Moff’s Law

Inevitably, in an online discussion (especially a discussion about -isms in art) involving more than three people, some ignoramus will say something very like: Jeez, it was just a movie. STFU and enjoy it, okay?

How to respond the next time someone accuses you of overthinking a text or a film? Please allow me to direct your attention to the newly-coined Moff’s Law.

First of all, when we analyze art, when we look for deeper meaning in it, we are enjoying it for what it is. Because that is one of the things about art, be it highbrow, lowbrow, mainstream, or avant-garde: Some sort of thought went into its making — even if the thought was, “I’m going to do this as thoughtlessly as possible”! — and as a result, some sort of thought can be gotten from its reception. That is why, among other things, artists (including, for instance, James Cameron) really like to talk about their work.

Because I don’t know about you. But at least once a week, someone demands to know why I insist on thinking about things so much.

And unless you live on a parallel version of Earth where too many people are thinking too deeply and critically about the world around them and what’s going on in their own heads, you’re not helping anything; on the contrary, you’re acting as an advocate for entropy.

The discussion giving rise to this matter-of-fact observation that it’s actually both unreasonable and intellectually hostile to demand that everyone turn off their brains when they approach a book, movie, or other form of art, originated in the comments thread following  Annalee Newitz’ review of Avatar on  io9

About the author

MacAllister Stone is Editor in Chief of and She attended the Viable Paradise specfic writing workshop in October of 2006 and has been a member of the VP staff, since. She can often be found on the Absolute Write forums.