Friday, June 29, 2012

Artistic integrity

To those who are expecting some reaction to the latest Supreme Court decision, I MAY talk about that on Monday.  Right now the articles and opinions are flying and I'm sifting through them.  When something is this hot and involves legalese, it is probably best for those such as myself to sit out the firestorm until the dust settles.

So this is an "artistic integrity" post, as I am tired and it is late, but I was thinking about this the other day.  I recently downloaded the Mass Effect 3 DLC for the extended cut, which presumably is Bioware's response to the firestorm when it released the original game.  If you care, here is a link to a video explaining top reasons why the ending sucked.

I was disappointed with the ending myself and find the criticisms accurate.  It was as if the last ten minutes were written by a completely different team, and forgot several key moments and themes of the series.  Combine that with the 90 hours or so of gameplay and upwards of $150 across three games, and you have a PR nightmare.

That's the background.  Sorry for the non-gamers.  My point is coming I promise.

One of Bioware's (developer) response to the criticism was to invoke the defense of "artistic integrity."  Presumably this was an attempt to deflect criticism by invoking some principled stance that the developers had to be consistent to their "vision", and in doing so must stand above the flame war that ensued.  Implied in this line of defense is the idea that the critics had no standing, as a work of art must be consistent to itself, regardless of how the consumer feels.

The problem with this defense is that "artistic integrity" is invoked in much the same manner as a crooked ambassador invokes diplomatic immunity.  It is used as a shield to protect the artist as if he had committed some crime in the name of "art" and is thus immune to criticism.  Far from advancing art, art is sacrificed to save the artist.

It would be easy to blame Bioware, but in reality this is just another symptom of our society's rejection of objective truth.  "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" is a statement that could not be more wrong.  And our relativistic society throws art under the bus in yet one more thing to succumb to such a shallow outlook.

Good is beautiful.  Evil is ugly.  Just as there is such a thing as objective truth, there is also such a thing as objective beauty.  Beauty that reaches into the soul and lifts Man to something higher.  And just as Truth leads us to God, Beauty does as well.  Indeed all such true beauty leads us to our true nature and our ultimate destination with God.

The arts are in disarray.  Modern art is the greatest sign of this.  Most of this revolves around the notion that deep down modern art is about the artist, not the art.  When beauty is subjective, art becomes little more than the expression of the artist's ego.  It is turned inward, rather than outward.

The only way art can be recovered is to rediscover objective beauty.  Beauty in the true sense of the term.  Not the "sexy hot chick hawing beer" beauty that our society is so deeply confused about.  But the beauty that leads to truth.  Beauty that elevates and enlightens us.

Bottom line, artistic integrity is not a bullet proof window pane designed to protect the artist from criticism.  It is a principle that speaks to the deeper reality of beauty, that art is a testament to the truth.  And Bioware's abuse of it is simply the latest episode of how our modern society tortures art for the sake of commercial enterprise.

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