Holy moley, look at all the comments from people! I'm so tickled. :)
Oniya, I imagine that you and I probably agree that artists should be free to comment in their art about anything that is close to their heart or any subject that matters to them. RT and most people in general probably would agree with that too, I would guess. I actually feel strongly about that; no subject should be taboo or off-limits for artists, because art should be about saying truthful things about reality -- any and all
parts of reality, not just the parts that one particular group of people or another likes to hear about.
My concern is with the way that a subject is presented in a given work of art. There are proper and improper ways to talk about subjects in art.
Many artists and non-artists will take issue with that opinion of mine; many who are far wiser than I and far more accomplished than I will disagree passionately with that opinion. But, well, they're wrong.
The proper way to talk about any subject in a piece of art is to simply say something true about the subject; the improper way is to push the audience to agree that the statement being made is true. If the art is any good and the audience pays attention, then the audience will figure out for themselves that something true has been expressed in the art. If the art is great
, then the audience will not only figure that something true about reality was said in the art, but the artful way it was expressed will move them and speak to them in a way that nothing but art can. This is what makes art great; it communicates something true about reality that can't be captured or expressed in any other way.
Those are not easy distinctions for artists to make, and many get it wrong, even unintentionally. Here is an illustration that might help explain.
There is a lot of rap music that talks about violence and sex. I'm okay with all of that, in theory.
I'm not okay with rap music or any other kind of music that tells its audience that violence is good or rape is good or sexism is good. The problem with that music is that it fails with the highest and most basic goal of any art, which is to say something true
about reality; it is not true but false
for anyone to claim that violence is good or rape is good or sexism is good; we know all those things are basically bad (except in certain unusual circumstances).
Now -- stick with me, this gets very tricky -- is it then okay to make music that tells people that violence is bad
or rape is bad or sexism is bad? Actually, I would say, hell no. That's a different
kind of mistake. The mistake there is not that the art is saying something untruthful, but that it's pushing the audience to agree with the perspective of the artist.
If the artist is going to say anything at all about violence or rape or sexism, his or her job is to say something truthful about those things without pushing the audience to agree that it's truthful.
Now, if the artist does his or her job well -- if the artist succeeds in saying something true about violence or rape or sexism -- then the audience will come away with a greater understanding of the subject of the art; the audience will learn something true about violence or rape or sexism, and that truth may or may not include
the truth that violence and rape and sexism are bad. It could be that the artist wants to say something about violence or rape or sexism that has nothing whatsoever to do with the moral dimensions of those subjects; goodness or badness may not enter into the artwork at all, and that's okay, because the artist should be free to talk about any subject.
Some people get upset over truthful depictions of violence or rape or sexism simply because they believe that none of those subjects should ever appear in art. My mom is like that, for example; she can't watch movies that include lots of violence or sex. Some of those movies -- the good ones -- could help her to understand truths about violence or sex or other parts of reality which she could not understand in any other way. Her well-intentioned but misguided prohibitions limit her in that way. It's her loss, in my opinion, but you know, she shouldn't lose sleep over it or anything. :)
Then there are people who get upset over truthful depictions of violence or rape or sexism because they believe that any depiction of those things in art must
include a didactic, moralizing message
about how bad
those things are. You won't find such didacticism or moralizing in most great works of art, but what you will find is a depiction of violence or rape or sexism that teaches you something true about those things that you didn't realize before and perhaps could not have realized without being exposed to that truth in a piece of art.
Mmm. These subjects are so abstract that they're hard to talk about. Somebody let me know if any of that made any sense at all. :) If not, well, I'm tired, that's my excuse! Or, if it didn't make sense, maybe someone else here can help explain better than I did, if you know what I was trying to say. Oh, and sorry for the length!