The Road to Hell is Paved With Artists’ Intentions

Can there exist an objective understanding of a work of art outside of the artist’s intention? I admit, I’m befuddled by those who say “yes”.

Whenever this debate arises, I’m reminded of the scene in Annie Hall when the characters are in line outside of a theater. Behind them, a man pontificates on the meaning behind the works of artists from Fellini to Marshall McLuhan. Exasperated, Woody Allen’s character calls him on his obnoxious behavior and produces Mr. McLuhan, who explains to the man that his insights are all wrong.

At the end of the scene, Woody Allen breaks the fourth wall and laments that life doesn’t work this way. He produced a deus ex machina moment that transcends reality, leaving the audience with the shared frustration that awkward situations often have no satisfying solution.

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Qualifying Genius: A Rather Unique Perspective

Can genius be qualified? I think not, but the question came to light when a friend of mine took exception to my innocent comment when we were out having a drink (okay, a few drinks).

Being a fan of Kurt Cobain, I suggested that Cobain changed his type of music (Rock ‘n’ Roll in its current state circa early ’90’s) in much the same manner as Beethoven changed his style of music (what we now call classical composition). When an individual comes along that alters the course of their field through creativity, a unique perspective, and raw talent, I would say that person is a genius.

Yet, how dare I rank a modern rock star with the genius of a classical composer like Beethoven? Ah, but I do.

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Movie Marketers Ruined My Thing Sandwich

Come summer, it’s a wonder movie marketers can keep their jobs. After all, what is there to do? Show a few explosions, a pretty woman in peril, a dangerous situation with an unresolved rescue, someone falling through the air, and the work is done. Presto, movie marketing campaign. It’s a cinch.

I suppose the marketing departments need all those people when the fall season begins and serious movies are scheduled for release. That lasts through Christmas, when the New Year deluge of Oscar unworthy titles appear. Then spring brings more interesting fare as executives jockey to see how quickly receipts from a domestic release can top two hundred million.

Considering they only work eight months a year, how do marketing departments misrepresent your viewing experience so badly so often?

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