Some Critics Need To Stop Acting Like Bad Morals = Bad Art (Oh You Know It’s A Rant)

(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,

Psychime

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9 Comments

  1. This is more or less how I feel about the subject.

    I’ve had fellow bloggers express feelings of full blown anger and disgust about Eromanga Sensei whereas it just doesn’t bother me all that much. We all knew what kind of show Eromanga was going to be from day one.

    That’s not to say I think Eromanga is good, I think it’s awful, but it’s clear that most people are labelling it as the worst show of the season due to fact it has taboo themes, ignoring the other flaws of the series that are arguably a much bigger issue.

    Or maybe my brain defect that prevents me from dropping anything has just made me more tolerable than the average viewer and I’m slowly poisoning my mind.

    Who knows?

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with you on this. I don’t think having ‘taboo’ themes makes something inherently bad. It’s art, it’s fiction and people usually have the sense to differentiate it from what is acceptable in reality. Of course, personal enjoyment is a wholly different matter but most reviews and such are based on personal enjoyment anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You kinda rambled at the end, lol, but I watched the same “worst anime” video and I also disagree with them. My complain is along the same with yours. The top pick, being insanely grotesque, actually looks well animated and impressive since it was made by one guy. 5000 frames, they said. That’s insane. I want to watch it, because it can convey sick emotions so strongly. That’s actually great, and being given a live action adaptation is actually a great compliment to it.
    The video bothered me as well, because PhantomStrider is clearly showing his moral one sided, and it was annoying to listen to.
    Also, their list features OVAs and they’re kinda easy targets. There are worst anime out there, tbh.
    And yes, people need to learn how to be open minded. Some anime challenges your comfort level, and I actually admire those kind of shows. It’s a testament to how diverse the medium can be, featuring every shade of color Japan has to offer.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This.

    Any art (in any medium) that evokes any kind of emotion from its audience, be it delight or disgust, is good art as it succeeds in leaving an impression. A bad work of art bores or arouses little to no emotion from the audience.

    There seems to be a huge confusion between the difference negative emotions art creates and actual bad art.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. While I completely agree with most of what you’ve said, I’ve come to accept that Top 10’s in particular are far more based on opinion rather than facts and actual quality judgement. In my personal opinion I would prefer Top 10’s be like this anyway, otherwise they would almost all be the same or at the very least have a lot of overlap. I do think there needs to be an obvious distinction though. “My Top 10” instead of “Top 10” for example, or at least a disclaimer at the beginning that this is opinion based and not objective. I myself prefer Top 10’s that are personal, because I get to see what the person feels about the topic specifically. Additionally, almost no review or Top 10 list is free of bias. This reminds me of two of my favourite YouTubers. Chris Stuckman who takes a much more objective approach to how good movies are in his reviews, and Nostalgia Critic who is a comedian first and foremost and takes a much different more opinion based emotional approach to his reviews. Both are reviewers but the way they tackle movies is vastly different and I watch them both for different reasons. I think anime reviews are the same way. I do think there is room for both objective and emotion fuelled opinion reviews. I myself try to be as objective as possible while still having some humorous commentary in my reviews, though I probably fail constantly. Anyway! This was an interesting read. I’ve heard a lot of people talking about this type of thing lately.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m totally on board with lists being opinionated, I personally love how NC approaches his lists with entertainment value in mind.

      In this particular case though my issue was with the ignorant attitude the list makers took, implying that becaus ethey found something offensive that everyone else must also.

      They took shows with taboo themes and boiled the fact that they were bad just due to the fact they were taboo. If you think it’s bad give me reasons other than “it offended me and therefor it’s bad”. If you can for instance tell me it executed on it’s taboo themes poorly and was therefor bad I’d accept that.

      Anyway I’m glad you liked it”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I totally get that! People should consider whether the content was handled well or not. There are many shows or movies with darker content that not everyone will love that are still good, possibly even classics. American Beauty and Lolita are prime examples of good movies that handled their dark and creepy/taboo content well. Hell I could go on with a list of movies that were well made, written and directed but had some content that could be disturbing to some people. Also random side note that really has nothing to do with anything, but I don’t like Anime America in general 😅 and it’s because I usually find their videos have this uppity ignorant attitude.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Hmm, I’ve been thinking about similar critiques regarding the subject of certain characters that act against someone’s favorite character. Like, take Ueno from Koe no Katachi. Bear in mind, I do not like this character because of what her purpose in the story entails. I thought she was an exaggerated form of what female snobs are like but it wasn’t believable to me because I don’t think people genuinely act, not necessarily AS bad as her, but just the way she acts seems unrealistic to me.
    But the general criticism against her is solely based on the fact that she wasn’t as nice as the rest of the cast and that the movie would’ve been better without her. Which is just silly to me and even though I don’t like her: I recognize her place in the story.

    Liked by 1 person

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