This week’s issue brings to mind a quote by Pauline Kael in her essay “Trash, Art, and The Movies”:
“The romance of movies is not just in those stories and those people on the screen but in the adolescent dream of meeting others who feel as you do about what you’ve seen. You do meet them, of course, and you know each other at once because you talk less about good movies than about what you love in bad movies.”
We feel a kinship between each other and our cultural trash. Because, as great as Niko Bellic’s story arc is, it’s really the car crashes into innocent pedestrians that we talk about with our friends. It’s Duck Hunt that’s our second most memorable game on the NES. A great deal of our history with videogames is about appreciating trash.
The notion that games are art, that they can move us in profound ways, has only recently started gaining traction. For the most part, we have all been Soulja Boys playing Braid and getting enormous pleasure out of saying “woooop!” as we rewind time. For every BioShock in our lives, there are 10 Marvel vs. Capcom 2s: stupid, insanely fun and the source of endless discussion with our friends. There’s also the Awful, and we love those games too – our shared misery turning into lighthearted reminiscence.
A good portion of the population considers playing any videogame a guilty pleasure. However, that perception is beginning to change, fueled by the discovery that even the guiltiest of pleasures contain moments of brilliance. Or, as Pauline Kael says at the end of her essay, “Trash has given us an appetite for art.”