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Roger L. Simon

Reclaiming the Culture

December 6th, 2012 - 12:16 am

I’m talking in generalities, of course. Plenty of great conservative artists exist. But the number needs to be extended considerably in order even to come close to parity and level the artistic playing field to some small degree. Cultural institutions (movie studios, theatres, philanthropies etc.) must be built as well because you can do terrific things but, without the means of distributing them, they are the proverbial trees growing unseen in the wilderness.

Paramount in all this too — particularly for storytelling artists in fiction, theatre, film, and television – is that art must come before ideology. If it’s not pleasing, it’s worthless. The goal should be to make the reader or audience forget their biases and live the experience of the characters and their story. This is the method to “reach across the aisle” and actually make an impact, to change the atmosphere.

Liberals often think of themselves as “liberals” because they like the image and the connotations of the word itself. But their actual thinking and certainly their behavior are more conservative. Those people can be reached through art because their guard is down, especially if the artist is engaging in his or her presentation.

But hiding behind a plot and characters presents challenges of its own because we are all heavily branded in this society. Everyone knows who we are or can easily find out. It’s hard to sneak by. It will be interesting to see how David Mamet’s new work is received, now that he has “come out” as conservative. Will the audience dismiss what he has to say merely because of that? Undoubtedly some will.

Sheryl Longin and I face a similar challenge with our new play, The Party Line. The culture has reached the point where many of us have the deck stacked against us because of the new party line. But we must persevere and ignore this soft censorship. Whining, as I have noted, is useless. And we have also reached the point in our history when we must try and succeed in reclaiming the culture. If we don’t, we are in danger of losing everything else, if we haven’t already.

 

Also read: It’s the Culture, Stupid: Facing the Long Road Ahead.

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