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It's not all subjective, it's not "Just my opinion", it's a goddamn fact!

Big Labowski

One of my biggest pet peeves is people refusing to acknowledge that quality of media is an objective fact. There are good films, objectively good films, and there are bad films, objectively bad films. Films in which the plot makes no sense, the acting doesn't convey the correct emotion, the storyline doesn't keep to consistent themes, the action looks fake, and the pacing is unsatisfying. This is a bad film. No-one will argue this surely... but they do; and when it comes to video games they argue more and more. I'm never quite sure why honestly, but when it comes to video games, some people seem to actively enjoy objectively bad mechanics. They ignore terrible writing, poor optimisation, ugly graphics, obtuse gameplay, and some of the most insulting business practices in the industry and still argue things are brilliant when they're clearly not. A perfect example of this, is there are active fans of 'Fallout 76' out there. Not many of them granted, but there are some people who genuinely claim to love this game and will defend it. Presumably these people are either profoundly stupid, seriously deluded, or both; but they still exist.

And here lies the problem. Chances are, I've not offended anyone by saying, "Fallout 76 is shit", but that's only because it's the consensus. I probably will offend people though, especially as I call other media shit in this article, and it's all because people attach their ego to media. They attach their nostalgia and their experiences to flawed pieces of media and then take it personally when someone explains why it's flawed. Often the media they remember is being mis-remembered anyway, and isn't anywhere near as good as they think it is. In the case of more modern media, it's often hype culture and peer pressure that will convince people something is better than it is. Occassionally though it's just a lack of critical thinking and simply a terrible taste in media.

Yeah, I know. Surely what I'm describing there is "subjective" but it's not. Subjectivity is this context, is a value based on personal feelings, tastes, and opinions; while objectivity is the opposite. Often thought of as not influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions; but it can also be thought of as independent of the person experiencing it. I believe that the range between subjective and objective is so often weighted too heavily towards subjective in peoples minds. People claim almost anything and everything is subjective and treat that as a reason to discredit it. If there's any sense of differing opinion, it's subjective, after all if it was objective we'd all agree right? No. It can still be objective in this case, it's just that the people who disagree are simply wrong! What I'm describing here is the difference between the realist movement and the modernist movement in art, and it applies to modern mediums of art like cinema and video games just as much as it does the classics like painting, sculpture, or music. Realists believe that there are objective qualities to art, that art transcends the individual and speaks to a higher truth, and it's in fact this higher truth that makes it recognisable as art. Art requires a certain amount of skill, talent, or competence to create. It requires effort and an emotional connection. It can't be something anyone can reproduce without trying because without the passion, skill and talent; the art loses meaning. The modernist movement believed that realists where wrong about the objective nature of art though; that so long as emotion and effort went into the art piece, it didn't need to have recognisable form, skill, talent, or anything behind it other than the raw intent. The emotion alone was the art, therefore if you focus on your anger and throw paint on a canvas, that is art apparently. It was an interesting concept; can raw emotion be transferred into art without the care to keep to understood conscious or even sub-conscious cues, cultural trends, and objective ideas of beauty? I think the answer to this is simple, modern art.

Anyone who looks at modern art and isn't already a part of some modern art clique, immediate responds in the same way, confusion followed by revultion. You first struggle to determine what the "art" even is, then once someone explains it to you, you feel insulted by the concept because the piece comes across as either pretentious, lazy, or both. It insults your intelligence whilst making the creator seem frankly narcissistic. All modern art is shit. That's the answer to the question. No. Raw emotion CANNOT be transferred into art without care needed to display something of meaning, be that skill or a recognisable form. Even abstract works follow this rule. Which is why good abstract art is impressive, opening the mind and inspiring throughts and feelings; questioning what additional meaning things could have and sparking debate, discussion, and analysis of the alegories used. Bad abstract works are the very worst examples of modern art. Pointless, pretentious, and meaningless pieces of crap that inspire nothing. They're an insult to the culturally minded amongst us by effective underselling and degrading the very concept of art.

The post-modernist position is that all things are subjective. That life, art, and experiences are fundamentally subjective. There's no such thing as "good" or "bad". There's just your subjective opinions and as life has no objective meanings, nothing is really "true". They consider modern art to be proof of that and I couldn't find that more baffling if I tried.

Modern Art
Source - Mail Online Article

A teenager put his glasses on the floor in a modern art gallery, told people it was an exhibit, and morons started photographing them and eating it up because modern art is fucking bullshit! It's all lies. Pretentious fucking lies people only engage in because they're afraid they'll look stupid and uncultured if they don't "get it". There's nothing to get.

The fact is, the universe is inanimate. It's only through human perception and human thought that something such as the concept of "meaning" or "purpose" even exists. In that regard, sure; art is not a mathematical fact. It's not a universal constant that you can measure like you could the laws of physics. HOWEVER, there's a massive difference between something not being mathematical fact, and being entirely subjective. Art is objective. It represents the human experience. People are generally predictable, psychology shows this. We can reliably work out how people will think and act, and anthropology shows how groups of people and society as a whole interact. Art is the expression of these shared experiences. We're all capable of empathy to some degree, we all understand compassion. We can take an experience from art and imagine what it means outside of that art. How? Because we can internalise others emotions. We've all experienced pain, joy, anger, fear, love, hate, loss, grief, loneliness, and more. We know what all these things feel like even if we've not had the specific experience being described. We can watch a film in which someone cares for their mother dying of cancer. A harrowing experience most of us haven't had, and yet we can understand it. We can imagine the pain of watching our own mother dying. Even if all you have to go on, is the experience of being a child and watching your pet dog or cat dying. You know how much that hurt, you can intellectually understand that the loss is greater and more personal when it's a parent, it's complex yet you understand. You don't need to have felt that pain and yet you simply "get it". That is objective.

The human condition is such that art describes how we feel, how we think, how we are. Deep down there's a sense of morality, a sense of decency, that is universal across human beings. We've evolved with those mentalities, and we rightly fear those who lack them as sociopaths because they are missing part of what makes them truly human. Art is an expression of psychology, it always has been. It's what makes it worthwhile and special. In fact, the concept of worth itself only exists within the minds of people. The universe doesn't have a sense of worth or value. If we allow the post-modernist view of the world to reign, nothing has purpose, value, or meaning; because those very concepts are subjective. But we know they're not, we can show they're not. People regularly and independently of one-another, come up with the same basic values over time.

Art may not be mathematical fact, but it's certainly not subjective. It's objective. You can analyse it, you can judge it. There is good art and bad art. There are products that are made only to make a profit, and they're arguably not art at all. There are pretentious pieces of shit that are definitely not art, and we can naturally tell from experience. What I'm getting at is this...

...I am not just expressing my opinion here. I am expressing facts. We can debate the minutia, but video games are art and that's not up for debate. I'm a realist. I see reality as it is, not through some lens. If I state something you disagree with, it's not because it's "just my opinion", it's because one of us is WRONG! We're debating facts here, I may not always be right about my interpretation of gaming; but that doesn't make it less objective, it means the analysis is flawed. After all, no single person has had every experience, and as such no single person can fully understand all art. THAT is what makes it's feel subjective. It's not really subjective. It's just that one single person can't understand it in it's entirety, alone. It takes a great deal of arrogance to assume it's not the limitations of your experience that makes it impossible to fully analyse art, it must be that the art is fundamentally impossible to analyse objectively. That's frankly narcissistic, and only proves that the person in question can't imagine something grander than themselves.

I hope this gave you something to think about, and I look forward to discussing the art I find in cinema, video games, and other expressions of art with many of you in the future.