Art has not shocked, provoked or otherwise challenged for years now. The belief that it does, should or could is almost endearingly quaint when one hears it voiced… If you doubt this, then try to think of a novel, play, film or piece of installation art which, for example, seriously criticises the doctrine of multiculturalism. With a tiny number of honourable and genuinely brave exceptions — Lloyd Newson’s DV8 dance troupe’s 2011 production of Can We Talk About This? being one — there is a deafening silence on what is one of the most urgent issues of our time. Similarly, the chances of the BBC commissioning a drama which explores the experiences of an ageing white couple in an area transformed by mass immigration — surely a subject with real dramatic potential — are virtually nil. And if such a project ever did see the light of transmission, the audience could be forgiven for predicting quite accurately all the conclusions that would inevitably be drawn.
On a whole host of issues — foreign aid, climate change, social inequality — the viewer, gallery-goer and novel-reader, far from being shocked, provoked or given even a slightly alternative perspective, generally know exactly what they are going to get. For our cultural establishment, there is a right and a wrong way of looking at such issues and as a result the arts, far from being “challenging” or “cutting edge,” have essentially become the providers of window dressing, a sort of visual aid unit, for the views and assumptions of the political and media class.
Johnathan Pearce on deserving this and that:
If a person is born with great intelligence and this enables him to create wealth, he might not “deserve” it, but neither do those lucky enough to be born in a world containing this person, so they do not deserve the fruits of that wealth, nor do they have the right to seize it on some spurious redistributionist, Rawlsian grounds.
A couple of weeks back, cancer patient Bill Elliot, in a defiant appearance on Fox News, discussed the cancellation of his insurance and what he intended to do about it. He’s now being audited. Insurance agent C Steven Tucker, who quaintly insists that the whimsies of the hyper-regulatory bureaucracy do not trump your legal rights, saw the interview and reached out to Mr Elliot to help him. And he’s now being audited. As the Instapundit likes to remind us, Barack Obama has “joked” publicly about siccing the IRS on his enemies. With all this coincidence about, we should be grateful the President is not (yet) doing prison-rape gags.
How many makes a pattern?
As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments.