Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

August 1, 2014

Not Comics: Rebecca Mead On Relatability

There's an interesting post/article over at the New Yorker about the idea of "relatability" as a value in and of itself. I don't have any problem with any criteria anyone wants to bring to the art they consume, but I do bristle a bit when consumption preferences act as unchallenged stand-ins for how we decide what art has worth and what that worth might be. While it's fun for me to see my own problems through a fun-house mirror or simply made grand and compelling on a screen, on a stage, in the pages of a novel, I also value equally learning about the rest of human experience not directly my own. In that way, I'm convinced art has helped me become a better person and helped more of the world become less consumed by conflict and subsistence than it otherwise might be.

It's also baffling to me that someone that exists as a person in western culture couldn't find at least one thing in every Shakespeare play to which to directly relate, but that's one of the problems I have with relatability as a standard of worth: it tips things in favor of blunt, direct engagement and most of the valuable art I've experienced in my life is not that. Anyway, as it's still summer, I urge you to see Shakespeare up on its feet, including the two works in question. I also urge you before Labor Day to pick up a comic that features someone that doesn't look or think like you, particularly if like me most art leans your direction by default.
posted 12:40 pm PST | Permalink

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