Idle rambling about women, pop art and feminism. And some idle observations about Dua Lipa.
The issue of how to deal with Donald Trump as president is a tough one for art. Art is usually the thing that autocrats first attack and Trump has set the tone of his era such that even Shakespeare is under attack. I don’t know what we’re going to do about it. I do my little part through writing song lyrics and struggling with a novel, but not much — at least right now — is happening either.
I am struggling to write a novel that addresses, head on, this new era of Trumplandia that we live in. It’s kind of a scifi satire, of sorts, and I just when I think I’ve figured out how I’m going to write is, Trump does something so batshit insane that I realize it’s much more difficult than expect to do anything with all of this.
I guess the reason why I’m having trouble grappling with Trumplandia is it seems ever-changing, ever shifting in is exact nature. There’s no set ideology and so it’s difficult to figure out how to satirize it. it’s difficult to take it to its logical extreme when you don’t know what it is in the first place.
But this brings up the broader issue of how art can and should address Trump. As I have written several times before, it seems as though the art world is so busy raging against Trumplandia that it isn’t actually producing much art that helps us process it.
What’s worse, when art does do things to help us process this weird, tragic, bizarre era we are in — like, for instance Shakespeare In The Park — the Right loses its shit. The Right is so absolutely hell bent on establishing an autocracy in the United States, they are so humorless and mean spirited, that nothing less than absolute devotion to the Dear Leader, Donald J. Trump, in all aspects of society can be tolerated.
It’s all very sad.
It’s also kind of unnerving. Art is something that despots of all stripes want to control or destroy and the fact that Donald Trump now that he’s in power can’t handle it is disturbing to say the least. That quality is another aspect of all of this that makes it so difficult to get a grasp on.
As I understand it, before Trump went nuts later in life, he was something of a patron of the arts in the New York City area. Weird. Just too weird. Don’t understand what happened. Something happened to Trump over the last 20 years that is inexplicable. He turned from a self-aware celebrity to a ranting, conspiracy theory loving unhinged madman.
Really, I guess I’m trying to do my part with my novel. I’m trying to channel what artistic ability I may have into something productive art-wise. As I have mentioned before, the big dogs seem rather quiet about Trumplandia. Though I am heartened by the notion that there are here and there a few signs that Hollywood and Broadway are beginning to do the art that we need right now.
I still think Hollywood should do something with The Mule part of The Foundation Saga. That is really weirdly timely in this era of Trumplandia. And, as I have mentioned before elsewhere, there are any number of different other works of art that could be used to address Trump. It’s just a matter of someone doing it.
It will be interesting to see when the protest songs will begin to pop up. Though there have been a few “woke” pop songs produced since Trump came to office, none of the has gone full protest. I think it’s going to be one of those things that we may have to wait until Trump — God forbid — wins re-election and everyone is weary of Trumplandia before we’ll get any real protest art.
Anyway, like I said, I’m doing my part. It’s a struggle, but I’m at least trying. In some ways, it’s a lot of fun working on a novel that deals so directly with the zany nature of Trumplandia. We’ll see what happens, I guess.
I have addressed this before, but the fact that people are getting all bent out of shape over a modernized version of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar makes me reflect on it yet again. To me, art is supposed to be not only provocative but a reflection of its times.
So, it seems in the specific instance of Shakespeare in The Park, we should judge the play on its artistic merits more than how inflammatory it is because of how it portrays Caesar. It is also quite ironic that while the Right accused people like me of “snowflakes” who need “safespaces” so we’re not “triggered,” they, in fact, are the ones who seem so easily upset when it comes to thought provoking art.
But that is becoming a cliche, given how often people like me are forced to make mention of it. So, for me, it’s more an issue of the play is supposed to not be all that good as opposed to how horrible it is that Caesar is portrayed as a Trump like character.
Anyway, what this means to me in the long run is in the culture wars, in this slow moving political Cold Civil War that we’re experiencing, the greater entertainment business has a responsibility to produce quality, through provoking art that helps us process this event.
As I keep saying, I continue to suggest that someone, somewhere use “The Mule” portion of The Foundation Saga to explain Trumplandia. But given that not only do I not have the rights to is, but I’m not a good enough writer to do it, anyway, that is just going to have to stay something of a daydream.
I continue to be puzzled by how quiet Hollywood is on the subject of Trump. It takes time for scripted material to get developed and produced, so maybe that’s the delay, not any kind of “shock and awe.” It will be interesting to see if a year from now there are lots of TV show and movies like the Shakespeare in The Park production or not.
Only time will tell, I suppose.