I Suck at the Getting

I gotta say. Nothing, nothing makes me chuckle harder than when Person A says that the reason Person B doesn’t like what Person A likes is because Person B doesn’t get it.

It’s such a great comment to make. “You just didn’t get it.” What a gem of a phrase. It allows you to simultaneously dismiss their opinion, insult their intelligence, and elevate yourself above the common herd. Bonus points if the thing you’re claiming they don’t get is something ridiculously non-subtle and obvious.

Moreover, “you didn’t get it” confirms your opinion as right, which of course is the point of criticism. Criticism of a medium, be it comics, movies, music, whatever, is not, after all, about opinions. Perhaps someday someone will make a piece of art that can be approached from several different points of view and can be interpreted multiple ways, but until then, criticism is simply the act of trying to determine the single correct way to view a piece of work. And obviously, once you’ve determined what that way is, it’s your duty to inform everyone else that they’re just plain wrong. (Though it’s polite to tell them they didn’t get it rather than tell them they’re foolish and incorrect.)

If you get nothing else, get this: the way art works is, there’s a dimension beyond Space, Time, the Twilight Zone, Dimension X, and the Phantom Zone. Truth and Beauty live there, and that’s where Art comes from. An artist receives a transmission from this dimension, and records it, flawlessly, into whatever medium is decided by God to be best at expressing this truth. During this process, any human faults or prejudices that the artist may have are set aside so that the work contains nothing but 100% pure Art. (This technique was invented by Leonardo Da Vinci, who also invented the helicopter!) The artist then presents this perfect transmission to the world, and it’s their job to discern the single item of truth within it. Once that’s found, the task turns to (a) basking in the warm glow of Art and (b) telling anyone who doesn’t like it that they don’t get it.

Let me assure you, the reason I chuckle at someone telling someone else they just didn’t “get it” is not because I find that statement to be hilariously pompous and absurd. It’s not because I know I’m reading someone whose opinions I can probably happily disregard, because anyone who’s shallow enough to believe that you either “get” something — and therefore like it — or don’t probably doesn’t have a whole lot of interesting things to say. It’s not because I’ve encountered someone so insecure that they feel that have to insult people who disagree with them. It’s because…well…I can’t really explain why I chuckle. I’m not sure you’d get it.

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