True Art Is Not Popular
The world's greatest works are obscure to the mainstream.


(permanent link) added: 2011-04-04 00:40:55 sponsor: Gundamforce (last reply: 2012-09-27 06:03:15)

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Needs a Better Description, Rolling Updates, No Launching Please, Seen It a Million Times

Alt. Titles: True Art Is Obscure, True Art Is Indie, True Art Is Underground, It's Not Popular, So It Rocks.

Categories: True Art, Art Tropes, Audience Reactions, Public Medium Ignorance

Author's Note: Trying to make a counterpart to It's Popular, Now It Sucks. Could use plenty of help with the trope description. Currently True Art Is Not Popular is a redirect to It's Popular, Now It Sucks, which will be used for this once this trope is launched.

Perhaps the most notable example of the True Art tropes, it has been said that some of the most amazing works ever devised are ones...that are relatively obscure.

When dealing with media, sometimes it is difficult to overcome the feeling that, however much you may love a TV show, the only reason it exists is to make money. Sure, it might have great writing, acting, animation, but when it comes right down to it, it got produced because someone wearing a fancy suit thought a bunch of other guys wearing fancy suits could make money off of it. This feeling is even more overbearing when you consider all the TV shows you don't like - and likewise can only come up with the profit margin being the reason why anyone produced those horrible things.

But alas, there are works and art forms that are aloof to the mainstream art world that are just as good, if not better than their commercialized counterparts. Whether the artist is relatively new to the scene or for some reason can't appeal to a large audience, if they can make something that appeals and/or helps advance the art, they will receive much praise and critical acclaim from fans and critics alike.

Much of the main appeal of these underground and/or unpopular works, is that these works are not hampered down by things like Executive Meddling, or at least not as much as commercialized ones are. One of the major benefits to this is that these artists are given much more freedom than most commercialized works, and thus are free to experiment as they please.

Such experimentation in these works might include content that would otherwise be unknown or even shunned by the mainstream such as elements that are illegal, taboo, unconventional, rebellious, ancient, angsty, or foreign, but the bottom line is basically anything the artist so pleases to make their work great.

The end result; if done right, can be something cutting edge or even revolutionary. Perhaps something that will make, name, and/or codify tropes here in TV Tropes. [[hottip:*:Mainstream works can also do this and much of the above as well, but this is relatively ignored.]]

Likewise, considering that the artist isn't popular (yet), the artist can't afford to be a raging egomaniacal tool who believes that they can treat their fans like dirt and don't need to listen to their editors, and doing so can make things go downhill fast. And finally, some things are better in small doses, in which case the last thing you want is to be over-exposed to it. Said popular works and artists tend to get spoken quite frequently and often, which can get tiresome after awhile.

Whatever the case, perhaps; if done right, the said work will get a lot of popularity and critical acclaim.

This trope has caused some problems though. Many that follow this creed tend to use it mainly to sneeringly look down on popular works they don't like as not being "true art." Not to mention, there is the Double Standard in the saying that "the more mainstream something is, the more critical people are at it." High profile works in particular are prone to getting picked apart, while lesser known works are looked on much more favorably, with their flaws mostly overlooked.

And worse, if the obscure title does become popular; even through this, the cries of It's Popular, Now It Sucks will pop up, even if nothing has changed quality wise.

Compare with Doing It for the Art, Critical Dissonance, Sacred Cow, Vindicated by History, and Nostalgia Filter. Contrast with Creativity Leash, ~They Just Didn't Care~, Lowest Common Denominator, and Money, Dear Boy.

See also It's Popular, Now It Sucks, the flip-side of the coin.


Examples:

  • Happy Endings featured Hipsters that cared so much about being unpopular and untrendy, they didn't put an effort into anything or care about anything. They like things ironically and where outrageous clothes for no other reason than it being unconventional. One woman expresses herself by wearing an empty Fanny pack everywhere, another hipster sits in an wheelchair all the time, and another hipster refuses to play instruments with his dominant hand because he doesn't wish to go mainstream.
  • Common in cartoons, Animaniacs had a concert pianist telling the audience they can't hope to understand what a favor he's doing them by playing the piece.
  • Oswald Spengler writes in The Decline of the West that many famous western works (Nibelungenlied, Goethe's Faust, a good part of classical music) is only understandable / enjoyable for people who are artists themselves. Contrast this with the classical culture - anyone can understand Aesop's fables, or Homer's epics.
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