of women attempting beauty and femininity.

      We live in interesting times. There are positive changes afoot. We just need to remember what we’ve forgotten and what the Chinese seemed to have discovered.

      • My apologies. I walked away in the middle of that to make coffee and didn’t think to use brevity when I came back. Posted and then saw how long-winded that was. Mea culpa.

      • In theory film should be the highest art. It should be opera but with moving images and special effects you can’t do on a stage.

        I think the apex of film making are the story based films. I think Visconti’s “Il Gattopardo”, (The Leopard), is a high point both with the story, (highly relevant to this topic), the music and the aesthetics. I think some modern TV series came close. The first four seasons of “The Last Kingdom”, was great until they vandalized it with, “diversity.” I turned it off when the 9th century black monk was introduced. I am not going to watch that garbage or support it in any way.

        In any case, film has huge potential but in a mercantile society, it has and will struggle to reach it. Of course, the least artistic of any of film are the art films. Those things are wretched!

  17. Art isn’t to be analyzed but experienced.

    But why has so little art — or even minimally competent gestures in the direction of art — been produced by rich societies full of educated people with plenty of material and free time?

    • Because those societies are materially rich but spiritually and morally bankrupt. Also, they are set up to churn out highly technical workers and build businesses. That edifice is set up not to make art or beauty, but to make product and make the green line keeping going up and to the right.

      The financier and merchant’s dream is a nightmare.

    • The argument has been made that a certain amount of hardship and suffering is necessary to produce a large quantity of art. How does one write the great Russian novel when everything goes so well in America? Went in America. We may producing lots of great art in AINO here directly…

  18. “…the same reason no one will talk about Madonna songs in the 22nd century. This sort of crude entertainment has nothing important to say about the people who produced and consumed it.”

    Or perhaps it says that the people who produced and consumed it were not important enough to remember.

    • Point made, but perhaps with too broad a brush. Since you’ve picked Madonna to hang your music point on, I’ll use her as well.

      Your claim that Madonna songs are purely “pop” with little to no underlying meaning and hence societal value, let me reference one of her early hit songs, “Papa Don’t Preach!”

      Here’s a verse underlying the song’s point/meaning:

      “Papa don’t preach I’m in trouble deep
      Papa don’t preach, I’ve been losing sleep
      But I made up my mind, I’m keeping my baby, hm
      I’m gonna keep my baby, hm”

      This song became popular in the midst of the societal uproar concerning the legalization of abortion rights. At that time, one tact was to persuade young women to forgo abortion and “keep” their babies rather than abort. Madonna’s song directly addresses that and the pressure a young women can feel from her father wrt his disappointment in her behavior. I’m sure this song talked to a million young women of the time with “daddy issues”

      I’m not sure that the knock on modern music should be that it is short lived, meaningless escapism. I suspect that’s a design feature of the genre. To that effect, let’s recall “pop” music of the late 1800’s, “Bicycle Built For Two”:

      “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do
      I’m half crazy all for the love of you
      It won’t be a stylish marriage
      I can’t afford a carriage
      But you’ll look sweet upon the seat
      Of a bicycle built for two”

      Can’t image a more meaningless—but pleasant—melody and lyrics.

      • Those lyrics are wretched. They make Hallmark cards sound like The Bard’s prototype.

        Don’t lecture me daddy. I got knocked up and I am going to have this illegitimate child. Eh…. Not so much.

        One thing that has high artistry is Chris Cornell’s cover of Billie Jean. He nailed that song. If there is a pop song about an illegitimate child and a deep soul who understood the text that would be it.

        What a difference between a crotch grabbing skeleton under a grease mop singing that song with massive affectation and weird turrets noises coming out and the master poet and singer Chris Cornell getting ahold of that song and absolutely nailing the essence of it. Artistry that has to say something vs. performative angst that has to sell something.

        • The language sung is the language of the people at that time. Shakespearean poetic it is not, but that was not the claim. The claim was that it was not meaningless. It has a very topical point for the time. Who writes in Old English these days? Even Beowulf is most often read today in modern language translation. It loses none of its import as such.

          • It wasn’t the language, it was the quality of the poetry and the quality of the idea it was expressing – which is abysmal.

      • Compsci – I’m imaging the Papa Don’t Preach lyrics sung by Hal whilst being deprogrammed in 2001 Space Odyssey movie vs Bicycle Built for Two – doesn’t work nearly as well.

    • I used to like her early stuff, “Borderline”.

      But once she got off with that “Papa Don’t Preach” phase, I tuned out.

    • Hummm. Actually, I thought it was somewhat “multicultural”—at least in the West. Who (non-Jew) the hell would watch a story about a bunch of Hasidic Jews in Russia if there were not themes/values which struck a cord in their own lives? People in poverty making due, families with problems with their children’s “choices” in future life direction, rapprochement between estranged family members, etc.

      • Ah, but the Fiddler casting is always so offensively pale. Funny, it’s pale in all Anne Frank movies too.

        Meanwhile, goyish figures like Ann Boleyn and Hamilton are now played by Africans.

        I wonder why that is…

        • I’ve been saying for a while that someone needs to do turnabout is fair play.

          Do a series of Israeli Kings

          David and Solomon with an entire cast played by Hutus. Kanye West as David and … hmmm…. Ice T as Solomon. Solomon wearing a Kangol and gold chains and being a gold plated gangsta in a jacuzzi in a climactic scene would be hot!

          We also need an Oppenheimer or Einstein film where his black assistants pen the theories and have the key insights that were essential.

          I would love to see the hand wringing and kvetching that would inspire. Someone with the means please do these and get them on Netflix.

          Bad Goy Productions Presents

          • Mendelssohn was actually a negro, you know. Original name was Ja’Tav’ious, but his parents changed it to Felix to lessen the likelihood of discrimination…

          • Can you imagine the screaming, hair pulling, and gnashing of teeth if there was a movie giving a black secretary the credit for Oppenheimer and Einsteins inventions!

          • Good stuff Ostei. NateG. I want somebody to do these sorts of things so we don’t have to imagine it.

            Good for the Goose. Good For the Gander.

  19. It is simultaneously funny and sad to see what is going on around pop culture today. The entertainment industry of the USA completely ran out of ideas (both good and bad) somewhere in the mid-2000s, and turned to cannibalism. Disney’s entire operating model for the past decade has been to make stuff it already made, when it was a far better company, and then to buy another company and remake their stuff. It worked for a while because the dominant consumers were happy to spend new money to consume old stuff again, but that well is running dry and there are no new wells. It just speaks to the intellectual and creative bankruptcy of our age, another sign that the American project has run out of steam.

    The fact is that our culture is moving on from the long shadow that the boomer youth has cast upon it, and all their stuff will soon be forgotten. Stuff like Star Wars and the Beatles seemed eternal for a long time, but it turns out it is not. The younger people don’t want to watch the 5th release of a 1985 movie or a 10th remastering of a 1965 album, which is why they are turning to the exports of other countries (like Korea and Japan) for their entertainment. We are moving to a multipolar world not just militarily, not just politically, but culturally.

    • I’ve never thought much of the Beatles’ music was timeless or enduring. It always sounded dated to me. I’m sure it was a big deal at the time, which was a little before my time. I guess you had to be there. I give more credit to Leo Fender, Orville Gibson, and the Ludwig brothers than I do to the quartet from Liverpool. I figure after what the former did, the latter was inevitable.

      • Eleanor Rigby qualifies as an art song. Possibly Hey Jude, too. That may be just about it for the Beatles. And I like the Beatles quite a lot.

  20. I don’t think I ever saw the Snow White movie. What I do remember from my childhood is Andrew (((Dice))) Clay having a different, lurid take on it. My age group never had innocence. Not from day one.

  21. The progressives have you on this one. They will tell you that ruling class taste forms the canon of artistic worth from age to age. Many technicians can explain why the Mona Lisa is great art. Critics can rhapsodize about the subtlety and nuance that enrapture their souls. Trouble is they’re after the fact when what they behold has already been deemed great art. It’s said that the English never saw a sunset ’til Turner painted them. And today’s mystique’s burning question: is Mona Lisa trans?

    If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears the Brothers Grim nor sees the original Disney version, will the Bowdlerized Snow White be deemed great art to last a millenium? We have no way to judge but to vaunt our biases. Infuriating.

    • Spotify, or something like it, suggests the possibility that music which wasn’t appreciated much in its time, would have been forgotten and long out of print, will be preserved digitally until one day centuries hence it becomes a hit.

  22. Not all art is transcendent, and even the art that stands the test of time is only possible if the succeeding society is still of sufficient quality to appreciate it. For example, very few within our current Western society is actively appreciative of classical music, fine art, great architecture, or eternal literature. IOW, there are no museums in Africa for a reason.

    And that is the real story that must be told. Our species is in decline. The best cohorts of us are dwindling at an accelerating rate, both through dilution and evaporating fecundity. Natural selection is dead and has been replaced by an artificial variant of suicide by negligence. Affluence means that there is no price to be paid for stupidity, and hence there is no longer any driver for excellence.

    The death of timeless art is a lagging indicator of how far we have fallen.

    • Too true, TomA.

      To advance a seemingly trite example, think of the use of classical music in a number of the Bugs Bunny cartoons. Without the wider acquaintance in the culture with this repertoire, they would never have been made as they were. Then move on to the collaboration of Stokowski and the Disney studios to generate Fantasia, the theme music of the TV show, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, being Reznicek’s Overture to Donna Diana, or the theme music for The Lone Ranger being a section of Rossini’s William Tell Overture. More examples could be adduced.

      • John Williams cadged the “shark attack” theme for Jaws from Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. His “Princess Leia’s Theme” comes from Reinhold Gliere’s Symphony No. 2. Not exactly what you’re talking about, but similar.

    • Natural selection never stops, it just doesn’t always go in the direction you want it to. Right now the fittest specimens of humanity are moronic negroes waddling around in an environment that feeds, takes care of, and worships them.

      Of course while a chicken may be the fittest specimen of avian evolution on a chicken farm, as soon as the chicken farmer is gone hawks and eagles flip them the bird and once again rule the roost. Become cock of the walk. Ruffle some feathers. Make them eat crow. Establish a new pecking order.

      Why are there so many bird idioms?

      • A bird in hand is better than two in the bush.
        The early bird gets the worm.
        Birds of a feather flock together.
        This is for the birds!

        You’re right, there’s a whole brace of avian idioms.

  23. Art requires two things, from my definition. First, it must hold a mirror up to general human nature – even if that mirror is distorted a la a house of mirrors. This would be the timeless/ universal aspect. Two, experiencing art must be a passive one. The audience must first submit to the author’s perspective (e.g. watching a film silently, looking at a picture, reading a book), and then they can respond. Media such as video games cannot be art, for their entire schtick is making action that empowers the player instead of forcing them to submit to the author’s perspective. Games respond to input – it should be the other way around.

  24. The reason no one thinks about the pop songs of the 19th century

    A lot of 19th century pop songs simply made it into the general cultural vocabulary and we still know them today

    Oh, Susanna
    I’ve Been Working On the Railroad
    Battle Hymn of the Republic

    Those were all popular 19th century songs. Not to mention the Star Spangled Banner itself.

    There’s an enormous body of Christian song from the 19th century, many of which my church sings at worship on Sundays. They were popular tunes of that time.

    Yankee Doodle is 18th century and the tune is much older
    Greensleeves is older than that.

    The best and most influential pop music of each era survives the passage of time.

    We have such a large body of classical music (Romantic, Classical, Baroque, etc.) because there was such an organized system of preservation and performance. Some classical music was also “pop music” of its day.

  25. One thing about movie making that few people know about is that it’s a perfect vehicle for money laundering. All kinds of bills flow through, from craft service to “design consultancy.” One of the best ways to move money into the system is to have a complex invoicing system for expensive artistic trades. What does a wig cost anyway? So if a movie “loses money,” sure, but it may have done its job in other ways. You would never see this with real art. The first rule of defining art is that it was intended to be so from inception, and not for other nefarious or duplicitous reasons.

    When Marcel Duchamp put a urinal on display in 1917 and called it art, ushering in a new age of degeneracy in art, his intention was not making art, if anything it was deconstructing and destroying art, therefore it should not be considered art.

    • Please elaborate on the money laundering angle. In common vernacular, the phase “money laundering” refers to clearing cash money derived from illicit activity (e.g., drug sales) and so is usually done by cash businesses. Laundromats and car washes come to mind.

      Movie studios are not cash businesses. How would a movie studio launder money? Also, the studio is paying out money, not taking it in.

      • The production companies not the studios. The ones with the bizarre names “Little green men productions.” Etc. Most movies are sh t that you’ve never heard of. Not Ironman 2.

      • I don’t take that strict of a definition. WRT movies, it involves the hiding of profit from the bottom line and that in effect reduces obligations to investors and Uncle Sam. The terminology may be wrong, but I get the intended description of the process/motivation.

  26. Beauty in the eye of the beholder and all, the very definition of ‘beauty’ has been gang-raped and uglified by our miserably decadent, perverted insect overlords. You can very well bet that there are people out there who have managed to convince themselves that Piss Christ is ‘art’ and Titian’s The Penitent Magdalene is trash, that ookish Michelle Obama is ‘beautiful’ and Lovely Melania Trump is a homely tramp.

    I can’t help but notice the yawning chasm of difference between literally anything built in ancient Rome or Greece and what is slapped together today and passes for ‘architecture’. Did we collectively lose our sense of beauty and refinement? Or is ugliness being forced on us, beaten into us, demanded from us by the new order which seeks to erase the glorious past in advancing their evil agenda? How many kids today only know of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello as animated green mutant superheroes?

    • Ugliness is being forced upon us.

      Why else would Peleton have nothing but fat, ugly Sheboons in their advertising?

      My wife and I laugh anytime we see it, and wonder if they think that’s the target market.

      • Ugly people–both physically and morally–want an ugly world because it makes them feel at home.

        • It is more punitive than palliative, though. As you convinced me, PoMo is rank nihilism. Feeling better about oneself is secondary to making others feel worse. Beauty is hated more because it gives others pleasure than due to any perceived sleight, which is certainly a thing although not the main one. Beauty has to be destroyed because it is beautiful.

          • It could cleave rather along racial lines, Jack. Negroes palliative, whites/Jews punitive.

    • Beauty in the eye of the beholder and all
      Yes, it should be Different types of beauty or something like that. Ugly people do not get a say.

    • I can’t help but notice the yawning chasm of difference between literally anything built in ancient Rome or Greece and what is slapped together today and passes for ‘architecture’. Did we collectively lose our sense of beauty and refinement?

      I’ve posited before that economic efficiency is the “enemy” of beauty. If you need something turned out quickly it won’t have the fine details and flowing curves of a hand made Roman, Greek, or even Medieval castle or cathedral. Plus side, you get houses people can afford or buildings that can be put up rather quickly. Minus side you get things that all look the same and become forgettable. I’ve made the analogy of the Model T: Designed to be stamped out by the hundreds of thousands, it wasn’t a very aesthetically “pretty” car. It did what it needed to do, but Ford got surpassed by GM because GM figured out styling sold cars as much as mechanicals.

      Or is ugliness being forced on us, beaten into us, demanded from us by the new order

      Going back to automobiles I’d say yes. In the past car styling changed year to year, with cars having a two or three year styling “cycle”, where by the final year enough little bibs and bobs were changed that it looked different enough from the original design to keep bringing people in. Car stylists tried to “lead the market” and suss out what future styling trends were in time to get the new iron into the showroom. Sometimes they nailed it (1955-56-57 Chevrolet), sometimes they missed badly (1958-60 Edsel, Lincoln, 1960-62 Chrysler Corporation cars), but they were personal visions of the designers.

      Now? Well The Government had to get involved and first fuel economy, and later safety became prominent. Governmental regulations mean every car looks pretty much like every other because there’s only so many ways to slip through the air to get that last foot of fuel economy. Why bother changing the styling because we have to spend money on the safety features and a 10 speed automatic transmission?

      At least we still have cars, for now. And houses.

      • There’s another way in which wealth is the enemy of beauty. Hence, when the common man has plenty of disposable income, he is free to “vote” on what is beautiful, or if beauty even matters, with his dollars. And the common man, alas, rarely has a refined aesthetic sense. He is far more likely to appreciate Jay Z than Leos Janacek. And those who produce “culture” cater to the dollar wad, not the elite stratum.

        PS–The ’62 Polara is my dream car!

        • I dunno Rembrandt managed to convey the timeless ugliness of the rich merchants who hired him to paint them.

          I always wondered if the merchants were happy about how the paintings came out though.

          • I’m certain the merchants were satisfied. Beauty seems to change with the times as has been noted. The merchants probably wanted that look as it suited the perceived “dignity” of their societal status. Today, not so much.

          • Rembrandt’s merchants may have leaned toward homely, but chances are they had better taste than the Dutch peasants. And they, along with the upper bourgeoisie, were the only ones with the wherewithal to dictate beauty.

        • OK, you may be the first person who wanted a car from the shrunken 1962 Dodge/Plymouth line I’ve ever met. 😁

          Then again, it wasn’t the 1961 Dodge with the “reverse” tailfins. 🤨

          And the 1961 Plymouth? The less said, the better. 😲

          But at least they were trying something new. 🤷‍♂️

    • If part of the definition or criteria, if you will, is “reflection of society” then, sadly, much of modern art is art. It reflects a very poor, disturbed, frankly crappy society.

    • Beauty has well defined objective components (golden ratio and all that), thus ugly is being forced upon us. Sure, one man’s 10 may be another’s 8, but they both know a 2 when they see one.

  27. Are movies art?

    Darn it Z, could you just post a political analysis and let us make snarky comments instead of getting all philosophical? Now we have to think. 😒

    You ask “is it art?” and I could riff on Justice Potter Stewart and reply “I know it when I see it.” But that’s trite. Your central thesis seems to be capital A art has to have longevity and either express a timeless message or be a mirror on the culture that created it.

    OK, I shall give you that and agree that no modern sculptor could recreate Michelangelo’s David or Pieta, nor could a modern painter recreate his Sistine Chapel paintings, much less the Dutch Masters like Rembrandt or Vermeer. Partially it’s a change in the view of that branch of capital A art from the product of the creator to the personality of the “artist”. To be an “artist” these days is to be talked about for Who You Are, not What You Make.

    Ah, but movies and plays. Well there I’d say yes it can be capital A art if it calls back to deeper tropes, memes, and themes within society or shared human experience. That Shakespeare fellow wrote for his time and place and yet his plays get performed as is or reimagined for generations. Hamlet, Julius Caesar, King Lear, Macb, oops, “The Scottish Play” (don’t want to curse the Z Blog), even Romeo and Juliet speak to common human themes (Power, the lust for it, and the dangers of chasing it, love, conflict, revenge) that make them timeless past the language within.

    Likewise I would say movies can be Art in the sense that visually they do have memorable scenes or staging that inspire other filmmakers (The Odessa Steps scene in Battleship Potemkin, The creation of robot Maria in Metropolis (and the actor playing Rotwang setting the standard template for The Mad Scientist for decades), The Monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey) and can be recognized or remembered. Further I would say a movie can be Art if, as you point out, it utilizes societal tropes or memes effectively that can be seen as timeless (Chasing power and it’s corrupting influence, Good vs. Evil, Boy meets Girl, Embarking on Great Voyages, etc.) What worked for the original Star Wars came to me seeing an exhibit on it in Chicago’s Field Museum over twenty years ago and seeing a portion on how it drew from societal tropes (The reluctant hero plucked from obscurity, mentored by an elder/wizard/Holy Man, sent on a voyage, building a band of warriors, facing and overcoming many dangers, and finally facing down Evil in a final battle).

    To your point people have forgotten we are Telling a Story and want to Send a Message. Or, Give a Lecture if you prefer. People don’t want to Get a Lecture, they want to be Told a Story. The younger generation doesn’t know how to Tell a Story because everything that came before is racist, sexist, and causes cancer. No, we MUST Give a Lecture because we must Change The World. And we can’t draw on Shared Human Experiences because Cultural Appropriation or something, even though there are stories and themes that transcend time.

    TL:DR, I think movies are Art if they thread the needle between “Light, Sweet, and Forgettable” and “Heavy, Dark, and you WILL Change Your Attitude!” You want something that entertains, but can make you think deeper.

    Now, could you post tomorrow about the Clintons potentially getting back into the 2024 Presidential race? I’ll bring the snark.

    • mmack

      To respectfully add to your list of memorable scenes (from LOTR, a masterpiece of good vs evil, honor, loyalty, sacrifice), the scene where Arowin gives up her immortality to be with Aragon, “for just one lifetime”, always gets me.

      I could probably do more, but I get what you mean.

        Here is a breakdown of the score of the scene in the opening of The Two Towers. The level of detail that went into the score is impressive. The theme originally revolves around the Dwarves fear of the Balrog gradually rising to the Quenya word Mettana! To the End. The battle with Gandalf and The Balrog invoke Lucifer’s fall from Heaven. I remember reading the books as a kid, then enjoying the films. That scene and the piece of music in particular always struck me. With the passage of time, and good natured slightly spergy fellows like the man who curates this sight, the depth of the effort and artistic endeavour that went in to the score is shown to be appreciated. Its bittersweet also, as you look and observe the barren wasteland that we have to muddle through. It does seem with what happens and Disney, and Amazon’s rings of power that the desecration of beauty is done more out of spite than anything else.
        P.s Personally i always found the score that played during Boromirs passing with Aragorn to be very subtle and beautiful. When you read the breakdown of the score you can get an appreciation of Howard Shore’s genius. The shame, guilt and regret of Boromir, and his hope as he dies that all is not gone, he didn’t die in vain. Well worth a listen.

    • “ You want something that entertains, but can make you think deeper.”

      Seems you’ve defined “movie” art in one way—message, meaning. That could be done in written format as well. To me, another important form of movies is visual effect. As mentioned, LOTR’s has superiority in both, but other movies can be art with less emphasis on story. One comes to mind, “The Horseman”, with Omar Sharif. Set in Afghanistan the photography is like a travelogue. The story however is nothing little better than average.

      • That’s why I often rented foreign films, or watched a bit of tv with the sound off and music on.

        On a tiny battery-powered tv, I sat at the Vince Lombardi rest area in Secaucus and watched Chinese soap opera.

        Didn’t understand a word, but I understood *everything* in the story. It was a classic!

    • One of the less appreciated artistic movies IMHO is High Plains Drifter. The sin/punishment/redemption arc, with cowardliness and fear themes is brilliantly done.

  28. Disgusting garbage like Duchamp’s Fountain or Malevich’s Black Square are still remembered over a century later. Is that art?
    I know it is not, but art experts claim that not only it is art, but it’s also revolutionary and even better than what was before.

    • Hun

      Your comment prompted me to look up the “Fountain” by Duchamp.

      I laughed out loud when it popped on my screen. That kind of shit is the submission of an individual with no talent or creativity.

      The fact that “experts” consider it important, tells you all you need to know about that tripe.

      I’m pretty sure the commentators on this site have put an end to the credibility of “experts”.

    • You have to look at the CIA programs to astroturf the so called “modern art” from the 40s. They can force unnatural things on us as long as they are active and have control over money that is what gives them free energy to manufacture consent. When the empire decays all the fake stuff will perish with it as this crip is not going to hold long term.

      But it helps to notice the fakery in the present as it weakens its hold on your spirit. One thing to notice is how our matrix (speaking as a Gen X here) was constructed on narrative that accepted their authority without any meaningful scrutiny (I have visited the MOMA in NYC several times unironically LOL). Notice how today every garbage cultural product is revolutionary, groundbreaking, brave, questions the status quo (all labels to imply deity like awe, like they are geniuses that also faced adversity under an oppressive dogma and they conquered). But we know all is garbage, but for some reason our monkey brains still worry about fake praise neurotically.

      If you conquer you neurosis you’ll sleep like a baby knowing that Duchamp’s urinal is not art and no amount of demonic word magic can make it into a product of genius. Someday maybe some crazy weirdo may vandalize it during its 15min of fame (15min in historic time = a century), it would be fun to watch. But if nothing happens to it, it will fade away anyways.

      • >CIA programs to astroturf the so called “modern art” from the 40s.

        This is important. For a laugh, consider the above in relation to Wolfe’s hilarious (and short) book The Painted Word.

      • “ I have visited the MOMA in NYC several times unironically LOL”

        Don’t use this to prevent a visit if in NYC. Museums are a mixture of the good and profane these days. You’ll never see the difference if you don’t go. You can bypass the trendy and profane and take a seat in front of “Washington Crossing the Delaware”. Breathtaking and thought inducing.

  29. There is a definite transition from “re-imagining” art, i.e., politicizing it, to outright destruction. Confederate iconography often was great art and makes for a good example. The vandalism has transitioned from removal and placement in museums with “contextualization” (Nathan Bedford Forrest, Tennessee) to blatant destruction (Robert E. Lee, Virginia). To usher in Year Zero all art from the before times has to be destroyed.

    So, to answer your question about film: yes. What has been done to SONG OF THE SOUTH is Exhibit A. It originally was “contextualized” but, as you point out, has been destroyed outside of a few digital ghettos where attempts will be made to ruthlessly purge it even there. I can’t put my finger on the exact reason for the reason, but pop music does not have the same impact as film. It obviously has something to do with the visual vs. the auditory medium, but as you also point out classical music may be the highest expression of Western art, so that explanation isn’t complete.

    Confederate statues still stand in many towns, and SONG remains accessible, albeit with difficulty, thus Year Zero never fully arrives everywhere despite best efforts. Look for Beethoven and Mozart to be “re-imagined” soon, but like all else the subsequent memoryholing never will be one hundred percent. The flickering, barely discernible embers keep lunatics awake at night.

    • Just looked for a Song of the South DVD on eBay. None exist. Did the same for Birth of a Nation–approximately 110 copies available. Odd that SotS has been culturally cleansed but BoaN has not.

    • On pop v. film:

      Sinatra gave the American music business the idea that selling music *just happens* once you’ve sold the image of the celebrity. He was a great musician, but that’s not why the girls were screaming and peeing themselves, and music’s not what they were paying for when they bought his records. There had been pop-star hysterias (“Lisztomania”) before, but there was no “mass man” (teenage girls) to fleece. Since Ol’ Blue Eyes hit the newsreels, successful pop musicians have been visual artists—or visual art. Music is some of the sound that accompanies them.

    • “The Shining” is my all-time favorite film. I’ve probably seen it hundreds of times, and it wasn’t until a few years ago that I noticed how the camera follows Jack’s axe as he hacks away at the bathroom door.

      Kubrick was on another level of humanity.

    • David McLean is perhaps the best in this effort. One watches his movies especially for the visuals.

  30. Some truly great popular culture can become art – I mean, Shakespeare and Rossini and Wagner were creating what was in their time popular culture, but because it was such great popular culture, it transcended its genre and became art. Will some of our popular culture, er, transition like this? Probably not, but you never know. In particular, the popular music of the 1920-1960 period produced some exceptional songs.

    • I persist at the piano, and despite never consciously making a choice about it, it turns out most of the songs I want to play are from that era

  31. You know I watched that when I saw your review earlier and it’s amazing, it’s definitely art, also terrifying. I mean, that was a children’s movie and the evil queens goal was to bury Snow White alive and then of course the evil queen is killed by a giant boulder that rolls on her after she falls off a cliff. I watched that and thought l, the children of the past age were more mature than the adults today.

    • Whitney: The original translations of the stories of the Brothers Grimm were quite dark. My father bought a copy of such when I was a tween, and I remember being shocked. How ironic that even our older and sanitized versions are verboten today. These tales were meant to instill folk wisdom in children, as well as both entertain and frighten.

      • I think I’m better off for the dark aspect that I was exposed to as a child (who knew). Today’s children are waay too coddled/protected. I think that has crossed a line a couple generations ago and produces weaker personalities.

      • Dang. Those stories were what we’d call horror movies, today. ‘Dark’ doesn’t do justice. Shocking, really.

        But, I was young, and I had a Grimm’s book with fabulous art. I didn’t realize how fabulous.

        Riding the bus, a lithographer, stunned, asked if he could look at what I was reading. He pronounced the illustrations as magnificent, and asked if I could possibly give it to him.

        Young, uncertain, and foolish.
        Of course it was quickly lost, with all else, soon after.

        How, how I wish I could return, to give an unnoticed treasure to someone who knew and appreciated its measure, that he might preserve it. (It was very old.)

  32. The best art possesses a timelessness that today’s trash lacks. All this zealotry on behalf of die-versity is flavor-of-the-month pap, a soulless modernism (or post-modernism) doomed to annihilate itself at some point, preferably sooner than later. That which is truly valuable will long outlast these current nihilistic fads.

  33. If you think about for just a moment, they are not remaking “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”.

    They are making a movie with a mystery meat female that is not white as snow, no dwarfs, and a major theme of the movie (the power of love, and its first kiss), is traded for Boss girl.

    None of those things (a Snow White female, dwarfs, loves first kiss), are in the movie, hence, it’s not really a remake. It’s a joke that they are part of.

    Honest to God, those people have the self awareness of a dog that licks its balls in public.

    • I recently purchased some White Cloud Mountain minnows and needed names. Riffing off the seven dwarves I came up with Greedy, Moody, Sexy, Silly, Shi**y and Esquire [there were only six minnows].

      That’s all I have to say about a Snow White remake.

      • A classic, a true Classic!
        One for the ages!

        And one who’s popularity will certainly outlast the Joke.

        Let us all, thereby, name our minnows!

      • I’ve not been able to buy a male dog of any breed since our small son found a male cast off, brought him home, and the wife saw him licking his privates—which it seemed was his most favorite repast. She’d never been exposed to a male dog and vowed never to be again. 😉

  34. Based on my family’s reactions to these great classics, I’d say that Snow White and Dumbo are equally great, and not far behind are Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, etc…We shall not see their like again in our lifetime, and maybe not ever…But if civilization survives, the great works of Disney will be revived and watched by children in centuries to come….

    • The artistry involved in the hand drawings of the classic Disney films cannot even be approached by computer- generated images.

    • My kids loved Dumbo. the VHS tape got played so often I could recite a lot of it in my sleep. The crows were hilarious. They were really the heroes of the film, but morons have chosen to be offended by them for stupid reasons.

      • Every time I see the crows swoop down on some chicken scraps I tossed on the compost pile I think of that movie.

  35. Reusing my Green Door comment:
    The one quibble is that I’d found Sleeping Beauty superior to Snow White, though both are very good. Also the discussion reminds me of the video games as art discussion where it is pointed out that while art is in video games, it’s debatable if they are true art taken as a whole. The experience, even more so than film, is just too transient and technology based.

    • Bambi was the greatest box office hit, and sold more tickets than Gone With the Wind…I think for young children, animals have a universal appeal that transcends culture….

      • pyrrhus: I still remember crying in the theater when Bambi’s mother died. While I didn’t appreciate the artistry as a child, I can appreciate it now every day, as the does and fawns and young bucks come to eat the food I put out. The movements and mannerisms of the deer were rendered in amazing accuracy.

    • The Metal Gear Solid series is art, at least the first 4, haven’t played the rest. The 2nd installment is especially challenging. Final Fantasy VI, too. Steampunk aesthetic + fantasy/magic + Bach-inspired soundtrack was a powerful combination. FFVII was beautiful and revolutionary, but I’m not sure it has the depth. Xenogears is an unfinished masterpiece. Real shame they apparently ran over time and budget, and had to rush the second disc. Could’ve been the GOAT, probably still is in terms of story, imo— if you have the stomach for Gnostic themes. Chrono Trigger gets a lot of deserved hype, but I think it’s ultimately a sum-greater-than-parts sort of thing. (Dating myself lol.)

      Otoh, I’m not sure great art is possible lately, my bias towards video games notwithstanding. Vulgarity has triumphed. Certainly the visual arts, architecture, music, and theater have been dead for a while.

      Film is too artificial and passive to my mind. It’s a feast for the senses, but as flat as the screen it’s projected on imo.

      • As far as Metal Gear they’re soon to release a remade Snake Eater which I thought was the best of the series.

        Not gonna lie, the ending of FFX made me teary eyed, but how do I sell someone on the experience. It’s one thing to make someone sit through a two hour movie, quite another to get someone to sink 60-ish hours into a game. The length though is what gives it an emotional investment (i.e., if you just sat down and watched the cutscenes it wouldn’t have anywhere near the same impact, in any).

        I guess the game I think of is Destiny which has amazing music, controls, character and level design, etc. From an “art” perspective it’s as good or better than any Final Fantasy game, but the experience is soulless, like interacting with a very well designed slot machine.

        • Hard to pick a favorite MGS, they’re all so good. Each has something the others don’t. Kind of neat how some video games can be as occupying as a novel and still be as seductive as a movie. It’s a killer medium.

      • The Xenosaga trilogy is pretty brilliant too.

        My favorite “games as art” argument is and always will be Killer7. A game about the nature of political power, the grand chess board, the way nations and great powers think, and how democracy is a dumb sham (seriously, that’s the entire overriding message of the game and the last level in particular, how easy it is to game a democratic system).

        It’s also one of the most bizarre looking things you’ll ever see, which is just icing on the cake. Top tier soundtrack and voice acting. Okay gameplay. One of the exceedingly few fictional stories I’ve ever seen that manage to be about politics without being “political”, I guess I’d put it. Like, given that it came out in 2005 it never says “lol bush is bad” or whatever, it instead says “democracy is bad and conspiracy is the natural way of man, so you have to assume any grand schemes your nation is playing towards are corrupt and not what they say they are”. Fantastic game. Play it on steam or the gamecube, the PS2 version is a broken mess. Now you know.

        • Thanks, lads, for the look into the inscrutable.

          Ever since I saw Galaxia on an Atari, played on a tv in 1977, I wanted a game.

          Sadly, still no- but now, I kinda get it.

          (And yeah, Final Fantasy the Movie was fantastic. The detail! Her eyes, her hair, at the end!

          I snuck in at a theatre, jumping between movies, near the Bronx I think.)

        • Was thinking someone might mention ol’ Xenosaga as I have an (old) review on my never-updated blog:

          TDLR: I was torn on this as the super-larger than life setting was more “Star Wars” than actual Star Wars: bigger sets, bigger characters, etc. The ending though was a train wreck (where half the train cars just disappeared).

          To your point though, if dialog, sets, characters, etc are enough to make a movie “art” then the Xenosaga games are art on steroids since there’s a metric ton of that stuff in there.

      • Sons of Liberty is still my favorite Metal Gear. I haven’t finished playing Phantom Pain; I’m probably a fourth of the way through it, but it’s so vast that I might not ever finish.

        For video games as art, one cannot forget Ocarina of Time, which is perhaps the most perfectly balanced game ever made. That, and the Metroid Prime series.

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