(This one gets a bit messy but I hope I got the point across)
I’m sure you’ve heard something like this before from critics of any form of media. “It’s too mean spirited”. “It’s just cruel”. “It makes me sick”. Et cetera Et cetera.
OK. What’s the problem with that?
I find this argument against something being a good piece of art somewhat ignorant if I’m being perfectly honest. If you want to say something is not in your tastes that’s fine but calling it bad because it makes you feel that way is outright wrong in my opinion.
So I’ve talked about this before in my post about Koi Kaze that people don’t want art that elicits certain emotions. While I don’t agree with this sentiment I can understand why people may not want to consume a piece of media that makes them feel unpleasant. But a lot of critics throw out those aforementioned phrases as if they’re indicators of quality, as if every piece of art need toe the lines of their ideals.
For instance I have a fairly pessimistic view of life and people, I think lowly of most by default someone must do something in order to gain my favor. No one has to subscribe to this notion if they don’t want to, I’m not asking them to. But when I say I don’t like shows that are overly happy I make it clear that it’s just my opinion. When I say I don’t like Clannad’s happy ending I mean that I didn’t like the fact that it was happy not that it didn’t do being happy well. Those are two different questions.
So really what made me want to write this was that I just watched a top 10 worst anime list on Youtube. Made by PhantomStrider and someone from Anime America, I didn’t actually find myself too annoyed at the list, mainly because I hadn’t seen any of the shows on it. When PhantomStrider gave a disclaimer of how his top 3 had some grotesque content and to turn away if I was squeamish I knew something was up.
They began talking about the top 3 titles with very little mention of actually quality just talking about how “violent” or “grotesque” the content was. And that’s all well and good but will you please tell me if that was handled well? Something being violent or grotesque or in any way against your moral code does not make it bad art!
It’s as if people like this think that just because a topic is considered taboo that anything that explores or includes it is wrong. Why is Eromanga sensei bad? Is it because the main sexual interest is 12. Yes and no. It’s because the fact that she’s 12 is just self serving. If you were to give me a well handled show where having a female protagonist be so young was the point then while I wouldn’t agree with the morals that may entail I could respect it as an accurate representation of that side of humanity.
Because at the root of this problem I think is the fact that a lot of people don’t want to admit this dark side of humanity exists. Look having art including dark and taboo topics does not necessarily mean you endorse those things by watching them.
Art is meant to express complex emotions that we are not able to communicate using words alone and a lot of those emotions are dark and disturbing whether or not you admit it. It’s like the people who rip Eminem (disclosure I’m a huge fan of his) solely for what his music is about (as opposed to how well he tackles any given topic), generally violence and murder. Without even taking account of how he used this image to play the public like a fucking fiddle let’s consider the content.
Now I will you give you a warning not to listen to this in public or not at all if you can’t handle dark themes. The song Kim of the Marshal Mathers LP is a song about Eminem murdering his wife, her boyfriend and step son. Is it pleasant to listen to? Hell no. Is it anything other than a psychopathic fantasy? Of course not. But if you were to say this isn’t an accurate representation of how some people feel like going out and doing to others your wrong. It is an accurate representation of what Eminem may have wanted to do and that in itself is art. It’s very dark and disturbing art but it is good art.
I could go on and on with examples but I’d go on forever. The point is that far too many people (in my estimation) see taboo topics or detestable morals in things and act like that makes it bad art. Superman shouldn’t not kill people because it makes him a bad role model or anything like that, he shouldn’t do it because that’s not Superman it’s a different character.
If you don’t like any given type of content that’s absolutely fine but don’t act like somethings objectively bad just because you don’t agree with the content.
I hope you enjoyed this rambly rant, if you did please follow the blog and leave a thought or two in the comments.
Thanks for reading,