Is Red vs. Blue “Art”

How is Red vs. Blue Season 1 art? Well this might be one for the easiest questions to answer. While many things are unique to this show, it is more than just a game or a web animation. To start the Red Vs. Blue is a web show created by a group of friends. These friends work under the name of Rooster teeth and are based in Austin Texas. In the early two-thousands the game Halo: Combat Evolved was realest for the Xbox gaming console by Microsoft. The game was well received and many people interacted with it. However Red Vs. Blue is not based on the act of playing the game, no this series is based upon the characters within the world who interact in a variety of comedic situations. All these characters, over ahalo_combat_evolved_-_xbox_coverrching situations, many references and the setting of the show are direct references to the game Halo. But the web show is more than just about Halo. I have little knowledge of Halo outside of what my friends or class mates have imparted on me I’ve never owned a Microsoft console but I could enjoy the humor non-the less. I want to use Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction to show why this unique form of art. However, for me the fact that a non-Halo fan can enjoy the humor, situations and characters of the show demonstrates that this is more than a niche webs series or fab but a form of comedic art like that of TV sitcoms and comedic cartoons. The Characters of Serge, Grif, Simmons, Donut, Lopez, and Caboose Tucker Tex and Church all have unique personas interact within comedic situations we can all relate to.

Benjamin makes some very good points within The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Red vs. Blue has had a very long history, simply the web based show was not always seen on the site YouTube or their own website. It was often passed along between peers by being burnt on CD roms and watched like a DVD. Back in 2003 the distribution of web based film was very different than it is today, internet speeds and streaming quality forced the production to not only be released on a streaming site but also uploaded to a file sharing site to be downloaded, this practice has long sincervb_s1_poster passed with sites like YouTube becoming popular. Benjamin puts it very well on page 31 “During long periods of history, the mode of human sense perception changes with humanity’s entire mode of existence.” How one viewed the web series is much different from normal media and that comes with its own advantages and disadvantages however it is simply the changing of human perception and this changes nothing when it comes to deciding if this work is art. The exchanging s sharing and re watching of the web series does nothing to discredit it as art as well on page 28 “In principle a work of art has always been reproducible.” The work is not only reproducible in the sense that more could be created but the work can be pulled up in a variety of formats and resolutions at any time of the day. The jokes and camera work all the same and giving the same comedic value no matter how it is presented. Lastly, we have the way in which this series was created. We now call this style of entertainment Machinima simply everything shown on screen was directed in game without manipulation outside of the player’s interaction through a licensed controller. This while it might not be like a cartoon in this way it certainly is more like a television show where the director manipulates his actors to appear on stage where he wants and he directs the camera to show what he wants to show. “The camera that presents the performance of the film actor to the public need not respect the performance as an integral whole. Guided by the cameraman, the camera continually changes its position with respect to the performance.” (36) While the director uses a controller to place his camera the actor’s performances are controlled like any other media and if other forms of recorded media can be art then Red vs. Blue can be art as well.


Benjamin, Walter, and J. A. Underwood. The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction.    London: Penguin, 2008.


2 thoughts on “Is Red vs. Blue “Art”

  1. Great Article! I love you mention “However, for me the fact that a non-Halo fan can enjoy the humor, situations and characters of the show demonstrates that this is more than a niche webs series or fab but a form of comedic art like that of TV sitcoms and comedic cartoons.” I agree that this use of the game Halo relates to cinema as well. Did you consider the collective activity it took to create Red vs. Blue? I think that consideration would have been useful in your blog as well.


  2. I agree with the commenter above. Using art worlds/collective activity reading would have been useful. Understanding the amount of work and people that had to collaborate in order to make this would I have added more insight into this post. I also thought the amount of interaction that watchers would have with one another by borrowing the DVD to watch the episodes was interesting.


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