“Hapless soldiers in the future pointlessly defend a pointless box canyon on a pointless planet.”*
Red vs Blue is a science fiction, comedy web series produced by Rooster Teeth that began in 2003. The series follows two groups of opposing soldiers that battle over land, that is described as, “the least desirable piece of real estate in the known universe: a box canyon in the middle of nowhere” (Rooster Teeth). The series is a parody based on first-person shooter videogames, that started with Burnie Burns’ (the series’ creator) voiced-over gameplay videos of Halo: Combat Evolved. Since its initial release over a decade ago, the series is on its fourteenth season and has been nominated for and won a variety of awards, including the Webby Award for Animation in 2013. Despite Red vs. Blue’s success as a web series, could it be considered art?
What is art?
There are numerous opinions on what makes good art but defining art is a little more difficult. There have been numerous uses for the word and its use has evolved, to the point where, “art [becomes]… offering to express a general human (i.e. non-utilitarian) interest… [by] independent workmen and skilled workers producing a certain kind of marginal commodity” (Williams 32). This means that art could be defined as a product that is created by individuals with the intention of appealing to others. This relates to Becker’s idea that, “art making lie somewhere between the extremes of one person doing everything and every smallest activity being done by a separate person. Workers of various kinds develop a traditional “bundle of tasks””(Becker 9). With this information art could be defined as a product created by an individual or collective with the intention of having a non-utilitarian or impractical interest for viewers. Does this mean Red vs. Blue is art?
With this concept of art in mind, Red vs. Blue could be considered art. Red vs. Blue is produced by Rooster Teeth and has a team involved in the creation of the web series. The individuals involved in the series creation, would be the skilled collective, have particular jobs to fulfill as writers/creators, directors, animators, and voice actors and those tasks come together to create the final product. The series is also not intended for a practical use, it is intended to be viewed by individuals for their own interest. The individuals viewing the end product make the decision to view the series, meaning that the individuals are viewing because of their interest in the series. The series has a collective of individuals that developed it as a representation for viewers interest. Red vs. Blue may not be an obvious kind of art work but there are aspects of the web series, which arguably classifies it as art.
Sources: Becker, Howard S. Art Worlds. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982. Rooster Teeth. "Red vs. Blue". <http://roosterteeth.com/show/red-vs-blue> Williams, Raymond. Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. Cary: Oxford University Press, USA, 1985. *Rooster Teeth description of series.