bice requested that I expand on the idea that different demographics are comfortable with different emotional mixes. For example, I don’t mind mixing cute (saccharine = happy) with horror (disgust*fear), but I can’t tolerate mixing horror with sexual. So I liked Elfen Lied, but I dislike most American horror movies because they’re very sexual and heavy on the gore porn. I also like mixing goofy slapstick humor with epic, Lovecraftian fantasy, so I enjoy the Berserk comic books even with the comic relief characters, whereas my friend Zeke couldn’t even stand this mix in Bone.
I figure the best way to analyze this question is to begin with genre art, then work backwards to the stereotypical demographics for that art. Unfortunately, I haven’t actually performed the analysis I’m about to introduce. In order to build a comprehensive treatment, we’d have to get a comprehensive list of demographics, entertainment genres, and the aesthetics we expect to find in those genres, and then match them up as best as possible. And finally, we’d have to present the case in a way that represents the findings without overemphasizing or underemphasizing anything. It will take a while for my intuition to supply data points I’ll be confident with. All I’ve done so far is to create the method, which will have to do for today’s post.
For example: musicals. What emotionality characterizes musicals? Neuroticism, for one. The emotional swings even come out in the deceptive cadences, frequent major/minor key shifts, and the heavy emphasis on the happy/sad emotional axis. Bittersweet, wild swings of emotion with very…sterile narratives, usually. But lately you see the nihilistic aesthetic a lot as well: the bombardment of nonsensical information, where the lesson is that “your pattern-matching capabilities can’t keep up, therefore patterns aren’t real, therefore give up on understanding anything”.
So, reasoning backward to demographics…who likes musicals? Chicks, gays, the upper middle class, high-conscientiousness strivers, and possibly some superstars* on account of their capacity for extreme emotional experiences.
I noticed a long time ago that the bittersweet aesthetic is common to all upper middle class forms of entertainment. I expect this gain/loss emotionality is where they get their notion of “progress”: one thing is lost (sad) but another is gained (happy). And yet nothing really changes, except maybe some people are nicer. Well, nobody said the progress had to be real. If it was, there might actually be consequences. It’s gnostic solipsism (everything is a dream, therefore the only thing that matters is how we react to circumstances).
Using my color aesthetics, it may also be possible to draw aesthetics directly out of the color palettes chosen for genre movies.
E.g. The black+white+red palette is flavored specifically for will+purity+desire. And the same palette is often used in horror, which often deals with the corruption or inversion of will/purity/desire and the resulting consequences. Or in “O Brother Where Art Though” they pull out all the green, so it’s like a world without health or holism.
*I find that I’m a bit more open to complex aesthetics now that my parietal is growing in. So even though I still listen to metal exclusively…classical music can give me that buzz now, if I’m on my game and really paying attention. Generally that’s a function of rest, diet, and exercise.