If there is any group on the left I disdain, it would be the elites of the avant—garde. The pseudo-intellectuals whose membership on the political left is a source of snobbish pride over the less educated and less culturally literate. A snobbish pride is merited on deeper ethical issues, members of the left should laud their beliefs in welfare and human rights over the subcultures that don’t hold those beliefs. Yet, as someone who prefers happy endings, has old-timey bourgeois and aristocratic aesthetic tastes, and claims membership in the schismatic Jewish tribe whom Josephus succinctly mentioned was not yet extinct, I am at the center of a multi-circle Venn diagram that would make the metaphorical Bloomsbury Group and the people described by Rent’s “La Vie Boheme” vomit. What I lack in sadism (a trait they seem to celebrate), I make up for in a healthy schadenfreude and watching literary intellectuals squirm and screech in horror at the sight of a Disney princess gives me a sweet and deep satisfaction.
They spent many decades deriding what they saw as the cowardice of the media establishment at bending to the supposedly plebian tastes of the dunces of America. That was specifically their pretext for rage over the lack of darkness and tragedy in mainstream entertainment. As if there is something inherently wrong with plebian tastes or media that doesn’t swim through the metaphorical feces of the human condition. They had stereotyped the public’s taste as the audiovisual equivalent of a McDonald’s happy meal while disgusting media like Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (a movie which makes an 18th century Ted Bundy into a misunderstood and unfairly judged van Gogh, it literally represents everything I hate about the avant-garde) is intellectually superior owing to its dark and anti-bourgeois qualities.
Now, there is something to be said for class and taste in media but it isn’t necessarily tied to socioeconomic class or level of education. I believe characters, protagonists, anyway, should represent the best values of character, civicism, eudemonia, education, and eloquence since one of the primary purposes of aesthetics is to advance the moral composition and scientific knowledge of the people consuming it throughout their lives. Secondly, it is supposed to have a positive effect on their mental welfare. Horror and True Crime may addict people, they have detrimental effects on people’s chronic mental health among their plethora of other problems.
Many in the avant-garde subscribe to the autonomist school of aesthetics which, pulled out of the asses of Jacques Derrida and Michael Foucault, states that art is freed from the constraints of ethics, which many of them considered to be a bourgeois social construction. While their postmodernist position may feel edgy and bold, it is actually dull and lame because having to be taught preschool ethics as adults is the definition of retarded. You cannot graduate to the sophistication of Tolkien if you haven’t yet mastered the morals of Teletubbies. True sophistication is at the moral echelon of Kant and Bentham. You know, the ethics you learn at twenty-three, not three. Like the Dadaists, they believe art devoid of moral gravity is edgy and profound when, by definition, amoral art is devoid of so many dimensions of meaning it is unavoidably shallow.
Shallowness, itself, is not a grave crime and isn’t, always, a crime, at all. Yet, the avant-garde couldn’t settle for a callousness toward humanity but went full on for ASPD anti-humanism. For some reason, the avant-garde took a particular affinity to the darkest of horror and the lowest parts of the human condition. Their infatuation with anti-heroes of the most hallow and depraved natures out of the feeling of superficial rebelliousness that it seemed to possess against what they considered bourgeois values but that were actually the most basic values of humanity. Certainly, that trend had its detractors on the left, including myself, but the part of the left that controls the media were on the other side. The parts of the left that the entertainment industry attracts lean toward the avant-garde because Hollywood is filled with theater kids who dabbled in politics, not political nerds who dabbled in theater.
For example, Natalie Portman is ostensibly very liberal but one of her biggest roles was in the conspiracy theorist, libertarian prepper, anthem-movie that lionized a sadistic serial killer: V for Vendetta. That movie wasn’t liberal. It was set in a “dystopia” within a middle-class consumerist society where the population were sheeple who didn’t realize how duped they were until the lone-truth-teller unveiled the truth. Unlike most dystopias set in a more obviously dystopian aesthetic. The translation of that is that liberal democracy is a farce controlled by a cadre of elites. Not to mention the horrific pleasure the protagonist took in personally killing his victims. She’s an actress, not a sociologist, and she didn’t consult a sociologist about whether the piece had positive or negative effects on society. At the time, she should have skipped V for Vendetta and shot an alternate ending to the movie before that where Queen Padmé lived happily ever after.
That is all to exemplify the fact that the artistic establishment follows their gut about what they feel is appropriate and right to do with the significant power they wield and that gut is untrained and uneducated in the science of influencing audiences and social demographics. Depending on how deep into the avant-garde they are and how postmodernist their positions are, they may or may not insert a degree of social consciousness and identity politics into their pieces but will seldom get much deeper or more moral than that. For the most part, they are motivated by the subconscious pull of their subculture toward what feels edgy and bold: darkness. Yet, darkness is not as profound or rebellious as it feels. In the end of everything, they won, and they pushed the public to purchase the darkness that they had been complaining about for decades the public was too feeble to appreciate.
Thus the slew of anti-human dark particles of media. It was not merely that Game of Thrones was dirty but that it celebrated the anti-heroes and posited that the sociopathic Darwinism of human nature was so inevitable that it should be surrendered to and that since it is natural that it is, ultimately, the way things should be. It’s not deeper or better than a typical fantasy epic or fairy-tale and for every iota of occasional depth presented by the series, it had quintuple the amount of pornography and violence because apparently the public has the attention-span and desires of a stereotypical thirteen-year-old jock. The changes the literati of the left and the media establishment had been begging for for decades had occurred but it did not make deeper consumers. It facilitated a transition from Cheetos to cannabis. The latter is more adult and gives the illusion of intellectualism yet is ultimately gibberish.
The literati’s belief that darkness was inherently superior to light was borne of a simple cognitive bias: negativity bias. Negativity bias is why cynicism feels smarter than optimism. It is the metaphorical cannabis that made the Dadaists feel like being devoid of meaning was profound and deep when all they produced was meaningless crap. It is why they endlessly moaned that the public likes happy endings and they need to mature to watch villains win and honest, good, people come to destruction. My favorite movie is The Shawshank Redemption and it would have been far less profound and far less deep had Andy lost and the warden won. Andy’s escape and freedom is what made it as good as it was. They waged a campaign for a darker media on the false belief that it was deeper and what they got was just more retarded media.