I was taking the devil’s advocate role in a discussion, and the point I was arguing was a perfectly valid one that gets glossed over far too often by the non-business folk, and I think it’s a damn shame. So I present it to you.
What is entertainment, an industry or an art form? A lot of people say it’s an art form, a lot of people say it’s an industry. But when people look at the quality of a work, they don’t consider one common thing when the person writing it was forced to look at it from a mainly “industry” perspective. And that is the intention of the work.
Let’s say someone sets out to write the worst work they possibly can. Would you say the end result, if it was bad by normal standards, was a failure to create a good work or a success in creating a bad work? I’m sure most people who actually know the intention would go for the second, but a casual person would go for the first. Since everything is a success and an equally opposite failure, you have to think about the work’s goal when criticizing it.
So when Hollywood churns out yet another movie that follows the same, predictable structure and attempts to appeal to the lowest common denominator, the goal is generally sales. If the intention of a work is to sell to as many people as possible, and it brings in millions despite being terrible (I’d list off examples, but I’d rather not take a pot-shot at a bunch of movies), is it a success or a failure? Generally a success, but is it high quality or low quality?
The argument I took at the time was that the definition of “quality” is flawed. Quality should include the intention of a work, even if the intention is to sell to as many people as possible by being as LCD-appealing as possible. The position I argued is that a work’s “quality” should include its appeal to its target audience if its goal was to appeal to that audience.
Does this mean a lot of otherwise “bad” movies get to be labelled as being of at least decent quality? Yes. Does that also mean that a work that was “superior” to such movies for other reasons, but had the same goal, should be looked at as a little worse than they would be without including this in the definition? Also yes. They didn’t do as well at achieving their goal, so that part of the definition of “quality” should be ranked lower, which should affect something overall quality score, if quality can even be quantified.
What’s my position? I’ll hold off on that until I feel it’s more appropriate.