Fetishizing Pain: Suffering as a Gateway to Artistic Expression on Film

Examine the vein in various film media (especially Black Swan and Whiplash) suggesting pronounced suffering to produce great art. Both films, to this writer, state or otherwise imply that our protagonists must suffer under harsh instructors (especially in the case of Whiplash) to be successful in their respective fields. This ideology comes off as very unsettling, especially in an era where mental health and personal agency (especially for women) are becoming more recognized. A potential goal for the topic is to examine how movies of this sort condition young artists to burn themselves out in the pursuit of making art. Another film to examine could be “Lust For Life,” on the life of infamous tortured artist Van Gogh.

The goal in proposing this topic is not to condemn any movie mentioned wholesale, but to, instead, offer examination of less than wholesome implications in media that have not been fully explored for those purposes.

It will be necessary to explore mental health expertise to give structure to the topic. An important video to the formulation of this topic was the YouTube video “‘Rise and Grind’ Film Culture: A Rant” from content creator coldcrashpictures. Potential writers may find material for additional definition for this topic in said video.

  • The common trope of suffering as an obligatory driving force of creativity is purposeful implication by gatekeepers of media to ensure creative production remains under-compensated and under-appreciated. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when creatives/artists feel a creative writer's block and can only be escaped by artistic success which is further aided by capitalism and ends in eventual demise and consequent 'fetishization' of pain. It's why mental health is becoming an increasingly discussed, but not acted upon, topic. – gemstokes 3 years ago
  • Great topic. I really want to read this. It would interesting if you could find examples of "healthy" creatives who are able to create/follow their passions successfully and without a mentality of no-pain, no-gain. If you have access, I highly recommend the Netflix original series Abstract: The Art of Design, which highlights creators/artists and their creative process, and showcases both healthy and toxic relationships with the creative process and productivity. – Eden 3 years ago
  • This is a topic that I've had in the back of my head. There's a lot to dissect here. You can go into the psychology of art, the philosophy of art, art theory,and art history. One can also write their opinion from a shared experience being an artist themselves. The fetishizing of pain might be an exaggerated form of representing how passionate people are about their art medium. This would be a great read, there's so many possibilities to go about this. – lfmejia 3 years ago
  • I’d like to write this. Regarding the pain of others by Susan Sontag and on Photography analysed the imagery of pain and suffering. They would both be a good text to use for this article should someone snap it up 😬 – Lousands 2 years ago
  • This topic has a lot of potential to impact the lives of younger musicians (my daughter is a percussionist) in a positive way if written from the standpoint of a "compare/contrast." Looking at artists who "kill" themselves to become the best, vs. those who become the best without the personal torture. – mjwright 2 years ago

Want to write about Film or other art forms?

Create writer account