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Self-Awareness in Art


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This is a thread I wanted to make for a while but never find the words for the first post, so I'm just gonna keep typing until something happens.

I see this getting discussed a little bit, or maybe just thrown around when reviewing an album, video game, movie, etc. but I was curious to know your opinions on the importance of being self-aware whenever creating anything.

I've noticed that whenever someone tries to establish a statement, or put themselves on a pedestal of importance that the message being conveyed can come off in the completely wrong way. I'd like to list one example that a lot of people bring up - Braid. I've seen a lot of articles talking about how Jonathan Blow comes off as pretentious, and it seems like it gets to the point where it hurts the image of the game. Not in all cases but a few.

I haven't played the game personally, but I do know it looks fun from a few lets plays, and the Prince of Persia mechanics make for great puzzles throughout the game. But for whatever reason that stuff seems to get clouded behind the games message and whatever self-importance it's trying to establish, to the point where you're just tired of being preached at and quit playing.

This happens in music a lot too. Linkin Park is a great band, musically. The way they mix rock with rap was absolutely mind-blowing to me as a kid, and their first two albums just sound good. But I personally have trouble listening to them that much anymore because of the shit they say in their songs. It almost makes me depressed to listen too, but not in a good way that a drama might. The lyrics aren't even that great to be honest, and whenever you have someone screaming self-pity through a mic it ends up taking away from the actual music, which again is pretty good.

On the other hand, there's an album that I think hits the self-awareness nail right on the head. It's an extreme example (just to get the point across), but My Chemical Romance. Specifically The Black Parade (Never really listened to their other stuff). It just seems like it does its message so well. How so? It's just fucking crazy. Yes, it does have very morbid and depressing lyrics most of the time, and the singer sounds like he's just crying at others, but they never seemed to put themselves on some sort of pedestal of knowledge.

I think the most important thing is that they just sounded like they were having fun, and putting the music first. It was a concept album, about a guy looking back on his life after death, but because it went so over the top at times, you can tell they weren't trying to shove some kind of deep message down your throat. Again, it was just crazy, and fun to listen to. It never felt like the singer took away from the music, and in fact added to it.

I wanted to list two music examples cause it's all that I can think of at the moment. And this really just my interpretation on things; it could be completely wrong.

Again, I was just making this to see your opinions on this. If you're just trying to shove a message down peoples throats can that actually ruin your art? Maybe you guys know examples of video games or music or movies that do this, or that actually get hurt by this? Maybe there's a line and once you cross it the art starts to suffer?

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I'm not sure "self-awareness" can be described as "shov[ing] a message down peoples throats." I think "preaching," as you mentioned, may be more appropriate. But what I think you're getting at is the heavy-handedness or repetitiveness of a message that results in the consumer of the art becoming fatigued by it. I picked that up from your Braid example where you said "you're just tired of being preached at."

I personally don't have a problem with Linkin Park's new stuff for the most part. I rather enjoy a lot of it, but I definitely don't feel like it's "screaming self-pity" either. I think our differing points of view come from our own perceptions of their goal and our own past experiences in consuming this type of music. I personally believe their songs mean things, but I don't believe that they are actually experiencing those self-pitying emotions at the moment or during the song. This helps me get past that "woe is me" message I think you're picking up from their music. I just see it as music I can enjoy and occasionally analyze if I feel like it.

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I don't mean to sound like I'm bashing this stuff by the way... I wouldn't even make this thread if that was the intent. It was more about how the way an artist could express a message negatively affect the art even if it's well thought out or a good message. I'm not too good at putting thoughts into words so hopefully that clears it up.

I couldn't really think of any other way to express what I was saying except "lack of self-awareness" or whatever. I'll edit the post soon to clear it up..

On the Linkin Park thing I haven't listened to their newer stuff so can't comment on that (really Linkin Park was not the best example, it was the first thing that came to mind and I just went with it). It is a perception thing, and even though I like their older stuff, it does feel like the misery they put into the music becomes overwhelming at times. I'm not against expressing yourself in anyway, but when you're creating something I feel like it's good to look into yourself and understand where those feelings or thoughts come from, and not to completely overdo things like you said..

Edited by urdailywater
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Oh I don't think you're bashing, I was just a bit confused with your terminology.

I get what you're saying but at the same time art is expressive and not everyone is going to agree with the message or method of expression. If the artist is content with their message and delivery then I say that's good for them. (Again, not saying you are against that or anything, that's just my thoughts on the matter.)

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