What makes something art?
What do you look for from art?
During the lockdown, my housemate and I have had a lot of conversations. Some so inane you’d ask for a compass. Not because you are lost but to perforate your own eardrums to never having to worry about hearing our boring conversation again.There is one topic of conversation we always come back to.
What makes something good?
How come people like certain types of entertainment we consider not good, i.e. Marvel films, Mrs Browns Boys?
While we like stuff that people dislike, (in particular Harry Hill)?
My friend’s father is a skilled painter. Recently he had some insight into his father’s preferences.
Now I am paraphrasing here, and this isn’t the conversation but let me sum up the essence for you.
His father prefers something to be like something that exists rather than something made up. If that makes sense.
Again without mind reading the man, it feels like he believes the purpose of a painting is to reflect reality as is. If you were to show him a photorealistic painting of a chair, hold it side by side to the Sistine Chapel, he would prefer the chair. I would also guess that while he might appreciate Dali’s melting clocks, he would favour aviation artist Adam Tooby.
Now, let me make myself clear. I’m not to saying that Dali is better than Tooby or vice versa. Let me use the great motto of people who can’t justify their own preferences, “It’s all a bit subjective innit?”
There is a larger point I am trying to get to.
When it comes to art, i.e., paintings, poems, film, books etc. The broad canvas can the two tribes be split down the middle?
What I am asking is this: Is there one group of people who feel that art is a mirror and another group who think it is a window?
Do not get me wrong I’m not saying that someone who likes Kes can’t like Lord of the Rings.
This got me thinking about the current “next big thing” Normal People. It has struck a chord with people. I have to say without having seen it, I can tell you it doesn’t interest me. Even the title puts me off.
I’m sure it’s an outstanding show. It looks well acted. The show appears to be clicking with a lot of people. When people tell me, it’s excellent, and I should check it out. I will say “I’ll consider it” knowing full well the consideration period is over.
“Kieran, don’t judge a book by its cover” I hear you say.
OK but if I know I don’t like lemon chicken, go to a restaurant, order lemon chicken and don’t like it. Am I not the least bit responsible for my own dissatisfaction?
Don’t get me wrong but I can kind of tell what it will be.
So based on the trailer and a few people mentioning in passing here is my guess. She is unassuming but is really smart or headstrong or both. He is a bit of rough, but they click. He can’t express himself right, she has self-respect, sends him packing. They hook up, fall apart, hook up fall apart. She goes out with men who are “right” for her, but he haunts that pussy. The family don’t approve of him (someone calls him a knacker in the trailer) he is the bit of rough who speaks to her emotion. The “right” men don’t get her the way does. She sees within him a sensitive soul who just needs to listen to him let him talk on his terms.
Now because people are raving about it means it has a downer ending. Whatever happens, they don’t end up together because this is a modern romance. If this was released a few years ago, I would predict that he died. However, this is the age of social media and tinder. No one breaks up permanently anymore. We unfollow them then at 3am on a Sunday morn we slip into those DMs and if we play it cool enough something else.
Either way, they don’t end up together.
How did I get on?
Do you know what Normal People is?
To the ones who didn’t shout out in the comments, thank you.
Normal People is, with it’s across the class divide romance, and doirty doirty sex is…
Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
In fact, how it probably has some overlap between Jack and Rose in Titanic.
Another thing with Normal People you know the other appeal of it? She is a “plain Jane” (She is clearly stunning, but I am talking in TV terms I mean she looks like Dakota Johnson from Fifty Shades) who is in tune with her feminine. What do I mean? She is cool calm and collected on the surface. People underestimate her but below the surface, a deep intense passion. She is the personification of “silent waters run deep”. He might be a brute who acts stupidly, but if only someone would let him drop his guard and show him kindness. If they would “listen” they would realise he is ultimately a good person.
Do they remind you of anyone?
Think about it.
A little harder.
It’s you, isn’t it?
Of course, it is.
This is essentially how all men and women see themselves. Maybe there are a few exceptions, but Normal People is the TV equivalent of a horoscope.
I don’t need to watch people get paid to reenact my own fuck ups.
If I did Cladius, the King would tell me the lady doth protest too much.
Anyway, why does Normal people not interest me?
Let me put it this way I get enough of how life is through living.
So, when I want to be entertained, I want an escape from reality. I want a brief respite.
That’s why I like sci-fi. That’s why I like stories about people who live up to their own standards. Stories about people who do what they feel is right and do it with panache and a witty put down.
I like stories where the reporter investigates corruption. Speaks truth to power and puts doing the right thing over their own ego. You know, fantasy.
When I sit down to watch something I like to forget. Forget that I am a rotting bag of moist meat clinging on to this whirling cinder. Descending further and further downwards into the eternal abyss. The abyss from whence I came. The abyss to which I shall return.
Does it come down to the fact that people either prefer a facsimile of reality or a total abstraction? I’m sure it’s not. There’s always nuance, like with most things. In fact, some of the most popular things dance the line of fantasy and relatable reality. Look at the popularity of the Harry Potter books and films. Twilight too, for that matter.
Why am I telling you all this?
Well, because do you have any idea how frustrating it is. To be able to see the connections but not have enough wire to complete the circuit? If I could just come up with that idea that marries the mundane and magical, I could cash my check and move to Tahiti. But I can’t force my interest. I can’t come up with the idea, yet.
But maybe you can. Perhaps you have that idea.
If you need help developing it would you mind sending me an email because I want to read or enjoy the next big thing. If I can help be an architect with it, even better. Even if it’s an “I told them not to develop that idea” I’d be happy.
Because ultimately the world is waiting for it.
You can be the one to write it. Can you unify both sides? I hope you can. If you need help drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Always interested in helping developing talent.
Why be Normal People when you can be an extraordinary person?
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