"A piece of art caused me to have an emotional reaction, is that normal?" My favorite line from Parks and Recreation. It's no surprise that I feel the state of art today is a wretched mess. Makes sense though. Before Modern Family and Community showed up on television a couple years back, everything seemed cynical, sarcastic, and appealed to our lower nature. In my mind, there was only one great film produced last year, and just a few good films produced. This is why I'm constantly drawn to the arts from decades long ago. I can throw in practically any black & white DVD and experience a genuine emotional reaction that one doesn't experience with the art of today.
Oozing classic film references, jazz music, and the hard boiled detective genre, LA Noire seemed like it was made for me. The game is built around the cinematic experience, and even allows for the gamer to skip scenes of gameplay in favor of moving the story along. Being a noir game, it didn't end well. Despite the strong story, the dazzling technological aspects, and all of the joy I experienced, the game ends with a slap in the face to the audience. LA Noire is the seductive brunette who takes the schlub, drags him along until she's used him up for all he's worth, then stabs him in the back and leaves him to die in the sewer. No, I'm not a gamer, so I wasn't prepared for such horrible treatment. Apparently, gamers like to be abused. I have zero problems with the way things turned out in LA Noire, in fact, I thought it was predictable. What I find endlessly frustrating is the manner in which it ended. I spent fifteen hours enjoying myself, and having the story within the game build and build and build. Instead of having the game come to a conclusion, the story takes a turn, then another turn, and then yet another turn, so that by the end of the game you've lost all emotional connection with anything and anyone in the game. What was building to an electrifying climax, instead ends leaving all of your built up emotion flailing in the wind, unsatisfied.
As Hitchcock learned from his film Sabotage, you can't build up the audience's emotion without giving them the chance to release that emotion. The makers of LA Noire surely knew what they were doing, and that's the reason for my sustained rage. The journey may be the destination; however, when you pass through an awful destination, it can ruin the entire journey. Too often it seems that the artist feels the need to throw garbage back in the audience's face. This is probably why I am content to live off the art from previous generations. Instead of learning from the mistakes from those who have gone before, artists will take those mistakes and, after seducing you, turn those mistakes into daggers with which to stab the audience. Art from the past was always consistent in delivering a fully realized emotional experience. Whether it was uplifting or depressing, it was fully realized.
Zooey Deschanel was asked if the songs she had written, as part of She & Him, were written in sarcasm, poking fun at music from the 60s and 70s. Deschanel responded that when you produce something from the heart, there can be no sarcasm, something from the heart must be absolutely pure. Why should we spend money on art that is pornographic in nature? Are today's artists not capable of creating something genuine and from the heart? There are superb artists out there, but I have to seek them out, as I continue searching the films and music of the 40s.