During a drive to Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas (where a resident told me you can’t actually see the horseshoe bend in the river without a helicopter) my traveling companion began to play an OK Go song.
That traveling companion is, of course, my iPhone.
As I began to sing along with “The Writing’s On The Wall” I suddenly found my brain rushing back to a political discussion I had last week and the impact that politics can and should have upon consumption of art.
In the waning days leading up to the inauguration of President Donald Trump, a group of Hollywood celebrities made yet another video condemning Trump, condemning conservatives, condemning basically half of America. Condemning everyone who didn’t line up in lock step behind their political wishes of having Hillary Clinton in office. They threw around completely invalid comparisons to Hitler, the SS, Nazis, etc. Basically, all the same level of smears that they screamed about if someone made that kind of inane comment about President Obama.
I found myself in a discussion of that video and the general consensus of the people to whom I was speaking is that these “rich, Hollywood liberal idiots” needed to just “shut the hell up.” Trump won, they lost, and they need to stop pitching a fit like a bunch of kindergarteners who discovered their favorite Barney DVD had been scratched by the teacher.
I’m sure you’ve heard those sentiments from social media yourself.
It’s not those comments that popped back into my head when I heard OK Go…it was a question that was raised in that discussion.
“How do you stop celebrities from doing things like that?”
The discussion eventually seemed to settle on the idea that people need to go out of their way to not consume the products of those celebrities to take away their platform. Don’t go to their movies, don’t buy their albums, stop watching their TV shows. Conservatives needed to not “boycott” the stars that are openly insulting them but just “use their freedom of choice” to consume art that comes from people who if they’re not conservative, at least don’t put out videos lecturing people on what they’re horrible human beings for voting for Donald Trump or supporting conservative views.
One of the validations for that thinking were the artists who told Ivanka Trump to take down art she had hanging by them from her home. Another was the “boycott” by many entertainers of the inauguration. If they thought millions of Americans who supported Donald Trump were not worthy of hearing their music, why should they be supported by the conservatives of the world?
Now, you might be thinking “OK, did OK Go refuse to play the inauguration?”
Well, at least, they weren’t invited and rejected it as far as I know.
However, I’m about 99.995% certain they would have rejected it.
The reason? For the inauguration the band put out a great cover of a great Morrissey song “Interesting Drug”…but made a video that slammed Trump. Now, it’s interesting the things in the song like talking about a young couple in debt weren’t really impacted yet by Trump since he was just inaugurated…and one could make a case about Obama’s policies hurting families…but I don’t want to get into the political weeds nit picking a music video.
But the video just reinforced what I know about OK Go…they’re rather liberal in their political views. The polar opposite from me in many ways.
It made me wonder what OK Go would think about this conservative, Christian man who thinks they’re misguided in their political views but really likes their music.
If they could do it, would OK Go bassist Tim Nordwind and his magnificent beard show up at my apartment and say “Since you didn’t vote for Hillary, don’t support liberal causes and therefore are part of what we see as an evil on the rise, I’m here to delete all our songs from your iTunes. Then destroy your computer. And shave your cat.”
If they knew they could continue to go through life without any issues by stating “we don’t want anyone with conservative views to buy our albums or MP3, any of our merchandise or buy tickets to our shows. We don’t want to associate with you just like those artists didn’t want to associate with Ivanka Trump” would they do it?
Honestly, I don’t know. I would think not because ultimately they’re a business as well as a band and my money helps fund videos in zero gravity as much as a liberal’s money funds it.
It was after I pondered the idea of Tim standing at my apartment door, likely holding some kind of custom weapon I’ve never seen (hey, watch their videos…they’re creative), it lead me to ask myself…”why do I consume the art of someone who clearly would love to see me and my views disappear?”
I realized beyond doing it because I like their music, I do it in a bizarre way to help connect with people. My little attempt to help bridge the divide so prevalent in society.
If I ran into lead singer Damian Kulash at a coffee house in Jonesboro, Arkansas, his music and my appreciation of it would give us a common ground where we could start to have a discussion. It would be a place that we could establish respect for each other as people. Perhaps allow us to talk about each other’s families. Other bands we both enjoy.
Then if things turned into politics, where we would be diametrically opposed on most points, we would at least see each other as people and not faceless arbiters of something with which we disagree.
Now, the odds of my ever meetings or talking with the guys in OK Go are about the same as my landing a dinner date with Alicia Witt. (Who, by the way, is an INCREDIBLE artist who is also very liberal in her views.)
While that may be an impossibility, I have met other people who are fans of OK Go and share their beliefs. And you know what?
We had reasoned, rational discussions even about the political issues where we couldn’t find common ground.
We had that common ground of music. If I wrote off OK Go because of their political views, I wouldn’t have that common ground and the opportunity for dialogue.
So I’ve decided that not consuming someone’s art solely because of their politics is not something I will choose to do. I’ll do it solely on whether I like their art or not. Which, I deeply believe, is the way art should be seen, listened and consumed.
Because somehow I just know those conversations will find places where we agree. Places that we can work together. Opportunities to benefit our community, our state, our country.
If the artist in question has a problem with that, I guess that’s something they will have to overcome.
But I’m still going to be doing a quick look in the bushes for a little bearded guy in glasses with a hatchet in the shape of a bass guitar just in case.