What it Means to be an Artist

Biutiful, a foreign film written by Alejandro González Iñárritu, is a movie I’d seen a while back. It moved me, as it discusses misfortune under a poetic guise. Curious, I decided to check its “tomato” score, and compare both the views of critics and regular moviegoers. To my surprise, most were furious over its length, vague structure, and theme. As an artist, I took this to its core. 

Art is subjective, as is most we indulge in. However, there should be a fine line between how we define entertainment and art. For example, movies such as Amour, Biutiful, even La Moustache, display imperfections, and a merciless perception on death, the dying, and the mad. Though they’re tragic lessons, each is notable to accept nonetheless. For how can we be ready to “possess” our own faults, the mistakes yet to come and be made, if we are to close ourselves in? 

If we allow the lines to blur, art will fail to hold depth. Nevertheless, although entertainment can have its share of effective lessons, they’re not enough to satisfy the themes we have yet to appreciate. Once again, an example. While Marvel has a shred of themes to learn from, it misses that desired depth, which in turn makes “character tragedy” short-term, and merely serves to assist action rather than character/theme. 

In other words, superpowers aren’t what solve problems, as they’re plausible to the imagination, not reality. Instead, hard choices in the midst of trepidation, raw courage (with hints of fright) to fight for the tangible, such as compassion, freedom, and happiness, is what makes art a gift, a contrast to entertainment which chooses to side with adventure and the unattainable over human imperfection. 

I realize this is a firm, almost stern standpoint, but take a different approach. Feel, rather than imagine. 

When you see/read/draw character burdens, feel them as if they were your own. If a character walks slowly, heavy with a guilt which threatens to drown them, feel that guilt, let it tug you down. For once your own burdens emerge, when your guilt or sorrows arrive to pull you lower, you’ll be ready. In hindsight, you’ll be able to accomplish what they (the characters) couldn’t, what most still can’t. 

I also recognize that quite a few of these examples are from one aspect of art: movie production, which isn’t fair. However, you can find it elsewhere: with books, it’s quantity over quality (The Darkest Minds vs. Something Wicked this Way Comes), and with music, it’s modernism over centuries of history and knowledge. Of course, though such changes might fit the times, poetic art shouldn’t be forgotten, nor should modern art that “acts” old be ignored. Therefore, next time you see a foreign movie, or a book you’d see in an english language course, give it a chance – it might amaze you. 

-Emilia D.

4 thoughts on “What it Means to be an Artist

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