Created By: Gundamforce on April 4, 2011 Last Edited By: Gundamforce on March 6, 2016
Nuked

True Art Is Not Popular

The world's greatest works are obscure to the mainstream.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
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.
Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • April 4, 2011
    Arivne
    Delete.
  • April 4, 2011
    INUH
    Subjective Anvilicious Flame Bait. Should We Have This One?
  • April 4, 2011
    Chabal2
    I had actually thought about a similar idea, but that applied In Universe, named Pretentious Artist or True Art Is Elitist. Basically when the artist claims his work can only be understood by the elite, and any who claim to understand it is a lying member of the unwashed masses.

    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.

  • April 4, 2011
    Audun
    True Art is Obscure?
  • April 4, 2011
    peccantis
  • April 4, 2011
    Elihu
    The trope description is an incredibly long way to just repeat what Its Popular Now It Sucks says.
  • April 5, 2011
    SpellBlade
    Yeah, seems redundant, and definitely does not need examples.
  • April 5, 2011
    Gundamforce
    @ Chabal2: I could try and find a way to implement that into the definition.

    @ INUH, Elihu, and Spell Blade: Any suggestions to make it less so?

    @ Spell Blade: Very well, no examples on launch. I'll keep them just in case they can be deemed feasible somehow or for something like Troper Tales. I should mention that the other True Art tropes have subjective stuff all over it though.
  • April 5, 2011
    INUH
    ^My only suggestion is not to launch it.
  • April 6, 2011
    Prime32
    How is this different from Its Popular Now It Sucks?
  • April 6, 2011
    Gundamforce
    @ Prime32: It's supposed to be the counterpart to Its Popular Now It Sucks.
  • April 6, 2011
    Ardiente
    ME GUSTA
  • May 5, 2011
    Unknown Troper
    It would fit in with the other True Art tropes.

    There's even academic support for it: 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.

    Tintoretto's Masterpiece 'Old Man and Boy' was praised as his finest work until it was discovered his daughter had in fact been the one to paint it. Then people began to talk about how it showed an obviously feminine asthetic and in that light were able to point to many flaws. If that was really the case, then why had no one been able to find those flaws when Tintoretto was the painter? Perhaps this trope is not about popularity, but about points of view. This might also tie a bit into hipsterism, 'I knew about this thing before it was cool.' The thing doesn't change as it becomes known.

    Both tropes, True Art Isn't Popular, and It's Popular Now it Sucks, can then be combined with the two views expressed. The jist is "The quality of -some thing- is proportional to how well its known, with a reverse bell-curve"
  • May 5, 2011
    jaytee
    ^^^But how is it actually different? You can say it's a counterpart, but you haven't explained the need for such a counterpart, or even how the counterpart is distinct from the original.

    I could maybe see an in-universe trope for this, like Chabal suggested, but as written this is not needed.
  • May 5, 2011
    thewriter

    • 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 irnocially 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.
  • May 5, 2011
    INUH
    Yeah, still don't think we should have this one any more than I did last month.
  • May 5, 2011
    azul120
    Not a bad idea in itself, but just as loaded as Its Popular Now It Sucks.

    I'd say there needs to be a trope, or perhaps a dyad of tropes, that addresses opinions as to how much recognition a work or artist deserves, and whether said article gets too little or too much. Because the Its Popular Now It Sucks card is too often played up as a straw man argument, when there are actual reasons behind the criticisms. (That, and in some apparent cases of the former trope, when an artist or work gains more exposure, they come under even more extended scrutiny, which would come with time anyways.) Still, needless to say, it would every bit as much a SubjectiveTrope.
  • September 27, 2012
    acidxbel
    Kill it.
  • March 6, 2016
    pablo360
    Seems unnecessary: Since everything is unheard of the instant it's made, any example would necessarily be an example of Its Popular Now It Sucks, and this trope doesn't add anything.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=4q2vung4zbdyavwdhgysvukt