Over the past two semesters I’ve written about video games, movies, the Internet and a myriad of other nerdy interests and pastimes. And now here I sit typing the final column I shall write for this paper.
While there are plenty of thoughtful, introspective articles regarding this subject, this column isn’t really worthy of that same tone.
Despite my articulations that video games can be art and that geek culture isn’t so weird as it’s often simplified, the fact of the matter is that I write about entertainment. In the grand scheme of Life, the Universe and Everything there are far more important things than video games and comic books.
Like how many roads a man must walk down. That sounds pretty good and deep, right?
So rather than contemplate my existence as a writer or debate whether or not it was meaningful to write about what I chose to write, let’s take a step back.
I write about entertainment. My work on the subject probably won’t ever win a Pulitzer prize. Nothing here or anything written on this subject will drastically alter the world as we know it. No revolutions will be started or stopped based on how good or bad the new Star Trek movie is (personally I thought it was pretty great despite some pacing issues in the last third, but that’s not important right now).
While we can analyze media in all forms, looking for deep meaning, socio-political satire and even insightful understandings of the human condition, the point of media—plain-and-simple—is to entertain. Sure, there are games, comics, books and movies that contain these things, and I truly believe that there is potential in those mediums beyond simple entertainment, but at the same time each operates as an entertainment business.
If a movie doesn’t make a profit, don’t expect to see a sequel. If a game doesn’t receive enough downloads, it will be harder for the creator to make more games in the future.
And we should keep this in mind when we react to media too. Nerds are known for their rage when things don’t go their way. In the end we should understand that no matter how much we like the original, it is above neither criticism nor alteration.
I’m sure there are many ardent Star Trek fans who disagree with me and are displeased with the recent Into Darkness (though after 2009’s remake I don’t know what they expected). Similarly, even as someone who only just read the book, I am among a group that looks at the upcoming World War Z as a complete butchering of the excellent novel.
In the end it doesn’t really matter. The original works are still there to enjoy and the new versions can be ignored if one desires. Why get mad about something you cannot change?
So while I shall continue—even after I graduate next week—to write about video games and other entertainment, it’s important to keep in mind that is just that: entertainment. It’s not to say that works in these mediums cannot convey greater messages, but that their starting point is not to be works of art.
Therefore, neither is this column.
And that’s OK. We seem to look down on entertainment, as if it’s not worthy of appreciation unless it has some other artistic value. There are times and places for schlocky fight scenes, gratuitous explosions and exploding barrels. Sometimes it’s OK to like something, even while understanding its fleeting value.
I will continue to search for the deeper, more meaningful aspects of my favorite pastimes, but it’s important to remember that not everything needs that depth.
Enjoy what you enjoy, and don’t get so involved that you stop having fun with it. Sometimes you have to call a spade a spade. Otherwise you run the risk of digging so deep you can’t see the light.