What I look for in art and entertainment

People have often questioned my taste with regards to entertainment; not so much as why I like the movies, plays, literature or music that I do, but rather why I spend time rambling on about about certain films or albums but then have only a one-line comment for others.

The reason I like movies, plays, TV, literature, music, or generally any form of entertainment does not have as much as to do with with a plot or storyline or even execution, but for the ideas and concepts presented that I can get out of it. This is why sci-fi is my favourite genre: one can eke out scientific, existential, and metaphysical value from this genre. To illustrate with concrete examples: Some of favourite TV shows include The X Files, Millennium, Star Trek (all of them), and The Simpsons. My favourite movies include Naked, The Jungle Book, The Wall, and many others; favourite plays include Quills and Dance of Death. My favourite music pieces include Queensryche's Operation Mindcrime, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, Primus' Sailing the Seas of Cheese and many others. My favourite works of literature include Web of Angels by John M. Ford, The Dark Tower series by Stephen King, Gödel Escher Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter, Alice in Wonderland and In Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, 1984 by George Orwell and Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman, just to list a few examples; in terms of comic books, I like Uncle Scrooge, Asterix, Tintin, Lucky Luke, and Spawn.

I love Star Trek, even though the show is remarkably inconsistent, because of the ideas: in an episode of Deep Space Nine called Field of Fire, a mediocre plot involving an assasination had a couple of great ideas: one, the use of a rifle that used transporter technology to transport the bullet to point-blank range of the target after being fired, and two, the use of a scope that could see through bulkheads and walls to make such a weapon useful and effective. Those two ideas alone made the show worth watching and extremely enjoyable.

Even given all this, in general I prefer anything that goes to an extreme, that pushes the limits of what is considered "acceptable" or "not acceptable". I think taking risks is a virtue in and of itself, because it shakes the foundations of your conceptions.

To sum it all up: to me, concept is more important than substance, consistency, or execution. This has its advantages: on the one hand, I can really go for the low-brow humour of the sort found in Spike & Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation while on the other hand, I can appreciate the intellectual content at a deep level in an album like The Residents's Wormwood or a comic book like The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.

Pseudointellectual ramblings || Ram Samudrala || me@ram.org