I have a naive view of art. I think it’s made up of two things, the medium and the message. The medium is the artist’s materials plus his skill. The message is whatever idea he’s trying to convey with his art. Simplistic, yes, but it lets you talk about art without resorting to what the British charmingly call “art bollocks.”*
Great art, for instance, doesn’t have to be particularly original to be great. This
is about as conventional as they come, in both medium (paint on a ceiling) and message (that God loves us). It’s only the artist’s great skill that makes it great art. On the other hand, this
has an even simpler medium, but more complex message (Seurat is trying to give us the “out of the corner of your eye” view, which points out just how fuzzy, temporary, and context-dependent our perceptions really are). It’s great art because it highlights something fundamental about the human condition. Do all our impressions work this way?
It works in reverse, too. Just as great art doesn’t have to be a heartbreaking work of staggering genius to be great, so bad art fails not from lack of skill, but because the artist’s skill is used in the service of something false. That’s why you can spot “socialist realism” a mile away, though tremendous effort and real talent went into its production.
That’s not bad art because of bad technique, or because the subjects are unattractive. It’s not even overtly political. And yet, everything about that painting is wrong. It’s just false, and you can see it everywhere — the figures’ expressions, their postures, the field, the flowers, even the sunlight seems just slightly off. It’s like something your grandma would paint after a few courses at the Y — the old bird’s got talent, but doesn’t have anything to say other than “kids were cuter back in my day.”
Which brings us to now, when the medium IS the message, as Marshall McLuhan famously said — the stuff on TV is true, because it’s on TV. Seriously, try it for yourself. Have you ever made a sustained effort to not watch TV? I don’t mean “turn off the idiot box at home” (though that’s a great idea too); I mean don’t watch a glowing screen, period. It’s nearly impossible. TVs are everywhere, and they’re magnetic. Even if you yourself have Catonian self-control, go to the bar and watch others interact. There are always TVs on at the bar, and no matter what people are doing — drowning their sorrows in whiskey, arguing sports or politics, trying to get laid — you’ll see everyone’s eyes constantly flicking up to the TV in the corner.
Then watch the TV itself. Being in a bar actually helps here, because you want the sound to be off. TV is a passive medium — if ever the family really did sit around and watch shows together, those days are long past. TV is just background noise now, and the people who do the programming most certainly know it. You’ll get the message much better if you’re not distracted by the content (McLuhan said the content is just like a piece of raw meat a burglar brings to distract a guard dog). Is the presenter grim-faced and serious? Whitey did something bad. Is he chipper and upbeat? Get ready for a fluff piece about a Magic Negro. Are there only graphics, words, on the screen of the most visually-dependent medium of all? The Diversity did something bad.
Which suggests a wonderful line of counterattack. Betcha didn’t see that coming!!!
Art imitates life, remember? (For those who remember their Aristotle, this is mimesis (I had to look it up)). Think of SJWs — by their nose rings ye shall know them. Whether it’s mimesis or Marshall McLuhan who’s ultimately responsible, the whole SJW “look” is ugliness-for-the-sake-of-ugliness. The nose-ringers themselves don’t think this, of course; the message they’re trying to convey is that they’re dangerous nonconformist rebels. But see above — Orlov’s intended message was “communism rules;” the thought that picture actually invokes is along the lines of “I wonder who the Kommissar will shoot first if their flower baskets don’t meet the targets of the Five Year Plan.”
Now, take Herr Sturmbannführer** up there. That’s a serious, dangerous-looking man, and not just because he’s got an Iron Cross and two lightning bolts on his collar. He’d still be a panty-dropper even if he were dressed like your typical dude-bro goober. You see where I’m going with this….
The medium is the message. I don’t care what Trigglypuff has to say. She may have all the facts, data, and logic in the world — I know, I know, but let’s stipulate — and I’m still not going to listen, because she looks like Trigglypuff. Meanwhile, Herr Sturmbannführer impresses me despite myself. I know what he’s about — one does not rise to high rank in the Waffen-SS without committing a few war crimes — but I can’t help it, I’m curious. How does a man like this believe something like that?
We need to use this! Our message is right; our look should be tight. We can’t all look like panzer commanders, but we don’t have to — SJWs are such deliberately grotesque slobs, all we have to do is dress like we respect ourselves. Watch our language and habits — don’t get drunk in public, don’t walk around munching on a greasy hamburger, don’t cuss, and for pete’s sake never wear flip flops, tank tops, or sportsball jerseys.
Meanwhile, the standard rebuttal to any and all Leftist hyperventilating on Twitter, Facebook, whatever should be nothing more than: Posting a picture of the hyperventilator. Your Ace of Spades types, for instance, spend lots of hours online arguing with Matt Yglesias types. This is Matt Yglesias:
’nuff said. The medium is the message.