4.15.2004

There are two creative forces, art and entertainment. I wrote about art last week but I think it's important to distinguish between art and entertainment. Art wants to communicate. Entertainment wants to let you feel something other than your real life; this is known derogatorily as escapism.

I have zero problem with escapism. It is an art in and of itself except it doesn't have much to say. Happy Gilmore isn't about to change people's views or inform them. A stand-up comic can use their time as a platform but most of them just want a laugh from you. And we, as audiences, have preferences. We know what we like and what we dislike. And we all need entertainment. Sneering bores who have no time for "vapid, low-brow fluff" are missing some good entertainment. We need art, too. People who can't imagine a good time without a fart joke or a monster-truck crushing something are missing a world of skill and subtlety. Bill Watterson (creator of Calvin and Hobbes) writes that art should be judged by "the quality of perception and expression." I couldn't agree more but those who would hold entertainment to that same standard have closed their minds about entertainment and want only art.

But there's room for both. The works that I find particularly special are those capable of doing both. Art and entertainment are not mutually exclusive. It takes great skill but when it works on both levels, everyone is pleased. These are the things worth striving for, worth sweating blood over in the creative fields.