Art and/or/vs Entertainment
As a first step, perhaps one should be clear on the definitions of the two, before we can even begin to discuss them;
“Sorry, but there is a line in the sand that has to be drawn here. Entertainment’s job is to pass away the hours; art should make profound, eloquent and affecting statements about the human condition. I find it difficult to use ”entertain” in the same sentence as, say, “Tristan und Isolde” or “Hamlet” or even “Sweeney Todd.” – Mitchell Kreiger.
“In simple terms, to me, art is a creative expression that stems from the heart and soul and breeds self exploration and self examination, whereas entertainment is just some shit we enjoy that takes us out of our heads for a moment.” – Dave Navarro.
“Entertainment wants to give you what you want. Art wants to give you what you don’t know you want.” – David Cronenberg.
Entertainment is about Performance.
Art is about Revelation.
It is the difference between “acting”, and “not-acting”. If you study the process of some of the great actors of our time, the one thing they come down to, in essence, is getting to a point where you are no longer “performing” a role. You are not acting anymore. And that is the highest state an actor can reach. It is for this that method acting was even created, to finally reach this level.
The interview with Dennis Hopper, where he speaks about James Dean’s “non-acting” acting, will shed light on this. See Video:
I want to return to a clarification of the definition before I continue this exploration…
“Entertainment is part of an evening — mini-golf, pizza, a movie, ice cream. Art is the evening — you generally have to make plans to see an art movie, and then you find somewhere to sit and discuss it afterward.
Entertainment is terrified of losing you, and is willing to change itself to be more to your taste. Art doesn’t give a fuck whether it loses you — if you’re lost, that’s your problem.
Entertainment condescends to what it perceives as your level. Art assumes you’re at a high level and wants to take you higher — it conascends.
Entertainment wants to make you think you’re thinking, but actually steers you toward its chosen conclusion. Art actually does make you think, and allows you to arrive at your own highly subjective conclusion.
Entertainment generally isn’t personal or obsessive or visionary. Art often is.
If entertainment is unappealing, offensive, and hell to sit through, you just wasted your ticket money. If art is unappealing, offensive, and hell to sit through…maybe you should see it again.”
– Martin Blank.
But at this point we come to a fork on the road… on distinguishing between that which “poses” to be art, and art itself.
“All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness.” – Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
“A sincere artist is not one who makes a faithful attempt to put on to canvas what is in front of him, but one who tries to create something which is, in itself, a living thing.” – Giorgio Morandi.
“The role of the artist I now understood as that of revealing through the world-surfaces the implicit forms of the soul, and the great agent to assist the artist was the myth.” – Joseph Campbell.
“Art is not about thinking something up. It is the opposite — getting something down.” – Julia Cameron.
“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” – Pablo Picasso.
“The serious revolutionary, like the serious artist, can’t afford to lead a sentimental or self-deceiving life.” – Adrienne Rich.
“Good art can not be immoral. By good art I mean art that bears true witness, I mean the art that is most precise.” – Ezra Pound.
“Art is a kind of innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument. To perform this difficult office it is sometimes necessary for him to sacrifice happiness and everything that makes life worth living for the ordinary human being.” – Carl Jung.
– What’s the underlying message here?
I’m not arguing the different approaches to art, be it relativist, realist, or objectivist. If you look up Wikipedia’s definition of art, it mentions;
“The definition and evaluation of art has become especially problematic since the early 20th century. Richard Wollheim distinguishes three approaches: the Realist, whereby aesthetic quality is an absolute value independent of any human view; the Objectivist, whereby it is also an absolute value, but is dependent on general human experience; and the Relativist position, whereby it is not an absolute value, but depends on, and varies with, the human experience of different humans. An object may be characterized by the intentions, or lack thereof, of its creator, regardless of its apparent purpose.”
The message that keeps repeating over and over again is that art is that which is not created to make money or entertain – these aren’t it’s sole purpose. Sure, an artist may be commissioned, but his work is essentially a revelation of the soul.
There is an honesty – an integrity – an oath to be true to himself. One is honorable in their art, they don’t give it lipservice. It is this integrity that moves me, and why I feel the intensity of art is something that deserves due notice.
In contrast to that, in most cases films are concieved with the intention of commercialism. That, is entertainment.
It is like the Gladiator games held by Roman emperors. To keep the minds of the citizens dull and entertained by death and destruction so that they don’t wonder about the state of their existence.
Art does exactly the opposite.
The distinction between art and entertainment is not hazy at all, even and especially when a piece of art is also made to entertain. It is a lot like the difference between people who have an internal “bullshit-detector”, and others who easily fall for a lie. But if they are hurt enough times, they also learn. Everyone learns… there is bullshit, and there is truth, and it’s more about your receptivity in seeing the difference, than it is about opinion.