Roger Ebert tweeted what he thought was a quote of mine yesterday. It’s been retweeted “100+ times” — which could mean many more — and many are reacting to it.
Nice of Mr. E. to name check me, but there’s one little problem:
I never said it.
During the neverending video-games-are-or-aren’t-art debate on Ebert’s blog, several people brought me up, citing my definition of art from Understanding Comics, and one of them paraphrased the definition which Ebert then put quotes around and tweeted.*
Here’s what I actually said way back in 1993:
“Art, as I see it, is any human activity which doesn’t grow out of either of our species’ two basic instincts: survival and reproduction.”
…followed by pages of explanations of how I don’t see art as an either/or proposition, but a component of human behavior that exists to varying degrees in nearly everything we do.
Now here’s the paraphrased (i.e., wrong) version that was rampaging across the Twittersphere yesterday:
“Art is is something people do that doesn’t get them money or sex.” (Scott McCloud)
Not quite the same.
So… Knowing how these things work, I just thought I’d make special mention of it here so that maybe the correction will follow the meme, at least enough to keep it off my tombstone.
For much more than a sound bite on my ideas on art, check out Understanding Comics pages 162-169 and Reinventing Comics pages 42-51.
This all goes with the territory of course, and there are worse problems than being misquoted by Roger Ebert, but I am thinking of starting a list of “Things I Never Said.”
Maybe I’ll start with “McCloud thinks Egyptian hieroglyphics are comics.” [Um… No. UC page 12.]
[Edit to Add #1: No I don’t blame Ebert, it was an honest mistake.]
[Edit to Add #2: Where I come down on the videogames = art question.]
*[Edit to Add #3!: Neil Figuracion originally took the blame, until we both realized it was someone else.]