Overrated

By Johnny Apocalypse
Bschin2188@aol.com

Jan 1, 2011

So there I was, poking around on the internet. As usual, I was clicking on random links on Wikipedia, following articles wherever they led me, and I found myself looking at a picture of Leonardo DaVinci's "Mona Lisa".

Oddly enough, I first went to Wikipedia to look up something on nuclear weapons. I have no fucking clue how I landed on a page about the Mona Lisa.

I wasn't looking at the picture for more then two seconds when I remembered that this was supposed to be one of the greatest paintings of all time. Half a second later, I decided that it is, in fact, incredibly overrated.

Let's be honest. This is just a painting of a woman. It's very well painted, yes, but in the end it's just a woman. I see women everyday. I can see paintings of women at the local art museum or online, many of which are also very well painted. But I fail to see the fuss generated over this one painting.

"Johnny", someone says, "the allure of the painting is Mona Lisa's curious smile."

Bullshit. First, there's no mystery as to what she's smiling about. She saw DaVinci's cat (strangely named Admiral Turbosnacks) playing with some string and thought it was cute. And second, if I took a picture of a reasonably attractive woman with the exact same smile, my photo likely wouldn't go down in history as a great work of art.

I think the real reason the painting is famous is because DaVinci did it. An incredible man painted this, and because he was an incredible man, this gets elevated status. DaVinci was an artist, an engineer, an inventor, a musician, and many other things. He did more with his life then many, and I do think he should be recognized. While his skill as a painter is hard to rival, in the end the Mona Lisa strikes me as a well-painted woman, and little else.

By now, someone is probably wondering what sort of art I like, so I'll tell you- I like surrealism. You can come up with any justification of the genre you like, meaning and themes and all that, but my thinking is far simpler. I like it because it's interesting to look at. I'll try to toss a little speculation into interpretation from time to time, but more then anything it's because it catches my eye. Line up a dozen realistic paintings of women and toss a Salvador Dali painting at the end of the line, people are bound to look at the Dali because it's unusual. Whether Dali was a genius or a lunatic, he painted from imagination. Paintings of "real life" look good on the living room walls, but the flare of imagination, depicting the unusual or non-existent, seems to have much more purpose for me.

Plus, I can see a woman just by going to a grocery store. Where the hell am I going to find a melting clock?

Other artists I like besides Dali- Magritte, Monet, and Thomas Cole.

Some angered reader is probably going to call me a bonehead, and that's fine. You can keep your beliefs about the importance of theme, meaning, aesthetics, and tell me that I'm a retard because I view art without considering these traits. But I stand by my simplistic opinion. I want something interesting to look at.

While I'm discussing overrated art, let's talk about overrated poetry. I'm no big fan of poetry in general, but I know bullshit when I sees it. After all, I write it. And "Kubla Khan" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is bullshit in spades.

I first encountered this atrocity in a high school English class. Like many such classes, we were spending a few weeks analyzing poetry to death. Shakespeare, Eliot, Keats, etc. Then we get assigned Kubla Khan. The teacher is even kind enough to give us some background to the piece.

Coleridge spent a few days on an opium bender, and when he awoke he wrote this, claiming it was from a dream he'd had. He was then interrupted by someone, and was unable to recall the rest of the dream.

Now I'm willing to say that had Coleridge finished the poem, he might have tossed some meaning somewhere into this thing, likely in the last few stanzas. But since it's unfinished, all we have are powerful images. There is no theme here, just description. And most importantly, this isn't really an incredible piece of poetry, as it is a drug induced hallucination set to meter.

You know who else took drugs and wrote "poetry"? Jimi Hendrix. And while some of Hendrix's lyrics could be pretty decent (like "Castles made of Sand"), no one has ever claimed that "Purple Haze" is incredible poetry. And until they do, I'm not going to consider Kubla Khan to be anything more then a drug-addled fantasy.

I used this same opinion when I wrote my analysis for the English class. Sadly, I didn't get the highest grade in the class for original thinking.

I once wrote an entire article on overrated movies, so I'll spare that here. But how about overrated music? That's how I define The Rolling Stones- overrated music.

By saying that, I've probably been put on somebody's hit list, but hear me out. What the Stones did well is write crowd-pleasing songs. "Jumping Jack Flash" and "Satisfaction" are just that, crowd-pleasers and nothing more. There's no intensely poetic lyrics, no ambiguously incredible musicianship (although Keith Richards could do some solid guitar work at times). The Stones did rock music at it's most basic, and did it with lousy singing. There's nothing wrong with simple rock music- I am a big fan of AC/DC- but it seems like that much fame, fortune and notoriety should be reserved for more talented groups.

That's not to say I don't like some of their stuff, I just don't think they're as great of a band as the rest of the world does.

So now that I've successfully infuriated all of my readers, it's time to bring this article to a close with a clichéd closing paragraph. The Mona Lisa's so-so, Kubla Khan blows, and the Rolling Stones can roll off into the sunset. Blah, blah, blah, closing remark, closing remark. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to restock on ammo before angry internet surfers find out where I live.




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