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Jack Dandy

General disappointment with Double Fine

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@KestrelPi: I'm merely explaining things from y point of view, I'm sorry if you feel that way, as for what you said about "It doesn’t matter if you can find a gay or trans person who is fine with this stuff. I can find you others who aren’t.", I'm going to be honest here, I value the opinion MORE of those I work with over some guy on the internet moaning about being offended by the content we help create. Just call it different strokes eh? Think about the cutscenes involving Tony Prince where all of that "eww gay" stuff isn't there and where he openly talks about his desires and stuff with Luis Lopez. Flip side of it all, you have to take the bad with the good in a game like GTA, if we cut out all the stuff that offends, we'd actually be left with very little content.

You're still using words I never used, and arguing against points I never made. I'm very sorry that you don't have any reading comprehension.

Notice how you totally ignored the bit where I said I wasn't offended, and the point isn't in fact about what does and doesn't cause offense?

Screw offense. I've been offended by things in the past, but they tend to be different categories of things. I'm not really interested in offense here. As I've been very clear about, when I say things are a problem, it's because they help to perpetuate things which harm people who are already marginalised in society. I lay this out very, very clearly in my last post, and you completely ignored it and go back to saying I'm offended.

No, I don't think it's fine that you're okay with things that I know, for a fact, from personal experience, help in a small way to maintain prejudices. This isn't just 'different strokes.' These things actually have an effect. Like I said, this is only a mild example, but it's still an example. The joke relies on the fact that even people who aren't actively homophobic find gay stuff 'icky' to have to deal with. That's a fact. There's no getting around it. And as long as media keeps on telling us that this attitude is normal and healthy, then it's going to continue to harm people. Maybe you can live with that, because this is a relatively mild example of that. But I didn't like it, I see it all the freakin' time in my life, and frankly I'm a little fed up with it.

Nobody's saying that you should always remove anything that could possibly offend anyone ever. Don't be ridiculous. All I'm suggesting, is: maybe try to avoid tropes which are known to perpetuate negative ideas about marginalised groups? Is that so crazy?

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Ash735, I realise now that the problem is that you haven't actually read my posts properly, and so were taking about different things.

I said that GTA is puerile, and that while it attacks many things, it never attacks its core audience of (predominantly) young white straight male gamers. To counter this you keep bringing up examples of white characters in the game who have flaws -- and so claiming that these represent/parody all young white straight male gamers in the way that "Impotent Rage" parodies liberals.

Michael and Laslow, your two examples, are not parodies of young white straight male gamers. They have nothing to do with that demographic, and one of them is actually based on a popular character loved by the core demographic were talking about.

I personally don't think that GTA is racist or homophobic or sexist, but I do think it's puerile, and I do think that Rockstar are careful to never take a particular stand that would truly upset it's core audience. As soon as they create a lonely pathetic character who is shown to waste their lives playing hundreds of hours of video games, living in a fictional world of power fantasties, escaping reality, in the same way "Republican Space Rangers" attacks Republicans, I'll agree with you that they attack everyone equally.

BUT -- I don't particularly want them to create that character, or rather, I don't want a game filled with hate for everything. I would like them to take a stand against/for something, rather than nihilistically and cynically attacking most things (like they largely do now). (Although, that said, their dark satire of torture in GTAV was very well done, and did take a very clever stand -- although it seems some people didn't get that the game was pointing out that torture is useless.)

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@KestrelPi: You must lack reading comprehension as well as you constantly gloss over the points when I bring up the positives roles portrayed in the game. There is no intent to "perpetuate negative ideas" about any group mocked in these games, again it comes down to how the person, YOU, see's that situation, you've just admitted "But I didn’t like it, I see it all the freakin’ time in my life, and frankly I’m a little fed up with it.", yet majority of the gay people who work here or have free lanced here have actually laughed at that stuff and suggested ways to do more jokes. Nothing is written to push some hate agenda towards any group in the games, once again, we leave it up to the person to decide for themselves, and we agree that not everyone will be happy about how their group is shown in these games, hell, once again the amount of mail we get that contradicts each other is amazing, I'm sorry if you read the situation like that but we're not here working on the game thinking "Hey, how can we screw over Gay people?", we're just here doing jokes, cheap, subtle, complex, or otherwise. It isn't crazy to want better written characters and events for your group, and we like to think we also cater to that, something I keep mentioning over and over, large scale, cover the broad scale of characters you see in real life.

I don't really feel like there's much more to be said on this issue as we obviously disagree about how the games show these kind of things, I've stated how we tend to look at things, some people will be ok with that, others won't be, we accept that, that's life, you can't please everyone. I'm sorry you feel that way, and again, I apologise for it, but that scene you mention there was no intent at all to suggest that being gay is wrong or "icky".

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As soon as they create a lonely pathetic character who is shown to waste their lives playing hundreds of hours of video games, living in a fictional world of power fantasties, escaping reality, in the same way "Republican Space Rangers" attacks Republicans, I'll agree with you that they attack everyone equally.

BUT -- I don't particularly want them to create that character, or rather, I don't want a game filled with hate for everything. I would like them to take a stand against/for something, rather than nihilistically and cynically attacking most things (like they largely do now). (Although, that said, their dark satire of torture in GTAV was very well done, and did take a very clever stand -- although it seems some people didn't get that the game was pointing out that torture is useless.)

I'll pass that on, I WOULD like to see a stronger parody of gamers, right now a lot of the stuff is in-game Internet and Radio based, which many people might not pay attention to or notice, Jimmy as a character got attention because he's a main character in a sense being the son of one of the protagonists so he's always used as the main example. You say you don't want to see something like that, I disagree, I would like to see something like that, I don't mind that kind of attack, I can laugh it off, I'm sure at least some of the millions of customers could as well. And for those that don't like, screw them, if you can't laugh at yourself and all that.

You at least noticed that tougher angle they were going for with the torture scene, there's more of that stuff around the game, but again, torture is the main one noticed as it's pushed to the front story wise being an actual main mission, as much puerile as the writing team go, there's a nice balance in there of more disturbing things which we like. :)

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@KestrelPi: You must lack reading comprehension as well as you constantly gloss over the points when I bring up the positives roles portrayed in the game. There is no intent to "perpetuate negative ideas" about any group mocked in these games

Now who said anything about intent?

The reason I gloss over your points about the positive roles is because they're not relevant, as Thunderpeel already addressed. One positive portrayal doesn't erase a negative portrayal, it's not maths.

I'm not saying anyone set out to be homophobic in what they did here, or even that it will, on its own, 'cause' homophobia. What it is, is an example of an attitude that society has what gay stuff is something to be embarrassed about or grossed out by, which is played for laughs which rely on the player at least in a small way agreeing with those attitudes. So what it's doing there, is reinforcing that attitude.

Perhaps the writers didn't think about it in that way. I'm sure they didn't mean to imply anything homophobic in what they were doing, but as someone who has both been guilty of and at the recieving end of this sort of prejudice, it's very obvious to me, and so in calling it out, the hope is that maybe writers will think more carefully about what they're saying with their jokes. There are plenty of jokes that you can make involving gay people that don't rely on the audience's latent homophobia.

This isn't rocket science.

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I don't have issue with them attacking gamers, per se, and I agree with you that it could be good if they did. I actually said that I don't want a game that's filled with hate for everything, ie. lazy cynicism.

I also have no desire to play "disturbing" things. Disturbing is easy. Anyone can write something that disturbs. The reason I liked the torture scene in GTAV is because it cleverly made a point while still being GTA. It seems some people didn't even notice that a point was being made -- which is a shame, but possibly a fault with the audience more than the writing, possibly. But the point was there, and very well made.

I take zero pleasure in the fact that Internet cafes in that game world are called "Tw@t". Or that the stock market is called BAWSAQ (sounds like "ball sack"). They're the type of jokes a 13 year old would make to his friends (no offence to any 13 year olds reading this -- I was 13 once, too, and there's nothing wrong with being 13 and laughing with your mates at puerile things).

Anyways, it seems we've stopped arguing now, which is nice. Now we can go back to disagreeing with the OP instead :)

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I don't get why some people can't just admit that maybe a game isn't a perfect paragon of virtue. That maybe, just maybe, there are problems that some people see that might not matter to you, or might even be invisible to you, but nevertheless are still issues. How it's not either horrible and misogynist or lovely and fine. It can be interesting and cool and fun and really well made and even well written and still have problems in spots.

Here's a thing. GTA IV. I liked GTA IV, to a point. I got kind of tired with it in the end, but I got to the end, and I remember basically enjoying it. But there's a mission that happens around mid-way that kind of weirded me out:

In the mission, you have to set yourself up on a same-sex date with a guy, in order to lure him out into the open and kill him. In comparison to some of the other missions, it's almost trivial. All you have to do is set up the date, then turn up, and then you can just stand up and kill him at any point and do the usual escape from the cops thing, and it's done.

And I thought about why this bothered me more than other missions in the game, and I realised that it's because the only reason this mission really seemed to have for existing was to give the player some giggles about Nico having to set up a gay date with this guy (I remember the cutscenes laying it on pretty thick) in order to give him an opportunity to murder him. There's nothing really clever about the mission, it seems like it's just there to pull off that joke. But it's a joke that relies on the player understanding the crew's homophobia, i.e. why they're finding the whole situation so embarrasing and funny, so I didn't really feel like I was 'in on it.'

And it wasn't a big deal but it was an odd moment that stuck out to me as being particularly uninviting, a particularly mean spirited joke where the punchline is nothing more like 'Haha, look at how awkward it is that Nico has to pretend to be gay'. Apart from being high school level yuks, it sort of assumes that the player, too, should find this situation hilarious. That the victim was an asshole was beside the point, it was how the mission was framed that I found to be a small problem.

It's not the end of the world, but you can see how it was just a little reminder that I was treading on someone else's turf? You can see how I just felt slightly less welcome?

I totally understand how most people could play that mission, find it funny and not be homophobes - they just maybe aren't really doing anything to analyse the source of the humour, or maybe they think the joke's on Nico for being a homophobe (which doesn't work for me, because I'd also feel uncomfortable playing a homophobic protagonist), or maybe they just didn't notice it as any different from any of the other missions. None of this makes them a monster, but it just means that just because you didn't notice a problem, doesn't mean that a problem doesn't exist.

It's like this for marginalised groups all the time. Hardly a day passes that I'm not reminded in some way that I'm different, And plenty of women will say that they experience things daily, even now, wich are little reminders of their lower status in certain situations in society. So all I'm really asking for is to imagine the possibility that there might be issues that you don't see as issues, but are still very real to the people experiencing them, and that maybe listening and learning about that perspective is maybe a good policy? This doesn't mean that every time someone says there's a problem there is a problem, but it should at least give one pause before immediately going on the defensive. If these games are good enough, they can stand up to a bit of scrutiny, can't they?

Still, I know I'm certainly fed up with straight people trying to explain to me why certain behaviours I see as homophobic are 'actually fine.' Because I get it -all the time-. And I'm sure women feel something similar. So I'm unsurprised that sometimes we might get a bit grouchy about it, even if it's not ideal.

These are not valid criticisms (and neither is feminist criticism).

Valid criticisms can be used to make games better.

Making certain groups more comfortable is simply pandering and had no baring whatsoever on the objective quality of the game.

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objective quality of the game.

I think that word does not mean what you think it means.

I know perfectly what it means. For example,

"Objectively, The Princess Bride is nowhere near as good as the swashbucklers it is parodying."

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If the portrayal of women doesn't change the objective quality of the game, why do you care that developers want to make games more feminist friendly?

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Because, he doesn't actually believe his own words.

In reality, he doesn't believe it would be good to have a world where, say, all games were about kicking fetuses, setting fire to cats and dancing on the graves of minority races, but actually they play 'objectively' brilliantly, whatever that means.

It's just that these particular things, which don't affect him, somehow draw his ire. And, with astounding arrogance, he imagines that HE is the arbiter of what is and isn't pandering, when actually the only people who know whether they're being pandered to or not, are... well, the people being pandered to.

There's plenty of things I might consider 'pandering'. For example, if a game was to include a gay character, and then be really patronising about it in the writing, constantly drawing attention to the fact that the character was gay and belabouring the point until any possible positive impact of the character being gay was erased, I would consider being pandered to. It would be a noticeably dishonest approach to being inclusive. A game avoiding jokes which rely on internalised homophobia to be funny isn't pandering. It's just about the lowest bar I could possibly set for a piece of entertainment in 2014.

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objective quality of the game.

I think that word does not mean what you think it means.

I know perfectly what it means. For example,

"Objectively, The Princess Bride is nowhere near as good as the swashbucklers it is parodying."

Yeah, you don't know what the word means. 8^(

See, "objectivity" can only be applied to hard facts, and once opinions start getting into the mix things get fuzzy. I can objectively say that Anomalocaris canadensis was a Cambrian era super predator, or that fluorine is the most electronegative element. However, I cannot objectively say that A. canadensis was the best Cambrian animal, or that elemental fluorine is too dangerous to be a useful in a laboratory setting.

What makes things fuzzy is that, of those two examples of non-objective statements, one isn't an arguable position while the other is. The best Cambrian animal will depend on personal tastes and values, but people can and do constructively discuss the value of fluorine, despite it being a highly opinionated subject. We also need to be weary of opinions disguising themselves as facts and falsehoods, but that's what critical thinking and research are for.

Edit: Technically only math is truly objective, if you want to be anal about it. But it's the fundamental language of the universe, so it gets a pass. Generally, science and statistics are only useful as long as you understand the limits of your knowlage, and are willing to accept that you'll never have at a perfect "true" representation of reality, only an ever-improving model.

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So the Mona Lisa is only *subjectively* a masterpiece? I believe in objective views of art, I'm afraid.
Yeah, but you probably wouldn't say that a beautifully rendered field of penises swaying in the wind in the background of the Mona Lisa would have had NO impact on the 'objective quality' of the work

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Nah, the Mona Lisa is considered a masterpiece largely due to Western historical bias. Can't get more obviously subjective, imo.

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Nah, the Mona Lisa is considered a masterpiece largely due to Western historical bias. Can't get more obviously subjective, imo.

I find myself agreeing with this actually. It's, I guess, objectively a masterpiece in that over time, our standards of what make a particular works of art masterpieces have coalesced around the sorts of qualities that the Mona Lisa has, which then becomes a sort of self-reinforcing historical bias which kind of guarantees it a permanent spot in as a masterpiece, but any attempt to break down what actually makes the Mona Lisa a masterpiece in an 'objective sense' suddenly start to sound awfully subjective. I mean, I agree it's a masterpiece. But I couldn't explain to you why in objective terms.

It doesn't mean you couldn't get 100 art experts together and every one of them agree that it's a masterpiece, but I have to wonder, if it had never existed, and the painting had been discovered in a box, yesterday, with no idea of who painted it, whether the same 100 art experts would agree it counted as a masterpiece. I'm not so sure. And it's impossible to answer, because our modern standards of 'masterpiece' have themselves been flavoured by works like the Mona Lisa.

Or, to put it another way, you rarely get critics agreeing universally that anything new is a masterpiece, and that must only be because subjective views coalesce into faux-objective historical consensus over time.

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So the Mona Lisa is only *subjectively* a masterpiece? I believe in objective views of art, I'm afraid.
Yeah, but you probably wouldn't say that a beautifully rendered field of penises swaying in the wind in the background of the Mona Lisa would have had NO impact on the 'objective quality' of the work

If it had a beautifully rendered field of penises then it would no longer be the Mona Lisa, would it.

If the Mona Lisa is too subjective, then I nominate Sunflowers.

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So the Mona Lisa is only *subjectively* a masterpiece? I believe in objective views of art, I'm afraid.
Yeah, but you probably wouldn't say that a beautifully rendered field of penises swaying in the wind in the background of the Mona Lisa would have had NO impact on the 'objective quality' of the work

If it had a beautifully rendered field of penises then it would no longer be the Mona Lisa, would it.

If the Mona Lisa is too subjective, then I nominate Sunflowers.

I'm talking hypothetically - you might believe in objective standards in art (I don't for reasons elaborated upon above) but I don't think you believe that it's as simple as looking at how objectively well painted the thing is, and leaving it at that. I suspect you think there are more complex and multifaceted things that make up what is/isn't a masterpiece, and that there's more to consider here than whether the brush strokes were done really well. Whereas the person we were talking to seemed to resist the idea that something like content might be considered as part of what makes a game good or not.

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So the Mona Lisa is only *subjectively* a masterpiece? I believe in objective views of art, I'm afraid.
Yeah, but you probably wouldn't say that a beautifully rendered field of penises swaying in the wind in the background of the Mona Lisa would have had NO impact on the 'objective quality' of the work

If it had a beautifully rendered field of penises then it would no longer be the Mona Lisa, would it.

If the Mona Lisa is too subjective, then I nominate Sunflowers.

I'm talking hypothetically - you might believe in objective standards in art (I don't for reasons elaborated upon above) but I don't think you believe that it's as simple as looking at how objectively well painted the thing is, and leaving it at that. I suspect you think there are more complex and multifaceted things that make up what is/isn't a masterpiece, and that there's more to consider here than whether the brush strokes were done really well. Whereas the person we were talking to seemed to resist the idea that something like content might be considered as part of what makes a game good or not.

I seriously think he just didn't comprehend what objectivity is, and we've effectively pushed him out of the discussion because we're now talking about the nature of art and how much of its ascetic appeal is based off of cultural values, personal taste, and technical execution.

It's too early in the morning, but there's a term for being unable to understand that things you like are imperfect (or outright terrible), and things you don't like can be liked by other people and *usually* have merits. There's going to be things that come down to taste, and there's going to be things that are completely irredeemable, but people have such a hard time grasping that concept.

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I'm not engaged in the bigger debate here, I was simply stating that some of use don't have such a narrow appreciation of the "objective", that's all. I realize that doesn't mean that everyone likes everything, and so TASTE will always be subjective, but I do believe that you can objectively have masterpieces that require the viewer to learn how to appreciate them.

I also believe this what good critics do: Objectively assess something, regardless of their personal tastes, but that's a whole other debate.

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I'm not sure it IS another debate.

I would never want to pay attention to a critic who aspired to objectivity. People are subjective through and through, so I've no idea what an objective assessment is supposed to tell me about something. I'd much rather see criticism filtered through someone's subjective lens, so that I can get an idea of how a particular human experienced a work. That seems like it would actually tell me something.

If the criticism is well written enough I will not only understand more about the personal experience of whatever it is, but I will get an understanding of whether my experience is likely to be similar or different, and regardless, over time, I will come to identify critics who find value in similar things and vice versa.

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So the Mona Lisa is only *subjectively* a masterpiece? I believe in objective views of art, I'm afraid.

It's interesting to note that we always use the Mona Lisa as the go-to example. Does everyone really believe it's the most masterful or beautiful or thoughtprovoking painting they've ever seen? Probably not, many of us are just bending a respectful knee to the status that others give it. That is to say, there's an element of social conformity, above and beyond the Mona Lisa being a good painting.

In the case of the Mona Lisa, at least some of its current reputation probably comes from the public interest generated by its theft in 1911:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/18/world/europe/mona-lisa-the-theft/

On a related note, here's an interesting study that suggests the role of chance and social influence on what music becomes popular:

http://www.npr.org/2014/02/27/282939233/good-art-is-popular-because-its-good-right

That being said, yes, it's hard to imagine my completely skill-less stick figures competing with something drawn with actual skill, so I'm not saying social influence is the whole story, just that it's one aspect.

I do think that in order to function as artists we have to assume that the building blocks of art impact most humans in similar ways. For example, in music the 7th degree (or leading tone) of a major scale will sound like it wants to resolve to the 1st/8th degree (or tonic). To what extent this is an inherent neurological thing about humans and to what extent it is socialized, I don't know, but either way, in order to make music we must assume this response is shared amongst neurotypical or similarly socialized people, at least. So that could be considered "objective," I guess.

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Otherwise it's nothing more than wind baggery: "This movie sucked because, well, I don't like horror movies."

I think that's awfully reductive, with regard to what a subjective critique is capable of saying to people.

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Just to add fuel to the fire:

Objectivity is intersubjective agreement, not non-subjectivity.

http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/27902304

:)

Obviously I've never read the paper, and from the one page I can read, it's not even clear what "intersubjective agreement" means. Probably "agreement among people." In that case, the argument (however obscure and theoretical) would be consistent with the idea of cultural biases creating what are viewed as "masterpieces".

Of course, we haven't really defined what a "masterpiece" is in this discussion either, so we're probably not talking about the same thing anyway.

EDIT: "Intersubjective agreement = objectivity" seems to be a pretty common idea in philosophy, though not universally accepted. http://www.iep.utm.edu/objectiv/

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Otherwise it's nothing more than wind baggery: "This movie sucked because, well, I don't like horror movies."

I think that's awfully reductive, with regard to what a subjective critique is capable of saying to people.

Obviously, many critics aspire to say what they think most people would agree with -- especially work-horse movie reviewers. If they say a movie was bad for reasons a, b, and c, then their hope/assumption is that most people would agree with them on that point if they saw the movie.

I think that's what Thunderpeel means by "decent journalism [= popular journalism?] aspires to objective criticism, as defined by that theory." I think most everyone can agree to that.

Also obviously, however, the potential for disagreement with any given review is large, and we've all disagreed with reviews over the years. I would say that point alone is sufficient to establish that there is no "intersubjective agreement" according to the term used in that paper, and hence no objectivity.

In a lot of ways, that 1973 philosophy article -- which seems from the first page (lol) to be merely induction of two old white philosophers' apparent definitions of words -- does a great job of demolishing the idea of an objective review. You might still be able to try to claim an "objective masterpiece" for really old stuff like Plato or the Mona Lisa, citing "intersubjective agreement," but you certainly can't make such an argument for 99% of reviews in "decent journalism."

I do think that in order to function as artists we have to assume that the building blocks of art impact most humans in similar ways. For example, in music the 7th degree (or leading tone) of a major scale will sound like it wants to resolve to the 1st/8th degree (or tonic).

I would argue that this is also merely your Western conditioning. I am not a good or knowledgeable musician, but I know that different cultures have had completely different approaches to what "sounds right".

http://www.wmich.edu/mus-gened/mus150/WorldMusic.htm

(I'm really uncomfortable with the crass distinction between Western and non-Western made on this site, but it suffices for my point.)

"The instruments of the gamelan feature pitches that sound 'out-of-tune' to Western ears (microtones). As a result, this music cannot be represented accurately with Western notation."

Probably a good book out there by a white guy trying to find consistency and "universal aesthetics." Let me know if you know of one.

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So the Mona Lisa is only *subjectively* a masterpiece? I believe in objective views of art, I'm afraid.

Yes, the idea that the Mona Lisa is a masterpiece is 100% purely subjective. There is no such thing as an objective view on art as its impossible to separate personal feelings and personal opinion when talking about artwork. If you truly believe that one can have an objective view on individual pieces of art, then you really don't understand what objective means.

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