August 18, 2017, 10:56:13 PM

Author Topic: Is "Talent" Subjective?  (Read 1504 times)

Offline Not Lu

Re: Is "Talent" Subjective?
« Reply #45 on: August 05, 2017, 01:45:17 AM »
Someone unrelated but as a direct result of looking for a meme to fit this thread, I ended up watching an awful YouTube dance battle between Harry Potter and Twilight characters.

And, of course, some of us will like it and some of us will hate it. Some of us will say the creator had talent and other will say they didn't. Why does everything have to be so subjective?

Offline Peat

Re: Is "Talent" Subjective?
« Reply #46 on: August 05, 2017, 08:53:34 AM »

If I must give proof, I will, but you still won't agree, because it's too subjective (just like judging a writer's talent).

You cite lukewarm reviews as proof that people didn't like it, but the book didn't get "lukewarm" mass reviews. It got love it or hate it reviews. Most of the people who hated it based their hatred on the subject matter or the submission of the main character. Many of them had the same revulsion that you did. Ironically, erotica wasn't the genre these people normally read... so of course they were going to hate it. In short, the fact that the book was a cultural phenomenon is the reason it has so many bad reviews. Which coincidentally, answers the question @tebakutis originally posed. "Whenever any book becomes super popular, quite often, the critiques of that book increase both the number and ferocity, specifically in regards to questioning the writer's 'talent'. Why?" The answer: When a book gets famous readers outside the genre read the book (and surprise, surprise, they don't like it). Which of course goes back to what I've been trying to say. Talent is subjective.

Okay, first off, I'm pretty sure I didn't say I was revulsed by the book.

My argument is that a substantial percentage of the people who brought 5SoG didn't like it. It doesn't matter why they didn't like it, only that they didn't. Large numbers of people posting "Hated it" reviews fits in with the idea that yes, lots of people who read it didn't like it.

I also find the idea that all of the bad reviews come from people reading it out of genre to have a few logical holes in it. The first is that its generally categorised as a romance, or erotic romance, and that is a highly popular genre after all; it had a third of the US fiction market in 2015 according to Nielsen and is worth a billion a year. Its likely there's some overlap between 5SoG non-fans and people who generally like romance. I picked three of top badmouthers on GR and looked at their profiles; one is a romance author, the other two are currently reading romances. A tiny sample but consistent with my anecdotal experience and I'm sure further inspection would find plenty more romance fans displeased with it. If you do think it should be considered solely as erotica, then a quick search of the Literotica forums very quickly finds no shortage of negative opinions about the book.

The second is that how many people who genuinely hate romance/erotica to the point they'll diss a book solely because that's what it is are going to actually read 5SoG? Its not like the nature of the book was a secret. It seems unlikely there's a great number of such people - and if there are, they're clearly buying it because of the phenomenon, not because they like it.

Quote
Declining interest in the author? Fifty Shades of Grey is still ranked near 2000 in the amazon store (kindle edition). That's a pretty sticky book. People are still telling other people about it six years after publication (because they liked it).

The book remains popular. Interest in the author's later output is much less, although still substantial.

Quote
"Record amounts of donations to charity book shops indicates a fair number of people who brought it and didn't like it.". No, it indicates that the book was a guilty pleasure that women didn't want lying around the house after they'd read it (late at night after the kids were in bed). As a kid (important to know I'm a male) in the 70s, we looted the dumpsters of apartment and office buildings looking for Playboy magazine. The reason: we knew most men weren't going to keep the magazine on their bookshelf at home or at work after "reading" it. But, I'm pretty sure those men liked Playboy almost as much as I did.

Consumer habits in terms of holding onto magazines and in terms of holding onto books are not comparable. One is seen as far more disposable as the other. Obviously people do chuck/give books away (5SoG was the most left behind book in Travelodge in 2013) but in nowhere near the same numbers.

I am unsure as to whether people's willingness to have sexually explicit content around in the 70s is comparable to people's willingness for the same now. Such standards almost certainly differ from place to place anyway. Going from anecdote and media report, there's a pretty substantial number of women in the UK at least who don't give a crap about reading 5SoG on public transport or discussing it in public. I find it difficult to believe that the same people would be bashful about keeping it around the home.

I also find it difficult to believe the same bashful people would then dispose of it by giving it to a charity in their local community, to people they'll probably/possibly see again, when there are so many other means of disposal.

And then of course there is the fact that the copies don't get brought either. Lots of Ian Rankin books are donated to charities but they sell.

And we're talking hundreds and hundreds of books at one store. Sure, probably some were a tad embarrassed to keep it round the house or liked it. Or liked it but just give away a lot of books. But not all of them. That would be extremely unlikely.


Plus, in other evidence for there being a significant disparity between the number of people who brought 5SoG and the people who liked it, there was the study that estimated only 25% of people who brought it on ebook finished it. Etc.etc.


This isn't to say that nobody liked it. Clearly a lot of people liked it.

But for every book there's a disparity between the number of people who brought it and the number of people who actually liked it. And there's a lot of evidence pointing at 5SoG having one of the biggest disparities going. Which in itself points to the idea that the book's initial popularity had more to do with marketing and publicity than it did the book's actual quality.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2017, 09:04:05 AM by Peat »
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Offline Nora

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Re: Is "Talent" Subjective?
« Reply #47 on: August 05, 2017, 11:22:05 AM »
@Lanko here's a slight correction to give you how I read it :

- José is forceful one Ana. Rape culture. (Ok)

- A man (Christian) appears and surprises the attacker. "One sentence from a man and José immediately releases her, bringing us back to rule number four: When in trouble, it is best to defer to the protection and judgment of men." Rape culture. (what?)
Here she means, ironically, that only the word of the man weighs enough, in the mind of the attacker. The problem here is not that Christian helps (I believe you should always help), it is that Ana won't go further than mumbling "no" (instead of kicking and screaming), and isn't indignant when only a man is taking seriously instead of her.
Because InRealLife, what's the probability that you'll be saved by someone you know while being assaulted? (and in this case by the buddy you're out with, yum yum...)
It means you shouldn't see it as normal that only a man's word can save you from this.


- "Don’t try to fight back because you’ll just be ignored, rely instead on a man." Rape culture. (God forbid if a man tries to help a woman).
It's not about the man helping the woman. It's about the cultural rule embedded in Ana's pea brain. She is indeed a stone throw away from lots of potential help and doesn't struggle that much. Doesn't kick, doesn't shriek. Damn she could even just cry. She doesn't even TRY. That's the problem, not Christian.
It's that she's being passive and conveniently helped by a man, who is stalking her too. She should have yelled, and she should yell on Christian too for being a total creep.


- If Christian had ignored the situation, it would also be rape culture.
No because in this case, if he'd been a healthy man in his head, he would not have traced the location of a chick he's met 3 times to pick her out of a pub because he doesn't approve of her being drunk. Think about it. His intervening against Jose is the only saving grace that keeps him from appearing as a complete control freak stalker.

- Even if Ana had a taser and knew jiu-jitsu and knocked the guy cold and was praised for empowerment, that would still be a consequence of rape culture.
No. Not from what the author says. She says women should be raised and reinforced with the idea that if you're being coerced and not listened to (by a man or a woman), you should feel free to yell, kick... If you're being asked you ought to feel free to clearly refuse. Being cute and womanly should never be hurdles on the way to having your way (in that context).
The part after Christian arrives is the most telling :

“Turning, I glance at José, who looks pretty shamefaced himself and, like me, intimidated by Grey. I glare at him. I have a few choice words for my so-called friend, none of which I can repeat in front of Christian Grey, CEO. Ana, who are you kidding? He’s just seen you hurl all over the ground and into the local flora. There’s no disguising you lack of ladylike behavior.”

That's our protagonist, desperately trying to impress a "CEO" by staying silence in the face of her aggressor, and feeling shame for having vomited in front of the same CEO.
Cause ladies don't puke. They don't yell at friends who try to force them either, hey?
This is what is wrong. She won't speak out, not even in the heat of anger, and two days later she pardons him and shrugs it off. Reinforcing the idea of how women ought to be meek and accept excuses like "I was drunk, and you..." and refrain from making a mess of themselves.


The author of the blog article doesn't even point the finger at the male figure that much. She points at the behaviour of Ana, Jose's excuses, and the system they excuse, all that written by another woman and labelled sexy. Christian does plenty to hate later on too, but in that specific event, it's not what's harmful to readers.

Daenerys is sold in a hasty marriage with a "barbaric tribe", and realises she's being treated like a slave, and ought to adapt to their ways and conquer her husband if she's to gain any respect. She does, and through many a weird event climbs her way to power. It's a bit different...
The fact that she's "taken" after her marriage is still a pretty standard development for many cultures nowadays, it's funny you'd point that out as rape-like. How many girls are married to old men at 9 or 10 these days?
Enough to horrify you, probably. But how many of them become beloved queens–sadly that's the fantasy part.
There's plenty of rape in GoT but I don't remember Martin coming off as apologetic?

That's the whole crux.

Of course you can talk of rape and abusive relationships. And cannibalism and worse stuff. It all depends how well and intelligently you do it.
Hence the blog author's last line : "Authors, I beg you, don’t cover tough issues and strong themes if you can’t do them justice. Grant them the depth and the severity they deserve. Please."

Martin created a rough world where women are often at the wrong end of power plays, and sometimes get on top and use their power more or less intelligently (like real people would). He didn't glorify abuse by making it sexy.



@Not Lu and @Peat

50SoG is hardly erotica. It's plain wrong when it comes to BDSM too, since Christian's mentality is off and his forcing someone unwilling into it is the definition of what adult, healthy approach to BDSM ought not to be.
Anais Nin wrote erotica. Anne Rice wrote erotica. Sensual stuff, with poetical prose.

But anyway,

Quote
It got love it or hate it reviews. Most of the people who hated it based their hatred on the subject matter or the submission of the main character.



The book got negative reviews from professional critics, mostly about the weak plot and terrible prose, not because of the submission.

Quote
Salman Rushdie said about the book: "I've never read anything so badly written that got published. It made Twilight look like War and Peace."
Maureen Dowd described the book in The New York Times as being written "like a Bronte devoid of talent," and said it was "dull and poorly written."
Jesse Kornbluth of The Huffington Post said: "As a reading experience, Fifty Shades ... is a sad joke, puny of plot"

Quote
Metro News Canada wrote that "suffering through 500 pages of this heroine's inner dialogue was torturous, and not in the intended, sexy kind of way".
Jessica Reaves, of the Chicago Tribune, wrote that the "book's source material isn't great literature", noting that the novel is "sprinkled liberally and repeatedly with asinine phrases", and described it as "depressing"

Here's the lukewarm ones :

Quote
Princeton professor April Alliston wrote, "Though no literary masterpiece, Fifty Shades is more than parasitic fan fiction based on the recent Twilight vampire series."

Quote
British author Jenny Colgan in The Guardian wrote "It is jolly, eminently readable and as sweet and safe as BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism) erotica can be without contravening the trade descriptions act" and also praised the book for being "more enjoyable" than other "literary erotic books".
The Daily Telegraph noted that the book was "the definition of a page-turner", noting that the book was both "troubling and intriguing".
A reviewer for the Ledger-Enquirer described the book as guilty fun and escapism, and that it "also touches on one aspect of female existence [female submission]. And acknowledging that fact – maybe even appreciating it – shouldn't be a cause for guilt."

Quote
The New Zealand Herald stated that the book "will win no prizes for its prose" and that "there are some exceedingly awful descriptions," although it was also an easy read; "(If you only) can suspend your disbelief and your desire to – if you'll pardon the expression – slap the heroine for having so little self respect, you might enjoy it."

SO, to my final point : What do you do when some people think a book is good and its author has talent, when the "official" world finds it horrible for "objective reasons"?

I say objective because using word counters can physically prove how poor 50 Shades is, if using that example.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Word Count:
"Oh My" - 79
"Crap" - 101
"Jeez" - 82
"Holy (shit/fuck/crap/hell/cow/moses)" - 172
"Whoa" - 13
"Gasp" - 34
"Gasps" - 11
"Sharp Intake of Breath" - 4
"Murmur" - 68
"Murmurs" - 139
"Whisper" - 96
"Whispers" - 103
"Mutter" - 28
"Mutters" - 23
"Fifty" - 16
"Lip" - 71
"Inner goddess" - 58
"Subconscious" - 82

But enough people loved it and 5 stars rated it to make you pause and wonder.

Are we having an elitist approach to a writer's "talent"? And again talent is vague, as I think managing to please millions while off-putting millions more is a talent in its own right.

I think writing has lots of facets.

Writing good prose.
Writing convincing characters and lovable characters (not always both sadly).
Writing good dialogue.
Writing good humour.
Writing good descriptions in wise doses.
Writing tantalizing ambiance, dark or broody or threatening, with lean but engaging prose...
Writing powerful arcs, surprising twists.
Writing great plot with satisfying resolutions.
Mastering the art of pacing.
Having original ideas and vision.

All these are options you can get on your writer's bingo card. A truly talented author I think, would be one who can coin most of these in the eyes of the majority of readers, regardless of the number of reader, past a decent readership number (aka, not the 50 people you could get together to read your stuff).

So a horror writer with a smaller readership who is unanimously praised by his readers for having 8 out of 10 of these qualities, would show more talent than a block buster writer only known for his well paced plots, but has weak characters, weak arcs, shit humour and average prose.

This would mean you can judge talent by the piece rather than by the oeuvre. Of course you can compound that data and average on all books written by an author.

Which would mean that being READ would not be a sign of talent in any way. Which would disqualify books that you are forced to read, or books like the Bible (best selling of all time and first book published, right?).
Then it would get murky I guess, because beyond prose and pacing and plot, a lot of those criterion are subjective.
But by taking every reader's subjective take on all those aspects, you would get a graph telling you what the author is good at.
A sort of talent chart.

Like that :



(I made that myself online)

What do you guys think? Wouldn't that bridge between objective and subjective, to objectify the subjective views of readers?  :D
« Last Edit: August 05, 2017, 11:30:42 AM by Nora »
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Offline Bradley Darewood

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Re: Is "Talent" Subjective?
« Reply #48 on: August 05, 2017, 11:23:25 AM »
Someone unrelated but as a direct result of looking for a meme to fit this thread, I ended up watching an awful YouTube dance battle between Harry Potter and Twilight characters.

And, of course, some of us will like it and some of us will hate it. Some of us will say the creator had talent and other will say they didn't. Why does everything have to be so subjective?

hahaha, and as I mentioned above, the anthropologist in me relates to this whole post-modern everything is relative POV.

but I feel like there's something that's a bit *off* about that perspective... it's a grain of truth taken too far.

* I mentioned this earlier but seriously you all need to get off this thread and watch Exit Through the Gift Shop right now.  Like now. Now!!!!!!
* Without some common idea of what we want to achieve, we can't improve.
* For me what matters is: did you write something that made people think or feel something they never could have before... Or did you write the literary equivalent of a jingle?

Offline Not Lu

Re: Is "Talent" Subjective?
« Reply #49 on: August 05, 2017, 05:25:53 PM »
SO, to my final point : What do you do when some people think a book is good and its author has talent, when the "official" world finds it horrible for "objective reasons"?

I say objective because using word counters can physically prove how poor 50 Shades is, if using that example.

Word Count:
"Oh My" - 79
"Crap" - 101
"Jeez" - 82
"Holy (shit/fuck/crap/hell/cow/moses)" - 172
"Whoa" - 13
"Gasp" - 34
"Gasps" - 11
"Sharp Intake of Breath" - 4
"Murmur" - 68
"Murmurs" - 139
"Whisper" - 96
"Whispers" - 103
"Mutter" - 28
"Mutters" - 23
"Fifty" - 16
"Lip" - 71
"Inner goddess" - 58
"Subconscious" - 82

Thank you for proving my point. You've given a list of words you and the official world somehow find unacceptable. While millions of other people didn't mind those words used over and over again. That in itself, shows how subjective talent is.

But enough people loved it and 5 stars rated it to make you pause and wonder.

Are we having an elitist approach to a writer's "talent"? And again talent is vague, as I think managing to please millions while off-putting millions more is a talent in its own right.

It's not that you have an elitist approach to a writer's talent. It is simply personal preference. The "official world"  is a club that has their own set of personal preferences that they use as a guide to judge talent. George R R Martin has written a fantastic set of novels, but he'll never win a Pulitzer prize or a Mann Booker award, for the simple reason that those clubs have a set of criteria for judging talent that is at odds with his genre and style of writing. The Hugo award isn't going to be given to The Remains of the Day, for the simple reason that the Hugos have a set of criteria for judging talent that wouldn't include that type of book.

Take a look at the various "official world" awards. They don't pick the same books, even though they're mostly part of the same club. Why? Because it's subjective.

My main point is that you can't impose objective standards on art. If you did, all art would be the same. Subjectivity is what allows art to flourish.

As a writer, you should never be constrained by what other people (and their clubs) dictate as "good" or "right". Create your own art, then find others who enjoy it.


Offline Justan Henner

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Re: Is "Talent" Subjective?
« Reply #50 on: August 05, 2017, 07:09:31 PM »
Heh.

I'm curious how much of the 50 shades and twilight hate is spurred by the fact they're popular to hate. They're a quick punchline often spoken by those who haven't read the books; which further perpetrates the narrative that they aren't quality.

I'm also curious how long it'll be before someone makes the argument, that by using 50 shades and Twilight -books that are primarily read and appreciated by women - as a quick societal punchline, is in fact further proof that women's voices are being silenced.

*Gasp!* x 132 times.

Offline Nora

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Re: Is "Talent" Subjective?
« Reply #51 on: August 05, 2017, 07:48:31 PM »
It's not that you have an elitist approach to a writer's talent. It is simply personal preference. The "official world"  is a club that has their own set of personal preferences that they use as a guide to judge talent.

Oooh, ok. So in the definition of Art according to you, Everything is Great, Nothing is Bad, literally, so long as someone likes it. One fan means it's good and the creator has talent.

So any random fanfic is better than any acclaimed award winning classic, just because people buy it.

Quote
Thank you for proving my point. You've given a list of words you and the official world somehow find unacceptable. While millions of other people didn't mind those words used over and over again. That in itself, shows how subjective talent is.

Don't you know why? Aren't you into writing and reading? Were you never taught that over-using words to death was a no-no, because it's bad and make people not want to read you? Have you never been annoyed by an author's restricted vocabulary? How is proving how limited her use of vocabulary is some sort of twist that her work is great?
It's more like proving that the readers were either cheated out of their money or ought to have read more.

More importantly, you have no data to prove that "Millions didn't mind those". Can you show a link for that? An article? Anything.
The world is full of people who DNFed this book, hated it, dumped it at their local charity... Yes some of those people liked it, but where is your proof that the millions buyers actually liked it?
Where did you see that they didn't get irritated by that weak prose?

And more importantly, are you going to say that such use of word is proof of talent and a strong prose? Why are you arguing so vehemently against such a lost cause? You're not going to convince people that such an objectively patched up prose, in a book that was riddled with typos and bad punctuation was well written, regardless of your personal feelings for the story.

As for the idea of a club, I'm sorry to say but between "random person A, who does not usually read and finishes maybe two crime novels and a romance a year" and "random person B, who reads around a hundred books a year in all shapes and format, fiction and non fiction, comics and novellas", if I'm asking for a book review, I will not take seriously the opinion of A over B.
A has almost nothing to compare that book to, as A doesn't read enough. What is a well worn trope to B can be a fantastic, fresh idea to A.
So I would always prefer B's opinion over A.
In the same way that if picking a WINE to drink over a romantic diner, you will much rather prefer a sommelier's opinion, as the guy has tasted many wines and knows a lot on the topic. You won't ask me as I swagger by with two stouts in my shopping bag.

Well, that's why we have critics. And awards. They all have personal taste you don't have to agree on, but they've read thousands of books and their evaluation of what is "well written" can be taken a little more seriously than "random person A"'s.

Don't you agree?

Also I don't see you speaking up about the content side of things. Do you think you can explain why the dialogue I copy/pasted earlier isn't a form of abuse that is treated in the worst possible way by the author?

Quote
I'm curious how much of the 50 shades and twilight hate is spurred by the fact they're popular to hate. They're a quick punchline often spoken by those who haven't read the books; which further perpetrates the narrative that they aren't quality.

Do you care to elaborate? Have you actually read these books? Because I have. And the Dan Brown too. I've never bad mouthed a book I haven't read. I can further the narrative of them being the opposite of quality because I know when I see lack of quality, and I saw beyond that.

Quote
I'm also curious how long it'll be before someone makes the argument, that by using 50 shades and Twilight -books that are primarily read and appreciated by women - as a quick societal punchline, is in fact further proof that women's voices are being silenced.

I absolutely don't get your argument. There are plenty of female reviewers out there, and it's a female author, and the book sold millions. What are you trying to say?
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Offline Lanko

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Re: Is "Talent" Subjective?
« Reply #52 on: August 05, 2017, 07:52:00 PM »
Enough to horrify you, probably. But how many of them become beloved queens–sadly that's the fantasy part.
There's plenty of rape in GoT but I don't remember Martin coming off as apologetic?

We may not think so, but there are tons of blogs, articles and more out there saying that he is. Which makes us return to how each individual will see the details under their own particular lens.

Anyway, back to 50 shades, I will try to put down what I mean but failed to do earlier:

The author of the blog article doesn't even point the finger at the male figure that much. She points at the behaviour of Ana, Jose's excuses, and the system they excuse, all that written by another woman and labelled sexy. Christian does plenty to hate later on too, but in that specific event, it's not what's harmful to readers.

Of course you can talk of rape and abusive relationships. And cannibalism and worse stuff. It all depends how well and intelligently you do it.
Hence the blog author's last line : "Authors, I beg you, don’t cover tough issues and strong themes if you can’t do them justice. Grant them the depth and the severity they deserve. Please."

Here she means, ironically, that only the word of the man weighs enough, in the mind of the attacker. The problem here is not that Christian helps (I believe you should always help), it is that Ana won't go further than mumbling "no" (instead of kicking and screaming), and isn't indignant when only a man is taking seriously instead of her.
Because InRealLife, what's the probability that you'll be saved by someone you know while being assaulted? (and in this case by the buddy you're out with, yum yum...)
It means you shouldn't see it as normal that only a man's word can save you from this.


It's not about the man helping the woman. It's about the cultural rule embedded in Ana's pea brain. She is indeed a stone throw away from lots of potential help and doesn't struggle that much. Doesn't kick, doesn't shriek. Damn she could even just cry. She doesn't even TRY. That's the problem, not Christian.
It's that she's being passive and conveniently helped by a man, who is stalking her too. She should have yelled, and she should yell on Christian too for being a total creep.


No. Not from what the author says. She says women should be raised and reinforced with the idea that if you're being coerced and not listened to (by a man or a woman), you should feel free to yell, kick... If you're being asked you ought to feel free to clearly refuse. Being cute and womanly should never be hurdles on the way to having your way (in that context).
The part after Christian arrives is the most telling :

“Turning, I glance at José, who looks pretty shamefaced himself and, like me, intimidated by Grey. I glare at him. I have a few choice words for my so-called friend, none of which I can repeat in front of Christian Grey, CEO. Ana, who are you kidding? He’s just seen you hurl all over the ground and into the local flora. There’s no disguising you lack of ladylike behavior.”

That's our protagonist, desperately trying to impress a "CEO" by staying silence in the face of her aggressor, and feeling shame for having vomited in front of the same CEO.
Cause ladies don't puke. They don't yell at friends who try to force them either, hey?
This is what is wrong. She won't speak out, not even in the heat of anger, and two days later she pardons him and shrugs it off. Reinforcing the idea of how women ought to be meek and accept excuses like "I was drunk, and you..." and refrain from making a mess of themselves.


Ok, specially about the parts in blue, Ana doesn't kick, scream, her behavior is pretty much the same as the list the article makes about how society tells women should behave, then shrugs off José's and Christian's methods and how she views her own behavior.

But even without using 50 Shades, the article points all those things as things that are happening in the world right now. That the system makes a lot of women behave like Ana. Even traces a parallel to the amount of rapes or attempts of rape, provides numbers that millions of women out there passes through these situations or behave like that. You even gave an example.

There are stories where we, through our own perception and experience, know what's going on but the character doesn't and we get an idea where the plot will likely go, aren't there?

So in this example of 50 shades and the article, isn't this another case that we know what's going on, but we are seeing the story and events unfold through the eyes of someone who doesn't?

One may argue that Ana never learns and realizes what's going on, but the very article who criticizes this actually provides information and statistics saying how a lot of women in the real world don't either.

Considering this and the examples, wasn't the portrayal of those scenes and of Ana's behavior and unawareness and even not ever realizing it, faithful to what really happens to a lot of women?
So maybe I'm giving it far more credit than it deserves, but for me it looked like that part, the character and the author are being bashed for portraying it all with... accuracy. Or considering how the article ends, that this accuracy even means endorsing it.

And that's what I'm not understanding.
"It is an old maxim of mine that when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

Lanko's Year in Books 2017

Offline Justan Henner

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Re: Is "Talent" Subjective?
« Reply #53 on: August 05, 2017, 08:07:09 PM »
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I'm curious how much of the 50 shades and twilight hate is spurred by the fact they're popular to hate. They're a quick punchline often spoken by those who haven't read the books; which further perpetrates the narrative that they aren't quality.

Do you care to elaborate? Have you actually read these books? Because I have. And the Dan Brown too. I've never bad mouthed a book I haven't read. I can further the narrative of them being the opposite of quality because I know when I see lack of quality, and I saw beyond that.

Haven't read Twilight or 50 shades. Opted for the movie instead. Didn't like 50 shades, saw why some might like Twilight. Have read Dan Brown, and loved the books.

My point is that the first I heard of either 50 shades or Twilight was in the context of "Ohh, that trash?" By the time it was popular enough to reach me in my little bubble, they were already a punchline.

The punchline became cyclical. A bunch of people who had never heard of the book outside of the mockery, further pushed the idea that it was trash in order to have something to say on the topic. comics, late night hosts, teenage boys that bashed it for no other reason than it was teenage girls that were reading it (Twilight)

I think that "shame factor" builds to a crescendo, and people who liked the book, might deny it, or throw out their copies, or jump on the hate train, for fear of being seen as someone who disagrees.

I'm simply wondering, how large was that effect? How many people would have loved these books, if the stigma wasn't already out there?

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I'm also curious how long it'll be before someone makes the argument, that by using 50 shades and Twilight -books that are primarily read and appreciated by women - as a quick societal punchline, is in fact further proof that women's voices are being silenced.

I absolutely don't get your argument. There are plenty of female reviewers out there, and it's a female author, and the book sold millions. What are you trying to say?

Most of the hate I recall at the time was in the vein of "That trash for teenage girls". In other words, much of the denigration of Twilight was in relation to the group it was targeted toward. I was joking, but I'm sure someone out there is making the argument that Twilight/50 Shades became despised not for its content, but for its audience... i.e., the hate is an attack on women.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2017, 08:11:06 PM by Justan Henner »

Offline Not Lu

Re: Is "Talent" Subjective?
« Reply #54 on: August 05, 2017, 11:51:13 PM »
It's not that you have an elitist approach to a writer's talent. It is simply personal preference. The "official world"  is a club that has their own set of personal preferences that they use as a guide to judge talent.
Oooh, ok. So in the definition of Art according to you, Everything is Great, Nothing is Bad, literally, so long as someone likes it. One fan means it's good and the creator has talent.

Where did you read that? If you look at (and read, and try to understand) what you quoted, you'll see that what I said was each club "has their own set of personal preferences that they use as a guide to judge talent." Thus talent is subjective (based on personal preferences).

I also said: "My main point is that you can't impose objective standards on art. If you did, all art would be the same. Subjectivity is what allows art to flourish. As a writer, you should never be constrained by what other people (and their clubs) dictate as "good" or "right". Create your own art, then find others who enjoy it."


Well, that's why we have critics. And awards. They all have personal taste you don't have to agree on, but they've read thousands of books and their evaluation of what is "well written" can be taken a little more seriously than "random person A"'s.

Now I understand why you don't like my point of view. Your club doesn't like repetitive words, or a "limited vocabulary", etc. It has a set of rules that members of the club prefer to adhere to. Each post you make adds to the set of rules you prefer to live by. Your club uses such standards to make critiques and give awards (aka judge talent). That's just fine with me because I want to live in a world where art is subjective. You get your set of rules and I get mine (although I'm a little scared that you want me to adhere to yours). ;)

Offline Steve Harrison

Re: Is "Talent" Subjective?
« Reply #55 on: August 06, 2017, 12:39:34 AM »
The success of 50 Shades and Twilight indicates the authors have a huge amount of talent for satisfying readers, which, in my opinion, far outweighs any perceived literary abilities.

The wonderful thing about reading is that there are a variety of books for every taste and preference and if authors succeed in widening that readership pool significantly, I salute them!

Offline Peat

Re: Is "Talent" Subjective?
« Reply #56 on: August 06, 2017, 03:26:57 AM »
Quote
Quote
I'm curious how much of the 50 shades and twilight hate is spurred by the fact they're popular to hate. They're a quick punchline often spoken by those who haven't read the books; which further perpetrates the narrative that they aren't quality.

Do you care to elaborate? Have you actually read these books? Because I have. And the Dan Brown too. I've never bad mouthed a book I haven't read. I can further the narrative of them being the opposite of quality because I know when I see lack of quality, and I saw beyond that.

Haven't read Twilight or 50 shades. Opted for the movie instead. Didn't like 50 shades, saw why some might like Twilight. Have read Dan Brown, and loved the books.

My point is that the first I heard of either 50 shades or Twilight was in the context of "Ohh, that trash?" By the time it was popular enough to reach me in my little bubble, they were already a punchline.

The punchline became cyclical. A bunch of people who had never heard of the book outside of the mockery, further pushed the idea that it was trash in order to have something to say on the topic. comics, late night hosts, teenage boys that bashed it for no other reason than it was teenage girls that were reading it (Twilight)

I think that "shame factor" builds to a crescendo, and people who liked the book, might deny it, or throw out their copies, or jump on the hate train, for fear of being seen as someone who disagrees.

I'm simply wondering, how large was that effect? How many people would have loved these books, if the stigma wasn't already out there?

I am sure at least some of the 5SoG/Twilight/anything else hate is cyclical and based on the fact its a punchline, yeah. Most hate/'hate' propagates from itself as much as from any meeting with the enemy.

I am equally sure that at least some people who would have liked the book have been put off by the negativity as you say. Stands to reason.

And I am equally sure again that at least some of the people who read the book did so because they heard people being negative about it and thought "That doesn't sound bad actually"/read it out of spite/read it so they could be negative in a fair way/etc.etc. It equally stands to reason.

There is no way of knowing how many of either but my money is on the latter. No publicity is bad publicity and all of that. Plus the average person is well capable of liking something that's mocked by others. I mean, hi, we're all fantasy fans, we all know that one right?

As victims of stigma goes, I'm guessing 5SoG is a long way down on the list.
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Offline Bradley Darewood

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Re: Is "Talent" Subjective?
« Reply #57 on: August 06, 2017, 06:47:50 AM »
It's not that you have an elitist approach to a writer's talent. It is simply personal preference. The "official world"  is a club that has their own set of personal preferences that they use as a guide to judge talent.
Oooh, ok. So in the definition of Art according to you, Everything is Great, Nothing is Bad, literally, so long as someone likes it. One fan means it's good and the creator has talent.

Where did you read that? If you look at (and read, and try to understand) what you quoted, you'll see that what I said was each club "has their own set of personal preferences that they use as a guide to judge talent." Thus talent is subjective (based on personal preferences).

I also said: "My main point is that you can't impose objective standards on art. If you did, all art would be the same. Subjectivity is what allows art to flourish. As a writer, you should never be constrained by what other people (and their clubs) dictate as "good" or "right". Create your own art, then find others who enjoy it."


Well, that's why we have critics. And awards. They all have personal taste you don't have to agree on, but they've read thousands of books and their evaluation of what is "well written" can be taken a little more seriously than "random person A"'s.

Now I understand why you don't like my point of view. Your club doesn't like repetitive words, or a "limited vocabulary", etc. It has a set of rules that members of the club prefer to adhere to. Each post you make adds to the set of rules you prefer to live by. Your club uses such standards to make critiques and give awards (aka judge talent). That's just fine with me because I want to live in a world where art is subjective. You get your set of rules and I get mine (although I'm a little scared that you want me to adhere to yours). ;)

@Not Lu I really love what you said there "Subjectivity is what allows art to flourish. As a writer, you should never be constrained by what other people (and their clubs) dictate as "good" or "right". Create your own art, then find others who enjoy it."  But I do think you're taking subjectivity too far.

1) PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD SOMEONE WATCH "EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP" ITS SO RELEVANT TO THIS DISCUSSION AND I HAVE NO ONE TO TALK TO ABOUT IT!!!!

2) While the experience and definition is certainly heterogeneous, there are still *boundaries* to what we even between factions, consider art, a Wittgensteinian cluster if you will.  "Art" exists as a social fact, we wouldn't even be able to have this discussion if it didn't evoke something common between all of us, and some of those concepts are inflected with certain commonly held ideas about quality.  So Nora's "group" isn't the only one that cares about word repetition (done unintentionally and unartfully), perhaps all of them do.  For me the bigger distinction that's been bothering me in this discussion is that art is NOT popularity (even popularity within one of your sub-groups).  Art is about conveying meaning and perspective. That's why a beer commercial and and a pop song, in my opinion, usually shouldn't be considered art, unless someone was able to seriously subvert the capitalist machinery behind it.

So I wrote an essay on art when I was in Colombia a few years ago talking about Marxist propaganda, museum pieces and some dude doing handstands at an intersection.

If anyone's interested it's here for now:

https://www.facebook.com/notes/bradley-darewood/thoughts-on-art-in-cali/1423802314549583/

Or in spoilers:

Spoiler for Hiden:
Thoughts on Art in Cali

“Can you give me some water?” the man asked as I crossed the intersection.
 
I doled out a sympathetic rejection like a knee-jerk reaction:  “I’m sorry, friend, but I don’t have much left and I’m terribly thirsty.”
 
Being asked for things all day, these sorts of rejections were necessary, unless I wanted to be left with nothing in the course of an hour or two.   But as I took the time to study him, I immediately regretted my hasty reply.  Sweat glistened on his forehead and while his breathing was calm, his eyes had the marks of strain and exertion.
 
“What happened to your hand?” I asked.
 
One hand was wrapped in some sort of camouflage cloth.  As he motioned to it with the other I caught a glimpse of the palm of his unwrapped hand, the flesh blackened as if it had been scorched.  It was torn and bleeding.  It was black from the asphalt.  I couldn’t imagine what the other must look like beneath the makeshift bandage.
 
He was a street performer.  Not one of the carefree Argentina hippies you find juggling throughout Colombia, trying to get money for pot while on their travels.  He was a beggar who performed out of desperation.  He would walk on his hands between the cars stopped at the intersection—I had actually seen his upturned feet from afar—and then beg for spare change at the windows.  It took a toll on his body, pushing to perform until his hands broke.  I’d seen worse.  The fire-breathers spitting gasoline on a flame often become terribly disfigured as continual flow of gasoline in their mouths eats away the lining of their cheeks.
 
I hand him my water, and he looks around for a leaf or something to fashion into a cup, so that we won’t have to share saliva.  “Don’t worry about it,” I say with a wave.  “I don’t mind drinking out of the bottle if you don’t.”
 
He nods in thanks as he lifts the bottle to his lips.  He winces: using his hand to grip the water bottle is clearly causing him pain.  I can’t imagine what he must feel each time he does his handstand.  But he continues on, relentlessly, ignoring the agony for the slim chance that someone might roll down the window and hand him some change.
 
He offers the bottle back, but I tell him to keep it.  I try not to let the pity show in my face. “You’re getting a lot more exercise than I am,” I explain, struggling to hide the pangs of sympathy squeezing my chest.  “I don’t really have anywhere to go to break a sweat.”  He directs me to a park, and I continue on my way.  Pity is condescending, I know, but it takes me nevertheless, splashing unbidden across my face.
Down the street is the Museo la Tertulia, a gorgeously designed museum of Latin American art.  Outside teens run back and forth across the concrete topography in a series of acrobatic leaps and flips.  They are practicing parqour.
 
Inside was an incredible series of expositions.  Amidst abstract paintings--car bumpers arranged into something reminiscent of flowers, and beautifully broken ceramic pieces--I came across a painting by Rosmeberg Sandoval titled “Pintura Sucia” or “Dirty Painting.” Brown-black markings smeared the white canvas in a way that was both beautiful and evocative of dirt.  A series of photographs captured Sandoval as he had made the painting in his hometown of Certago, Colombia.  He had taken a homeless person from the street (a picture-perfect homeless man complete with a thick beard, tattered clothes covered in grime) and had him lie on the canvas.  Rosemberg lifted the man’s legs and then pushed him across the canvas like a human paintbrush.
 
I looked at the photos beside the painting in horror.  Sandoval had reduced a man to a human paintbrush, then sold his painting, rooted in the exotification of poverty, for a fortune.  This was wrong.
 
Suddenly the museum and the art I had enjoyed became a sinister place.
 
What is this thing we call “art”?  “Art, in our society, has been so perverted that not only has bad art come to be considered good, but even the very perception of what art really is has been lost,” Tolstoy once wrote.  But who decides what is art and what isn’t?  More importantly, who decides what art is for?  In Los Angeles, I lived in the Artist District, full of warehouse galleries of artists hoping to connect to wealthy benefactors.  A combination of validation from art curators, wealthy art consumers, and gallery professionals is what made art “art”.  Even if museums offer free entrance, privileged elites are the ones who define what art is.  That constrains what art can be for.
 
Looking at Sandoval’s “Pintura Sucia” in Cali’s Museo la Tertulia, I imagine MfA students discussing his painting in a class, about how his art was used to “raise awareness” or “consciousness” of homelessness.  Something tells me that the homeless man Sandoval used as a human paintbrush is well aware of homelessness.   So how did “consciousness” come to only apply to the elite class of people who purvey art in a museum? And what difference does it really make if an artist’s tribute to poverty ultimately finds its way to the wall of an art-collector’s mansion?
 
The curators of the Museo la Tertulia must have thought of this, and beyond the abstract paintings and sculptures was a brave homage to pro-Communist anti-imperialist graphic design.  Protest posters against the U.S. invasion of Vietnam to efforts to mobilize rural indigenous under Communist ideology.  A crumbling American dollar framed propaganda posters of Vietnamese women with rifles; in another, indigenous farmworkers posed proudly in an advertisement for a community gathering.
 
Fifty years of brutal violence between left-wing insurgents and right-wing (para)militaries have devolved into little more than a war between competing drug cartels today: the paramilitarized state and the mafia-like FARC. Worse, the tarnished image of the FARC, Colombia’s drug-dealing rebels, has been used to legitimate violence on multiple fronts, especially against those that have nothing to do with the FARC.  Violent repression of labor organizing continues in Colombia today with student activists disappeared, and the largest number of labor organizers assassinated in any country in the world; this exhibition was no small statement.
 
But like Sandoval’s “Pintura Suscia”, Marxist elites try to impose an ideology on people they haven’t bothered to consult or understand.  Indigenous workers only become “class conscious” or conscious at all when the elites tell them what to think.  Those farmworkers in the picture no different than the everyman in a beer commercial. They aren’t partners in imagining a new future, they are a target audience for an ideology that has already been set.
 
Diarist Anaïs Nin once said:  “It is the function of art to renew our perception.  What we are familiar with we cease to see.  The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.” The “new meaning” the Museo la Tertulia’s communist propaganda posters (just like the “new meaning” in capitalist advertisements for products) is part of a coordinated machine driven by public relations specialists and propagandists.  Even for the art in the rest of the museum, this “new meaning” is part of a conversation between elite artists and their consumers. A conversation that is not likely to be relevant for my new acquaintance standing on his bleeding hands between the cars stopped at the stop light for spare change.
 
Entertaining the driver’s as they pass with his acrobatic dance... is he an artist?  I’m not sure.  But there’s definitely a difference between what the art celebrated in museums has to say, who they are saying it to, and the art made on the street.
 
Graffiti is scrawled across the beautiful colonial architecture that lines the road as I return from the museum.  Some of it is haphazardly scrawled by gangs, marking their territory, but others are beautiful murals scrawled clandestinely on walls.  For my graffiti artist friends in high school, graffiti was about taking back the public space dominated by advertisements and replacing it with art.  Art that did not need a curator or wealthy benefactor to define it.  Much of graffiti art is simply the artists name, spray painted in meandering swirls, but Banksy consistently uses his art to make a statement: an anarchist with flowers instead of a Molotov cocktail, soldiers handing a bomb to children... all scrawled quickly on London streets.
 
It’s a beautiful thing for an introspective artist to share their profound reflections with the world around them, however right or wrong those reflections may be.  Flowers made out of car bumpers in the Museo la Tertulia, just like spray paint on a wall outside, can challenge us, like Nin says, to “shift our perception” and find “new meaning” in the world around us.  But this is a conversation between the artist and us.  A conversation we can’t let museum curators, propagandists or even artists control.
 
Art doesn’t happen when a rich man buys a painting and puts it on his wall.  It happens when an artist’s creativity stimulates our mind. It’s a conversation between the artist and the purveyor, with all the twisted shadings of class, race, sex, and inequality that conversation might or might not involve. Art happens when we appreciate it, and in appreciating it, we change the way we see and live in the world.  What we appreciate... that is what makes art.
 
The man who asked me for a drink of water and stood on his hands told me something as he performed. He made me think in a way I wasn’t ready to.  And that... that is the most powerful of art.

A couple of quotes I referenced in it: Tolstoy: “Art, in our society, has been so perverted that not only has bad art come to be considered good, but even the very perception of what art really is has been lost."  He sounds a bit like @Nora or me on a particularly irritable day.  But I prefer Anaïs Nin:  “It is the function of art to renew our perception.  What we are familiar with we cease to see.  The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.”

I'm not sure that's what's happening with some of these poorly put together, gimmicky popular works we're talking about.  They're not opening our eyes to new meaning, but reinforcing social dysfunction.  And that, to me, might be popular, but that doesn't make it art.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2017, 06:50:35 AM by Bradley Darewood »

Offline Peat

Re: Is "Talent" Subjective?
« Reply #58 on: August 06, 2017, 07:37:16 AM »
If a writer - or any other artist - doesn't really care whether anyone other than themselves like what they've done then, sure, ignore all the stuff about "good" and "right".

If a writer does want other people to like what they do and connect with their vision, then they should probably pay at least some attention to "good" and "right", which in a lot of cases boils down to "Here is the sum experience of other writers in terms of what connects with people and what doesn't".

If a writer wants as many people possible who'd be interested in the vision to like it, then they'd be well advised to immerse themselves in "good" and "right", particularly the parts of it subtitled "Do this or the gatekeepers will chuck you in the slush pile".

You don't necessarily have to follow all of what is "good" and "right", but I think about it as like building an aeroplane - you can totally ignore the law of gravity for extended periods, but only by playing really close attention to a lot of other rules to counter-balance this.

It's not like the boundaries permitted by "good" and "right" aren't wide as all hell and permit a great deal of subjectivity anyway. Sure, subjectivity allows art to flourish. But artists require objectivity as well - it's that or be the metaphorical equivalent of trying to hit a major league pitcher out of the park the first time you pick up a baseball bat.

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Re: Is "Talent" Subjective?
« Reply #59 on: August 06, 2017, 09:58:28 AM »
(I don't have much to add, but I'm loving the discussion...)
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