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Oh boy, it’s time to hate artists again!

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, January 20, 2009 2:32 EDT
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This piece is a WPA mural from my hometown of Alpine, TX. Just a non-subtle reminder that New Deal arts projects beautified even the most ignored rural areas of the country, the places that conservatives claim to care so much about. Clearly, there was no reason to put paintings in Alpine other than to hate America. You can see more of un-American art celebrating American life here.

Far be it for me to say, but I think a lot of wingnuts are mildly relieved that Obama is going to be President. The whole point of being a wingnut is nursing grievances, and it’s much harder to pull that off when your people are in power. But now that the evil liberal agenda with all their reading and weekend mornings spent naked in bed doing pleasurable things is back in power, it’s time to start screeching with resentment again. Roy Edroso caught the choads at Redstate getting all excited at the prospect of really resenting artists again for doing horrible things like eating and paying rent. Quoth the pathetic wingnut, at the prospect of increased arts funding under Obama:

Where is the outrage that a president dares imagine that HE should be telling artists what to do with his little “art czar”? Where is the “artistic integrity” of these purported artists who so often wish to claim they are free of coercion or control by government and should remain so? Why is it that they don’t seem to mind The One taking control of their world of art?

Ah, but that is just it, isn’t it? These so-called artists really HAVE no principles. They love them some Obama and that is all they need to turn around and paradoxically cast their general disdain of government out the proverbial window. Of course, wait until the next Republican gets in office and see them suddenly remember that they want their freedom from oppressive government, eh?

But, for now, the silence from the “art” community is deafening.

Yeah, I know. It’s pretty pointless quoting him. His excuse for bemoaning the prospect of artists getting money is thin indeed—obviously, government money is either tied to specific projects agreed to beforehand, or it’s handed out with the understanding that the government doesn’t get artistic control—and it’s just a thin cover for the real point of this post, which is to drum up hatred against artists for being part of the pointy-headed intellectual set that wants to infect America with decency and sense.

Artists really make perfect right wing villains, don’t they? In the popular imagination, artists are enviable people, even if they’re not well off. They have fashion sense and interesting friends, and they spend their time drinking coffee or wine and having meaningful conversations. They’re creatively fulfilled and presumable sexually fulfilled, because being an artist really gets you a lot of that kind of attention. They don’t just visit New York City or San Francisco; they live there. They don’t have to lean on cheap racism to make funny jokes, and their music collections are genuinely interesting. They engage the world on a deeper, more meaningful level. Even people who would sooner die than eat dinner sitting on the floor with lighting provided by a candle shoved in a wine bottle must have pangs of envy imagining the bohemian lifestyle after a day of work under fluorescent lights followed by a fast food dinner and entertainment provided by second rate sitcoms. The tension between squares and bohemians has been a popular theme for more than a century now, and shows no signs of dying. And it’s a tension that makes the sworn squares feel like, well, squares, and thus like dishing out the hate. Or, as Roy’s post shows, openly wishing starvation on artists as a sort of karmic justice. Sure, the guys at Red State may live lives devoid of meaning and largely devoid of joy, but you’re broke, so there.

Now, anyone who actually knows people in creative professions knows that it’s not quite the stereotype that I describe there, but let’s face it, there’s a sliver of truth to the idea that people pick the creative life (if they can get away with it), because the rewards outweigh the drawbacks. And that’s enough to stoke the resentments. It’s like it’s been the past couple of days with my email box. I’ve been getting a bunch of angry emails from some anti-choice nut trying to argue that you can be an anti-choice atheist. I don’t deny it, because an atheist can be a sexist, though in order to really do so, they have to forsake a commitment to rational thought. And furthermore that the atheist anti-choice population seems composed primarily of a bunch of bitter men with major issues regarding women, and a fucked up sense of entitlement. Having given him this, I told him that was that of my attention. He then sent a shit ton of emails to me that I didn’t read, except to point out that his relentless demands on my attention really proves my theory. On the surface, it seems that the issues are unrelated. But really, it all fits into the grand theory of wingnuttery, that its main appeal is that it gives people who are crippled with certain resentments an opportunity to lash out and punish people who are annoying because they’re more interesting, The racism, sexism, and homophobia are really a piece of this bigger picture. For the resentful hoards of angry white men, the idea that women, gays, or non-white people are seeing their opportunities increasing while they, the resentful white guys, are stuck in their boring lives/personalities just makes the whole thing all the more unfair.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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