Films, TV shows, songs, books, why do I have my personal favourites among them? Why am I a fan of anything?
I always wonder how critics compile lists of works they consider to be the objectively greatest. If I ask them, it is very likely they would claim that they only take things like originality, executions and legacy into account.
But, do they, really? Do they actually care about the quality? Or do they only pander to self-righteous snobs? Or are they the self-righteous assholes who think their tastes are objectively the most refined?
Regarding the self-righteous pricks and the panderers, they are relatively easy to detect. All of you have to do is to see if the right to opinion or appeal to authority fallacies are being used. As long as they are a bunch of big mouths and you are capable of reading between the lines, you won’t fall for their deceit.
I do know people who can only enjoy arts and high-quality entertainment exist… and I have no doubt those on the opposite side of the spectrum also exist. Obviously, they frustrate me.
On one hand, I understand why some people can only love escapism; life truly sucks, after all. But, on the other hand, I hate it when they go full pseudo-intellectual populist and assert how there is no such thing as ‘bad taste’.
I also hate the ‘high-quality’ crowd because they can be a hoard of sanctimonious pricks; I have complained about this lots of times. But, recently, I noticed something potentially eerie about them. Let me explain.
When one thinks of a work of high quality, one thinks about the techniques. From my experiences, techniques can improve the human expressions. Can, but not always.
Sometimes, I encounter works of high quality (or seen as such by critics and snobs) which I have a hard time liking. I have a hard time finishing the unnecessary visceral films of Quentin Tarantino, I find Kanye West’s songs undistinguishable from many other pop songs, I find ‘common practice’ classical music too sugary at times and I am inclined to believe some ‘realistic’ films are emotionally heavy-handed just for the sake of being so.
Here’s a list of my favourite works and the reasons why I enjoy them.
I enjoy films like Your Name, The Man From Earth and My Dinner With Andre and anything by Andrei Tarkovsky, Ingmar Bergman and Stanley Kubrick. They thrive to understand humanity through metaphysical means. Even Bergman’s psychological films incorporate metaphysical themes at times.
I enjoy compositions by John Coolidge Adams, George Gershwin and Igor Stravinsky. Unlike ‘common practice’ music, they don’t sound saccharine. If anything, they have an ‘edge’ which I find lacking in ‘common practice’ music.
Despite Rowling exposing herself as a shit worldbuilder and a TERF, I still have to commend Harry Potter for turning me into a book reader and for creating escapist works dense with social commentaries which I wholeheartedly support.
I love Michael Jackson for introducing me to music in general, Phil Collins for introducing me to more offbeat pop music and Chrisye for introducing me to quality Indonesian music.
I love Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code for providing me nuanced takes on religions’ place in our lives, despite Brown’s poor writing skills and the inaccuracies.
I love Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s Bumi Manusia for changing the way I see myself through the lens of Indonesian national identity.
I love Enya for her ethereal, borderline-spiritual music and I love Mahavishnu Orchestra for their ethereal Jazz Fusion.
I love some Marvel films for their ability to incorporate genuine emotions within action superhero narratives.
From all of them, you can easily tell they have something in common: I love them because they personally mean something to me; it is obvious I don’t always care for virtuosity.
I thought Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite was an anomaly. Immediately after watching it, I was mesmerised by the acting, directing and unpredictable plot. Not long after, I was mesmerised by how fun it was to analyse the film; the interpretations seemed never-ending!
I was surprised that I would have a black comedy crime thriller as a personal favourite, that I would like a work simply for its virtuosity. But, after I thought about it, that was not the full story.
The film is a cynical satire… and I love cynical satires; in fact, much of my earliest blogs are cynical satires that felt cathartic to write. The film also has an ominous atmosphere almost right from the beginning… and I am a sucker for subtle sense of terror, which I find more ‘traumatising’ than the conspicuous one.
Speaking for myself, I love the arts and entertainment because they make feel like a human being in a world where cold-hearted pragmatism is king and make robots out of us. Loving them solely for their techniques feels antithetical to what arts and entertainment are meant to be.
As frustrating as the exclusively low brow crowd can be, I still can relate to them on some level; their desire to ‘escape’ feels perfectly human.
On the other hand, I cannot relate to the exclusively high brow crowd at all; their inability or unwillingness to ‘escape’ does not feel human at all. What I am saying is I often wonder if they are even humans.
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