Sunday, June 9, 2013

Why American TV is better than European (Romanticism vs. Naturalism)

In art we distinguish today two broad categories: Romanticism, that recognizes free will, and Naturalism, that denies it

Big Brother and Superman.

Naturalists claim that an author must 'reproduce real life', 'as it is', without discrimination and without value judgments.  To 'reproduce' means to 'photograph'; by 'real life' they mean concretes we happen to observe; by 'as it is' they mean, 'like ordinary people live their lives'. But if you watch closely you will see that these Naturalists are very selective when it comes to two attributes of literature: style and characterization. Without selection it would be impossible to picture any character at all, either an unusual man, or an average person, statistically typical for a large segment of the population. This is why the Naturalist opposition against selection is applicable only to one attribute in literature: the content, or the subject. The Naturalist claim is, that the novelist/script writer should not have any choice when it comes to the selection of his subject.

Why Naturalism?

Naturalists have never answered this question, rationally or logically. Why should a  writer  'photograph' his subjects unselectively? Because that is what 'really' happened? To describe what really happened is the job of a reporter, or a historian, not a novelist. To enlighten readers/viewers? That is the job of science, not of literature. To improve the fate of humanity by exposing its misery? That is a value judgment, a moral cause and an didactical 'message', prohibited by Naturalist doctrine. To improve anything you must know what constitutes an improvement, and to know that means knowing what is the good and how to achieve it; and that requires a complete system of value judgments, an ethical system which is abhorrent to Naturalists. 


Naturalists hold that a plot is an artificial construct. Because 'in real life' events do not happen in any logical order. They object to the idea that events in human life should be in any way conclusive; they seldom happen in the clear-cut, dramatic situations required by plot. This is true, and that is precisely the chief argument against the Naturalist position. Art is a selective recreation of reality; its task is concretization of metaphysical essences. 

Not Romanticism, but Naturalism is escapism

The obvious question that the followers of the Naturalist School can't answer is: if heroes and geniuses are not representative of humanity given their rarity, why would freaks and idiots be regarded as representative? Why would the problems of a bearded woman be of greater universal importance than the problems of a genius? Why would the soul of a murderer be worth studying, while a hero's is not? 
The answer lies in the basic premise of Naturalism which is anti human, anti mind and anti life (whether the adherents have consciously chosen it or not). That notion is rooted in the altruist morality. Naturalism is a frantic escape from moral judgment, one long, wailing plea for pity, for tolerance, for forgiveness of anything. 

In  part excerpted from 'Naturalism' in the Ayn Rand Lexicon.

NOTE BY DEFSTER: Yesss, but why now is American TV better? The difference between Naturalism and Romanticism does not just apply to the content of the productions; it is also in style (or more accurately, the lack thereof), camera work, the choice of lenses, lightening, make-up, etc. Dutch/European TV is typically filled to the brim with 'style-less' Naturalism. Not just films, but across the board, news shows, game shows, commercials, the lot. 

Almost no one in Europe is aware of this form of manipulation. We are used to it from childhood and accept it as the standard. With time American TV is seen as 'phony' and 'simplistic'. The tragedy is that this 'over-styling' covers deep, philosophic meaning (Romanticism).

Naturalism (Western Europe):

Romanticism (American):

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