Art vs Entertainment in The Comedy

Last week I saw The Comedy, a new movie by Rick Alverson starring Tim Heidecker.  The movie follows Heidecker’s trust-fun character through a series of social interactions. We watched as the Brooklynite explored his world by feeling out the boundaries of the less fortunate.

It’s peppered-in moments of comedy were special but insignificant.   The movie stops abruptly as the character is splashing water on a little kid at a beach out in Brooklyn.

After the screening, Alverson and Heidecker, in attendance joined on the stage to answer questions.  Alverson noted that Americans want to leave a movie theater with answers, and this film was not intended to do that.  He made a point to mention that he didn’t care much about the audience when making the film.

My initial reaction to this is positive.  Film as an art form is something to be cherished.  I can appreciate that.

In my undergraduate creative writing courses, I’d often come with a story that ended in some mundane way.  “Signifying nothing!” I’d say.  My peers we’re unmoved.  They would tell me that as readers, they needed to be entertained, understood, talked to.  I would change my story to mean something a little more concrete, but I was never happy about it.

Being on the other side of this debate, I now see what my classmates we’re saying.  There needs to be a balance between art and audience.  Though I deeply admire “The Comedy” as an artistic piece on Brooklyn subculture in 2012 America, as a movie that an audience pays $12.99 to watch, its pretty shitty, really.  Though I know the ultra close-ups and long panning shots, are a stylistic, purposeful decision, for an audience it’s pretty miserable to watch.

This all pains me deeply to say, because goddammit I want art.  I want filmmakers to make what they are passionate about, and I want us as a society to pay $12.99 for art too.  But that’s just not the case, which sucks.  It sucks a lot.

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About Andy Verderosa

Andy is a writer and copywriter in New York. Follow him at @andyverderosa.
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