So a couple days ago my dad showed me this video of some sort of musical performance. First impression I thought it was some sort of Broadway show that was performing Christmas carols. And then my dad told me it was some sort of mega-church production and I just stared at it in complete shock and horror. Don’t take this as me being a prude or saying “churches can’t do that”. It just took me off-guard because my preconceived notions of church is that they… well, don’t do this.
However, whether or not it was a church-production, I had some major problems with watching this, aside from feeling physically exhausted afterward. They were just making everything so totally over the top and way too loud. Silent Night became this loud jazzy dance number and it was just like, “You guys are totally missing the point.”
I’ve seen this sort of thing happen a lot, not just with music, but with art of any kind. Often times when a piece of art starts out as something small and simple but it becomes really popular, people will replicate it, do their own versions of it, blow it totally out of proportion and make too big a deal of it.
In the case of music, we take these old, old songs which, at their conception, had simple compositions with simple lyrics, yet powerful messages behind them. They became popular classics, and then people started doing their own versions of them, until soon they get remixes into different genres and it becomes something it was never meant to be and we totally forget what it was supposed to be.
You could apply this same principle with the likes of famous quotes and even story cliches or tropes. In the case of cliches, they became cliches because there was a point where they worked, and they probably worked in such a way that it was too simple for people to really understand. They replicated it but had to make it bigger and better to the point of overdoing it and making it look stupid. In the case of famous quotes, people like to repeat them over and over again until they completely lose all meaning and when you hear them (even in context) it can sound silly even if it really isn’t.
I’ve struggled before both as a writer and an enjoyer of stories thinking about a lot of things as to what makes a story objectively good. And I’ve come to the realization that there are a lot of things that I like which aren’t necessarily seen as good, but I like them anyway. Because they’re simple. They’re flawed and they’re not ashamed of it. They’re not flawed in such a way that it is legitimately terrible storytelling or anything, but just that it’s not the most quality thing you could find. Maybe the characters are stupid, say or do stupid things, and maybe the plot is somewhat convoluted. And I’ve realized that, sometimes, that’s okay.
Sure, it can be fun to see these big, extravagant, over-the-top things sometimes, but often times those get in the way of smaller things, and in my experience it’s the smaller things that make the largest impacts. Maybe that’s why some people like to brag about being in a small fandom, because if the thing they like were to get any more popular, it might not seem quite as special as it once did.
I’m not entirely sure if this post was coherent or made any sense, but I hope it left you with something to think about at the very least. I’d like to leave you with an image or to to think about as well. What do you think is more beautiful: a field full of flowers in every color you can possibly think of, or a dead, devastated landscape with a single, small flower growing among the dust?
Simple beauty. It’s small, and you have to look for it, but it really is worth it once you find it. Don’t let it be poisoned and misconstrued into something it was never meant to be. All too often that seems to be the case with everything I see.