Being pretentious is rarely harmful to anyone. Accusing others of it is. You can use the word “pretentious” as a weapon with which to bludgeon other people’s creative efforts, but in shutting them down the accusation will shatter in your hand and out will bleed your own insecurities, prejudices and unquestioned assumptions. And that is why pretentiousness matters. It is a false note of objective judgment, and when it rings we can hear what society values in culture, hear how we perceive our individual selves.
Dan Fox defends pretentiousness at length and it’s about time someone did.
When I hear one person label another as “pretentious”, it’s the former that I
lose respect for. This is much like calling someone’s work “self-indulgent”. If
your work isn’t self-indulgent, then you are not an artist, you’re an entertainer.