Media does not need to look good to be beautiful


Beauty is a standard many try to live up to, yet many fail to meet. Media shares this quality with us.

Directors don’t make movies or plays for money. Composers don’t write songs for money. Developers don’t design games or websites for money. Most of the time at least.

Beauty is a standard often used to describe how we are physically. Does it look nice? Does it sound nice?  Does it feel nice? However, beauty does not only come in what lies on the surface.

Media is beautiful beyond looks and sounds, and Celeste is a perfect example of how this is true.

Celeste, at its core, is a platformer where you control a young girl named Madeline, who is anxious and unsure of herself and who is trying to climb a mountain. Through most of her journey, she thinks “this is as high as I can go” yet continues to push forward in spite of her own thoughts.

While nearly at the peak, Madeline falls all the way down to the bottom of the mountain. This prompts the manifestation of her self doubt and anxiety basically telling her “I told you so.”

What follows is a masterpiece of storytelling which I cannot recapture. Madeline convinces her bad self to work with her to climb the mountain rather than pull her down. In a very fun final level, you make your way back up the mountain with each chapter of the game being represented in the arduous climb.

While Celeste does not look bad, there are better-looking games. Many claim that it is still beautiful, and I agree. Personally, I feel that the pixel-art style only helps to emphasize the story which is all about how Madeline learns to leave with anxiety and depression.

I am not saying that to be beautiful, there must be a deep or underlying message; beauty is whatever we want it to be. 

Beauty can be a message or theme.

Beauty can be surreal or reality.

Beauty can be just pleasing to look at.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What defines beauty to me is not what defines beauty to Google. I think beauty should be allowed to be more than “a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.”

Beauty is not just looks. Beauty is not just something that pleases aesthetic senses. Beauty is whatever we want, and creators should strive for beauty in more than just looks.