Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Function of Art, Conservative Edition

World O' Crap's s.z. writes in Tears of a Hack
United States Representative Thaddeus G. McCotter is gunning for the job [of "Conservative Whiner of the Week"], and being a total Hollywood outsider, he brings a certain fresh, loopy charm to the job. In his column "C-List" Casting Call: Will Hollywood Conservatives Come Out to Play?, he steals lines from a Beatles' song to hit on Mia Farrow's teenaged sister, and to invite Hollywood conservatives to drop some acid with him outside the Ashram. It's chock full of wingnutty goodness, but lets skip to his anguished lament for the plight of the tortured conservative, and his impassioned invitation to right wing Hollywood to join him on the cross.
Our camaraderie stems from our shared suffering as conservatives. Conservatism being the negation of ideology, our existence threatens the Left's dogmatic ideologues, who revile, repress and retaliate against us: Congressional Republicans are targeted for political extinction; and Big Hollywood's cloistered conservatives are targeted for professional ostracism.
All that is missing [interjects s.z.] is the Gulag and/or concentration camp reference!

Finally[Congressman McCotter continues], conservatives share a duty to channel empathy into creativity. For example, legislators must create just laws that reconcile the people's need for order and freedom; and artists must create works that reveal the enduring human truths needed to preserve and renew the culture.
Another perfect example of the conservative approach to art. Not only it "MUST" it "reveal enduring human truths," a commandment with which I would be hesitant to agree if only because it IS a commandment, but he baldly states that the purpose of these required revelations is not, as I might think, to express a component of human experience, but "to preserve and renew the culture." Hello, Peggy? Is that you?

First of all, which is it? Is art supposed to "preserve" a culture or "renew" it? Since a conservative's agenda is, by definition, the maintenance of the status quo, I submit that what Rep. McCotter really wants is the "preservation" part, and only adds the "renewal" part because he knows that "preservation," all on its naked lonesome, would give the game away too much.

Even so, if he believed he was being serious about the renewal part, what he'd think of as "renewing" a culture would be an effort to re-institute any part of that culture that was being challenged at any given time. Given that one of the most important functions of art IS to challenge the prevailing culture, I think he's not really talking about art at all. As smarter people than me have pointed out many times before, Rep. McCotter isn't calling for art, he's calling for propaganda.

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