These are a conglomerated paraphrases of two sentiments that are repeatedly coming up in my Twitter feed and my response to them:
1. Artists should not be political.
Being apolitical myself, I am not drawn to overtly political art (see what I did there?). BUT I don’t think that my personal tastes should dictate the artist. Saying that artists/art should not be political is the equivalent to saying that the artist cannot have convictions that may not agree with everyone.
Artists are people too. They live in the same world we do. They are not like the Marvel comics Watcher guy on the moon, observing human activity yet never getting involved. I’ve seen art like that. It is saccharine, fake, and will cause cancer in mice. A good artist gets dirty with life. She engages with the world and has thoughts, opinions, convictions. She is political.
(image from here)
I am not saying that all artists should make art that is overly concerned with politics/religion/etc. But our artists should (and the amazing ones do) access the deep issues and truths that they see. Because that is what good art does: it offers a different way of seeing the world. And amazing art offers such a paradigm that can challenge and cause our own to shift and change. It can expand what we even imagined possible. Often for the better. Sometimes not.
We, as patrons of art, can choose. Art is powerful, but we are not mindless puppets. We can reject an artist’s vision. But to reject an artist simply because he has strong beliefs that don’t align with yours is just stupid. Worse yet, to demand that all art be neutral so as to avoid conflict with your beliefs neuters (Ha! did it again) the power of the art. I may not agree with the politics/religion/etc. . . of an artist–and I may just plain not like her or her work–but I applaud the passion and conviction that went into such a piece.
Art is not friendly. It is a bit like Aslan: Not a tame lion. And those who work with that lion shouldn’t be told that all they can do is curl its mane and paint its claws.
I want artists with convictions. I want art to say something.
(image from here)
2. I read a quality children’s book in public and I am not embarrassed: I am daring and brave.
The genres that publishing companies put on books to make them easier to market are bullshit. If a book is quality, it doesn’t matter whether it is a children’s book, a comic book, a fantasy book, a science book, a memoir, a self-help book (though quality self-help might be an oxymoron), or any other category. A quality book is a quality book. You are not special for figuring it out. You are not amazing for reading it in public. People aren’t staring at you and judging you. Just shut up and read.
Though the act of reading an actual book is something to applaud.
So here is your gold star.