Art For Hate's Sake...
Re: the recent exposition of so-called art known as the Axis of Evil, or the Axis of Sin, or somesuch nonsense. If you haven't heard about this exposition, I'll fill you in. Someone (I really couldn't care who) decided it would be a good idea to express his/her or his/her organization's political views in art. The art in question took the form of several portraits on postage stamps.
These portraits included: President Bush with a pistol held to his head, and an airliner crashing into a skyscraper, a cheery little piece intended to convey the idea that New Yorkers were really just begging to have 3,000 of their own incinerated, pulverized and atomized on 9/11/2001.
Conservatives, or merely the patriotic and straight-thinking are supposed to just sit here and accept such idiocy based on torturous definitions and interpretations of the First amendment, and the stigma attached to being a minion of the government censors. We have our sensibilities tormented on a daily basis by sick little people with twisted minds who will take advantage of the freedoms our society creates and defends for silly purposes.
What is art? I'm not qualified to say. Quite frankly I don't particularly care. I do know that art, while it can be an awesome symbolic expression of the human spirit and societies norms, is not something that merely shocks and offends, which seems to be the entire thrust behind most art these days -- it's supposed to make you think. Art like this does make me think: it makes me think that the people who created it are absolutely infantile. The audience that laps it up is perhaps infinitely more infantile, bordering on zygote-level awareness, if that is possible.
Of course, anyone who disagrees with me will have a ready store invective to hurl in my direction: Philistine, Cretin, Moron, Uncultured lout, Nazi, Fascist, American and of course the most stinging rebuke they can think of, Republican. People who find nothing wrong with advocating the murder of the President or of 3,000 of their fellow citizens, in fact, those who celebrate such things, of course would scream like school girls if the shoe was on the other foot.
If I was, for example, to create a postage-stamp like portrait that showed Ward Churchill being escorted to the gallows by pregnant women, surrounded by a cheering crowd, I'd be accused of being a vicious psychopath. If I created a portrait of Hilary Clinton being rendered limb-from-limb by rabid baboons, while Bill stood in the background having a hearty belly laugh, I'd be accused of being a hater or worse. If I posted a painting that mimicked the famous "Evolution of Man" that went from obviously campy homosexual to leather-wearing S&M aficionado and progressed all the way to scab-infested, emaciated gray AIDS victim corpse with festering pustules, I'd be a borderline lunatic homophobe. How about if I painted a saintly Terri Schiavo wielding the hammer of justice over the head of Teddy Kennedy, with a heavenly choir behind her and a winking Jeb Bush in the upper right hand corner? Why, they'd have my feeding tube removed by court order.
I guess your level of pain depends on what your sacred cows happen to be.
I object to the pictures because they do not reflect my point of view, for sure, but also because they are in extremely poor taste and so obviously designed to appeal to the mindless, the primal and the ridiculous that they inspire a sense of cynicism. You just KNOW by looking at them that these things were directed at the stupid. It's an insult to the intelligence of the average person. It's the shallow masquerading as the enlightened. It's almost because it's intended to be art that it automatically follows that it is art. If we can classify art by saying it's what I say it is today, then the hairball my neighbor's cat spent half the night coughing up should be in the Louvre this afternoon. Anything that nearly kills a cat before it's finally expelled is a thing of beauty in my eyes. The difference is that I'm expected to simply take it, while they get to claim the luxury of bruised sensibilities. Part of this is simply the media being sympathetic with the idiot -- after all, if it wasn't for stupid people there'd be no media. The other part of it is the way in which American freedoms operate: it might be wrong, it might be inane, it might be utterly lacking in any redeeming quality, but so long as it isn't strictly illegal, is not an immediate threat to life and limb, and you can stretch the definition of intellectual to cover it, it's okay. Larry Flynt makes money this way every day.
We used to have 'art for art's sake', but that's now become 'art for hate's sake', or even 'art for the sake of throwing a temper tantrum'. Which is what this is. The person or people who created these things is frustrated. He/she is frustrated that Mommy and Daddy were not sufficiently accommodating in getting them that pony. They're frustrated that their breast feeding was stopped too soon. They're extremely frustrated to learn that not only does the world not believe or think the same things that they do, but that their own insignificant voices get fainter everyday --- on all matters. The people who create such things are not true artists in the sense that a Michelangelo or a Picasso were artists. Their thrust is so obviously commercial and so assuredly produced for the lowbrow that to call it art is to elevate dirt way beyond it's station. It's a natural progression from the base to the baser to the sewer; piss in a jar, hang a crucifix in it, you have art. Paint a picture of the Virgin Mary and smear animal dung on it, it's art. Advocate a position that you cannot possibly support intellectually or morally in a childish manner, and somehow it's still art. There's a twisted, romantic notion of the revolutionary and misunderstood artist as genius which used to make great movies, but which doesn't produce successful artists in a society with rapidly changing mores and tastes.
Apparently, you have to be noticed as an asshole first in order to get noticed as an artist. You will be instantly forgotten as soon as the next biggest asshole comes along, and then the cycle repeats itself. It's no longer about art --- it's about being noticed. Hopefully to the tune of a lot of dollar signs before you overdose.
I'm guess I'm going stop positing for a bit because apparently you can't get enough attention blogging. Instead, I shall retreat to the bathroom, find a suitable picture of the third-world-communist-homosexual-dictator -cum-hero of the day (I'm thinking it's a toss up between Castro, Guevara or that fake Mexican-Indian poet, Rigoberta Picchu is it?), take a huge dump on it, and then paste a series of little pictures of Barney Frank and Richard Gere around it. I figure I'll either make a fortune on it or draw a lynch mob. Or perhaps just flies.