Just Because It’s Difficult Doesn’t Mean It’s Good

I saw a one-man play completely written in the third person.

It was one of those performances where after two minutes I started looking forward to that 50th minute. In the lobby after the performance people praised the show for doing this. “It must have been difficult,” they stated “because of the way it was written.”

I think that’s a cop-out. Instead of thinking of the performance we’re thinking of what happened before the performance, which isn’t the performance, to justify the performance.

Doesn’t that mean something is wrong?

Take something like food. You order a dish at your favorite restaurant. It’s something new. You’ve never had it before. The waiter assures you it’s a labor of love, it takes so long to prepare and the amount of skill needed to prepare it is sky high. WHOAH. This should be pretty good, you think.

Then you take that first bite and all you taste is regret.

Or how about those styles of jazz music that seem to meander this way and that with no discernible form. It sounds like everyone in this group is each taking solos at the same time. But the truth is that it was practiced liked that. This jazz group rehearsed so much to sound this way. They perform it the same way every time they play it.

Or how about the atonal music of the early 20th century, the stuff that sounds like a cat walking across piano keys. Of course, it isn’t a cat walking across piano keys, but music intentionally composed that way. And because listeners can’t pick patterns from it, one book argues, many people derive no pleasure from listening to it.

Take this article from the Telegraph: Audiences hate modern classical music because their brains cannot cope

“We measured the predictability of tone sequences in music by Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern and found the successive pitches were less predictable than random tone sequences.

“For listeners, this means that, every time you try to predict what happens next, you fail. The result is an overwhelming feeling of confusion, and the constant failures to anticipate what will happen next means that there is no pleasure from accurate prediction.”

Or how about any episode of Lost since 2008.

And so on.

When it comes to artistic tastes everybody’s different. If you like something, that’s completely fine. But I don’t think it shouldn’t be because it was hard to do. It should be because you actually liked it.

As a consumer of art I think it’s a mistake to judge the end result by the process used to create it. Just because something is difficult to create doesn’t make it good, enjoyable, or any other word meant to convey that something is worth your attention.