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An Artist has no place in war… August 28, 2005

Posted by Matt Hurst in Uncategorized.
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(author’s note: If the following entry makes you upset, understand that I am upset as well. I’m glad it makes you upset, because it should. I am sick of the idleness, so use this as motivation to DO SOMETHING. If you believe I am wrong, call me on it. I invite challenges. I ask only that you challenge yourself when reading it.)
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In the event of a war, and artist has no place on the battlefield. They are meant to reflect their envioronment instead of being fully immersed in it. In the Christian experience, the split of heaven had such a war between those aligned with God and those alligned Lucifers army fought, except for the artists who didn’t pick sides. They were bannished from the kingdom of heaven along with Lucifer’s allies. Such is the example in a religion bent on imperical right and wrong.
Few things change (if you do not know what an allegory is, you just read one and it is false). Today artists are expected to be silent on matters of war. You see, only those who fight and experience war first hand have the right to comment on it; this is what we are meant to understand. Artists who oppose said war and choose not to participate in it are expected to waive their right to comment on it when they make this decision. If you saw something wrong happening in front of you, would you say something?
In the age of information, and in the MTV generation there are plently of people who are discouraged from participation in this debate. We are perhaps the least informed and therefore least engaged generation when it comes to matters of politics. Our parents generation grew up in the climate of the Vietnam war in front of Walter Cronkite and Edward R Murrow, who made large effort to tell the news from both sides of the poltical spectrum. It was a complete view of the story and created a discourse on politics based in logical reasoning. Of the few people in our generation coming of age in our own war (in Iraq) that are actually engaged in politics, we have rejected the news for bias (corporate in my opinion) and turn towards the internet, where our own prejudices can be confirmed and reinforced. You can only find answers that fit into your narrative of politics when you visit sites (including this one) that you can “Agree” with; there is no emperical truth to the matter when all is understood to be a matter of opinion.
There remains however the majority of this generation who is not involved politically in this war, even as our friends and family fight it for us. Instead of debating politics they debate the safe things, the cultural things to argue about. Instead of debating about how to lower our college tuition we argue about how “real” said band is or whether or not Lindsey Lohan should have become a blond (note: the undercurent being whether we need another blond-haired, blue-eyed aryan icon in the cultural war). It is a safe and acceptable argument being defined for us by US Weekly, Seventeen Magazine, Extra, VH1, and MTV. These people are blind to the Roman-esque circus being put on in front of them while being given their bread ration to appease them; the war against the barbarians on the edge of the empire frames the social stratification they experience, but we become dependant on the system when the oligarchy gives them the ignorance they need on the brink of starvation. Once we see a cultural significant band, let’s say Incubus, engage in political music we have already decided whether we appreciate the music based off our limited understanding on political prejudice. The few artists who might challenge their audiences are themselves put off by the supporting sonics behind commercial music, so they make music desinged for those like themselves; the result is more “bling-bling” and less “fight the power”. We are demanding escapism from poltics instead of trying to solve the problems.
The revolution will not be televised, but there won’t be one. Nothing is real unless it happens on televsion. It has made us impotent, and thus marginalized. We cannot act for fear of being alienated (by a culture that has already made us so). You can see the yearning for another way in this generation, but they will not act until they here another shot heard round the world. Even 9/11 couldn’t wake them up, so as a result they are still in the first of the five stages of mourning (anger) and went right back to experiencing their alienation and fear turned to anger through bands like Linkin Park. Even MTV stopped trying to report hard news sometime after the war in Iraq began. Your rebellion is sold for $18.99, anarchism can be bought at the mall, and broadcast for the masses (if only to sell more of it).
Our generation was sold out before it was born. Our parents imprinted us with brand loyalty in the break after Sesame Street, yet can’t figure out why children are so demanding today. They took their PR machine they built after their revolution failed, embraced “The man” to forment the Reagan revolution to became the selfish “Me Generation”. In serving themselves they did a disservice to us (and hence a disservice to themselves) by creating an environment of consumer culture. As we matured the walls of Berlin fell, we won the cold war, and so consumerism was just to be embraced because history (and poltics) had ended. The only thing left was to better ourselves, screw the others, and pimp my ride. There is nothing to be broadcast if it can’t be sold.
And so we are lost. We live in an environment that promotes ignorance and consumption while discouraging cultural and poltical advancement. We have been castrated by celebrity culture; the same way a dog leanrs to obey their owner we obey the oligarchy. An internet that was supposed to bring a democracy of opinion has brought the factioning of thinking minds. We wait for a revolution to start, but even if it does will we know when it happens, because we won’t see it on television? Sit down and stop complaining they tell us – we have given you these wonders for the privelidge of your silence and cooperation. Alienation can be corrected with Prozac and brand name jeans. Do something for yourself; you won’t be able to fight a revolution by yourself.

Our generation is doomed, but if we keep going this way the next will be just as fucked as we are now. “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” or the artist up front revealing the subterfuge – watch the circus in front of you because only they have the right to frame the debate.

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Comments»

1. eazymeat6969 - August 29, 2005

i think the most damning thing that could be done to art (and one found more frequently these days) is to make an artist apologize for their work.

times of war always produces the best art—typically, it’s maligned, malignant and ugly. it points out what we don’t want to hear and lays the blame squarely at our feet.

the role of the artist right now, i think, is not just to criticize those in charge, but to criticize themselves, and by extension us. we’re no better, after all, than the institutions who declare war.

i’m still waiting for the first wave to crest; there is so little art out there critical of anything. remember what picasso had to say about the spanish revolution, and take a look around today.

2. nilsinedeo - August 30, 2005

We are not doomed. When I, Andrea, rule the known universe, everything will be alright. Kinda like the Killers song.

3. skewgee - August 30, 2005

and i will rebel if the Killers still get to play music…
i can be such a musical fascist sometimes too. “If I could be king for only a day…”

4. nilsinedeo - August 30, 2005

What, so it’s either force the Killers to disband or have you rebel? That’s harsh. I would hate to squash you like a bug with my Serbian Militia. Our motto would be “we are small but vicious” and I could crush anything/everything because if Serbs had only one country to be rabid nationalists about, we could really get things done. 😉

I’d be such a dictator. *sigh*


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