Something I’ve always felt strongly about is the need for creative work to be accessible. After all, what’s the use of writing the most amazing book in the world with incredibly complex themes and ideas if nobody gets it? How will you get your ideas across if nobody enjoys it enough to read it to the end?
I think that too many people assume that complicated and overly-sophisticated is good. That it means you’re smart, and your work is intelligent. Well get off your high horse because that’s a load of horse shit!
I cite Animal Farm of an example of a good book. It’s got a lot of political satire going underneath it, yet it’s simple to read (I finished it in a night when I was 13) with lots of characters that people get emotionally attached to.
On the flip side is Brave New World. I know it’s considered to be an incredibly thought-provoking book and it’s one of those classic novels in a list of 700 novels that you have to read before you die (or die trying)… but I felt it was awful. Maybe my attention-span is too low, but the language and writing style was so dull and it was a tedious chore to get through it.
Honestly, all the dystopian themes in Brave New World were taken and given the Sylvester Stallone treatment in Demolition Man, and I honestly think a lot more people in the world would’ve understood what Aldous Huxley was trying to say from that movie than the book he wrote.
Why? Because it’s accessible. It’s fun, and in keeping your attention with its entertainment value, you actually sit through it long enough to figure out all those themes and messages hidden under the explosions. Maybe there wasn’t a lot of depth in Demolition Man, but at least it got some of the message across.
Personally, I think it takes a lot of skill to make something fun and accessible, which is why I always cite Terminator 2 as being one of the greatest movies ever made.
On the surface, it’s a sci-fi blockbuster with giant explosions, a revolutionary CG morphing character, and it’s got Arnold Schwarzenegger in it. But underneath all that is a truly human story about parental issues, the value of human life, the importance of hope, and the purpose of machines in our lives.
So what if it had some commercial elements in it? Just because it has car chases and explosions doesn’t automatically make it a Michael Bay movie, just as how if a movie with the pacing of a snail doesn’t automatically mean it’s intelligent.
People say that the best films and books have multiple layers, and you can learn something new with each viewing/reading. Maybe I’m just dumb enough not to have gotten everything out of T2 on my first viewing (in my defense, I was like 12 years old when it came out) but I find that I was able to dig deeper and gain more with further viewings… so that qualifies, right? Furthermore, it was such a fun thrill ride that I would actually want to watch it again and again.
Unlike “deep” movies like Eyes Wide Shut and 2001 – which are so soul-crushingly boring and dull that I can’t pay attention long enough to glean anything from them. I know both of those were Kubrick movies… let’s just say I don’t like his stuff. Oh, and The Shining sucks!
It’s like art, really. Paintings could be incredibly deep and be filled with intense imagery and messages… but if it doesn’t catch your eye, it’s just wallpaper in a frame.
Anyway, what do you guys think? How important is it accessibility, and at what point does accessibility cross the line into sell-out commercialism?