They have as much right to free speech as anyone else, and I have as much right to ignore them as anyone else. Can’t blame them for using their position to speak their mind. It’s what literally everybody does (including anyone who expresses their opinion on this matter here).
I only really care about an artist’s political views when it colors their work. And even then my reaction to their work depends on my own views. For example: Varg Vikernes. Kind of a human shitbag with some absolutely repugnant (when not downright lol-inducing) views. However I have no issue with his music because he’s pretty much completely left his politics out of his music. And with some artists who’s politics color their work i appreciate their work more because the politics largely align with my own (ex: Silver Mt Zion).
I really can’t imagine anyone enjoying the work of politically-charged artists when those politics are completely contrary to their own. I can’t picture someone liking that just as entertainment. But then Paul Ryan claims to like Rage Against the Machine (though I gotta wonder if he’s ever really paid attention to them beyond (air guitaring) “wha-nah-nah-nah-nahnanah! Cool guitar shit, dude!”).
I don’t know. It appears to be that backlash against artists’ expression of “political” views is based on a few assumptions: – That artists’ art is somehow supposed to be free from controversy. – That the apparent lack of “political” expression is somehow a neutral position. – That an artist does art stuff as a job, and art-stuff doesn’t include opinions about things that might touch on “political” stuff. – That an artist’s position on a particular issue is less valid because the person doesn’t happen to work in Washington, wear a suit, and meet with lobbyists for a living.
And the common response is to say, “Why do we give a sh*t what artists say anyway?”. That’s fine. You can ask the question, “Why do we give a sh*t what window cleaners say anyway?”. But for some reason it is less silly when the statement is about artists.
What people seem to object to has very little to do with the artist and the opinion expressed. Rather, it seems that an artist expressing him/herself will provide an opportunity for people who are opposed to the opinion to catch a glimpse at the absurd concept of celebrity and the functions of media. The offended public sees this and says, “What do we care…”. It’s not that their neighbor expressed a controversial opinion – it’s that some other individual expressed their controversial opinion and they are having a difficult time resolving why the artist has attention while their neighbor does not.
But we’ve given these artists the very microphone that we now resent. We demand a culture of celebrity only to feel humiliated and resentful when it reveals itself in these moments. Yet it’s always there – and that humiliation should be there with or without the political and controversial expression.
I don’t listen to lyrics. Never have. To me, vocals are an instrument. My favorite vocalists could be singing from Mein Kampf and I would have no idea. It’s about tone and the way the words rhythmically play over the rest of the music. But I can appreciate that there are those who understand that there are very few words that do not carry with it some position on nearly every “issue” facing us all. In other words, writing a song about partying – in the context of what is going on – is itself a political statement.
Anyway, artists are people. And people have opinions. If we demand our artists to keep their opinions to themselves, we are really asking them to be muzak. That’s fine. But keep in mind that we’re asking them to provide an additional service – one that once was done by a mother or father. Gently touching your head, telling you that everything is going to be fine, and singing you a lullaby is what my mother did when I was feeling anxious as a child. I’m not sure I want artists to serve this role for me now.
Art might be mere entertainment for the listener/observer, but to the artist it’s an, often intense, expression of their soul. That an artist’s personal politics might enter into their art should not surprise or outrage anyone.
@ibstubro I can understand why it might seem narcissistic, but it might seem quite the opposite to them. They’re in a world where everything is about self-promotion. Anyone with a conscience is eventually going to think “Not everything is about me. What can I do to help others now that I’ve been given so much?” So in that way, putting their face on a cause is a way of stepping out of the world of narcissism and self-promotion that so many celebrities live in day to day. Unless they’re only doing it to improve their reputation, of course. Then it’s just more cynical manipulation of the public. But that’s why our responsibility is to figure out whether the cause is a good one rather than just taking the celebrity’s word for it (sort of like what @Blondesjon said).
Most people with an artistic bent other than Ted Nugent, and maybe that says something about him are anti-violence, anti-war and anti-establishment so perhaps having a talent for the artistic gives you a more benevolent perception of mankind.
Then again, maybe it is being able to afford better and more expensive drugs.
It depends entirely upon whether they’re just rubber stamping someone else’s views and passing them off as their own just for the publicity or whether they are making (as Ibstubro noted) “an informed” decisionwith actions to back it
George Clooney has certainly done his homework and knows tons more about the realities of the situation in Darfur and similar places than I do so I’m inclined to take his word for it. Plus, he has logged in serious time there at risk to his own safety so I respect him for that.
Likewise, Sean Penn put in at least a year or more personally living in Haiti rebuilding homes for people after the earthquake. Even tho I don’t particularly like him personally, he could have just sat on his ass in Hollywood and sent over some money. But he actually got meaningfully involved so I have huge respect for him and whatever he has to say about the political situation there.
Just because someone makes their living as an actor, musician or artist of any sort doesn’t mean they abrogate their right to feel strongly about world or national situations and express those opinions.
But those who actually spend their time informing themselves about the issues rather than just spouting something off the cuff are the ones whose opinions I’ll take seriously.
It depends on the venue. An artist that incorporates their political view into their art is fine. Hell most of the music from the 60s and 70s had a political message.. And if they appear at a political rally or event I would expect a political message. What I don’t like is a theatrical event or concert where the jackass makes a speech. If I went to see a show I don’t like being captive while you present your politics. If you told me ahead of time I would have to listen to your politics, I likely would not have gone.
I agree with @Jaxk to a tee. They have a right to their opinion and art is a great avenue for political expression. If I like your art, I’ll probably be into your message. Just don’t preach to me in a captive situation.