So there’s something that’s been getting on my tits for a really long time (basically ever since people started really loudly pointing out the dearth of people of color and women in mass media) and I think I finally figured out why. It’s that common refrain of “It’s just a stupid action movie/comic book/pulpy novel/badly written TV show, why are you getting so uptight about it?”
I’m not even going to touch on the idea of representation being important. Hundreds of other people have talked about this much better than I ever could. No, what’s bugging the shit out of me is this attitude of “It’s just crappy mass media, it doesn’t matter.”
Well, let me tell you a thing. It does matter. Of course it fucking matters. Because art matters.
Maybe there’s just some kind of weird disconnect where people don’t quite get that mass media is art. But art doesn’t exist in some rarefied isolation that’s confined to museums, or only if it’s deemed worthy by some sort of cabal of people with excellent taste. That’s not how it works. Most of the art we’re going to interact with throughout our lives will be mass media, in all its often cheesy or shittastic glory, because that’s what’s out there, and easy to get, and frankly fun. Fun stuff is also art, you know?
Popular art is still art. Art you don’t like or don’t get is still art. Deliberately pandering art is still art. Mass market paperbacks are art. Comics are art. Movies are art. And while that means, say, 2001: A Space Odyssey is art, so is (god help us all) Sharknado. It was still created by us, and consumed by us, and says a hell of a lot about who we are as human beings whether we like it or not.
So yeah, when someone says that I shouldn’t care about Movie X because it’s just the crapulent summer special effects tentpole, what I hear is: “God, shut up, it’s not like art matters.”
No wonder I get so pissed off. Because art does fucking matter.