Art Is Not, Has Never Been, nor Should It be, Apolitical

When Vice President-elect Mike Pence attended the musical “Hamilton” on Broadway, he was addressed from the stage by the current actor portraying Aaron Burr with a message from the cast, crew, and producers. Essentially he said that the cast were representative of the diverse America that hoped Pence and the administration he was representing would protect all citizens of America. Pretty innocuous, if you’re not a conservative who thinks that diversity and equality means oppression.

The reaction from the Conservasphere was fast, predictable, and oh so wrong. They denounced the cast for their actions and for making the performance “political” like art should not be political, and isn’t inherently political. Here’s a tip, art has always been political. From the earliest attempts at art on cave walls art has been political. Hieroglyphics? Political. Greek Statues? Political. Roman Architecture? Most definitely political.

This idea that art has ever been apolitical is just wrong, and the belief that comes with it that art should not be political is dangerous. Believing that there’s nothing political in art leads to complacency, and an inability to look at art critically. Every piece of art, be it movies, music, sculpture, painting, embroidery, theater, television, books, newspapers, comics, everything, is political. There is always a message behind a piece of art, some of them aren’t as open about their message as others, not everyone is “Hamilton”, but all of them have a message. Even those that say that they “have no message” have a message. The fact that they are professing to not have a message is a message unto itself. Terry Pratchett was specifically talking about Fantasy writers and their dependence on Tolkien, but his point is extremely relevant. “J.R.R. Tolkien has become a sort of mountain, appearing in all subsequent fantasy in the way that Mt. Fuji appears so often in Japanese prints. Sometimes it’s big and up close. Sometimes it’s a shape on the horizon. Sometimes it’s not there at all, which means that the artist either has made a deliberate decision against the mountain, which is interesting in itself, or is in fact standing on Mt. Fuji.” The idea that your art is apolitical is itself a political statement.

And for that matter, art shouldn’t be apolitical. Art has the unique ability to change culture, and influence people. If you aren’t making a statement with your art you have no story. Themes are political by nature, and if you don’t have a theme in you art you have no plot.

Art is political, realize that, and stop being disingenuous about what it is.

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Evangelical Christianity Needs to Take a Good Look at Itself

Honestly, the way that many of my friends and fellow Christians have been conducting themselves in the past few months honestly makes my skin crawl. Between the support of the absolutely deplorable politics of Trump, or the reaction to Jen Hatmaker saying “Hey, maybe we shouldn’t tell LGBT+ people that they’re not inherently going to hell based on who they are, and maybe we’re mistaken about homosexual relationships.” you’d think that the message of Christ was “Take advantage of everyone you can, enrich yourself at the expense of the poorest among you, degrade those that are unlike you, and don’t love your neighbor.” Which, maybe I’m missing some lessons from my youth, but I don’t remember that being taught in the kids department. Granted, that would probably be a better message for many people that claim the mantel of “Evangelical Christianity”, but that’s not what Jesus said now is it?

What was it that Jesus actually said? Something like, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Take care of those less fortunate than you.” “Don’t judge others or you will be judged the same.” Personally I feel that last one might be the most pertinent for many of my fellow Christians. Especially those that choose to judge Hillary Clinton by the actions of her husband (who she clearly has completely under her control since she’s a witch, or is it because she’s in league with Satan? I can’t keep up with the inanity these days.) but yet excuse Donald’s many, many, many, many, many, many, many, instances of cheating contractors, misogyny, racism, xenophobia, hatred, and oh yeah, HIS MANY FASCIST TENDENCIES! He has literal Neo-Nazis and the KKK supporting him. If that doesn’t tell you that maybe you shouldn’t be supporting him. I don’t know about you, but if I’m on the same side of the KKK, I would take a good long look at why that may be the case.

And I hear you over there my Christian Libertarians “I’m voting for Gary Johnson! I’m absolved of any of this!” Sit down. The Libertarian Party’s plans are horrible for the least of us. If that phrase sounds familiar it’s because it’s a paraphrase of Matthew 25:39 (ESV) “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” The idea that the Libertarian Party’s platform is better than the current GOP platform is laughable. The only good thing about their platform is that they care about civil rights. Their economic policies and ideas about government are horrible for the country and horrible for people that aren’t rich white guys.

So right now Evangelical Christianity has to come to a conclusion. Do they continue on this path and eventually, in my opinion, lead themselves into irrelevancy and eventual oblivion? Or do they repudiate the Fascist candidate their party nominated and hope that they can try to regain any respect they may have had from the public at large. Because at this point the way that they are going, we’re looking at an increasingly irrelevant church that doesn’t attract new converts.