12.19.2014

An Open Letter to Artists

Because apparently the world has officially lost all perspective, I've updated this in light of the horrific tragedy at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris, where twelve people were shot to death for daring to mock Islam.

Dear Artists of the World,

Remember to play it safe. It's your responsibility. You're risking people's lives challenging the status quo and medieval dogmas and forcing people to think about their obstinate belief systems. How selfish are you?

Your medium should never be used to offend anybody or upset any particular apple cart. Mocking someone in our brave new world is dangerous, after all. They could hack your computer systems or call in a terrorist threat if you don't suppress yourself. They could firebomb your office or walk in with automatic weapons and shoot twelve of you to death. You don't want that, do you?

And if people get hurt because you didn't do what they said, why, it'll be YOUR fault for "going there" and "being crude and offensive" when you could have just as easily changed a name in your story, or better yet kept your mouth shut.

Besides, maybe you just need to make "better art." You know, the sort of thing 100% of people find tasteful and wonderful. Yeah, I wasn't aware such art existed in this world, but apparently there is, because this one person on the internet said all you have to do is make art their way, and everyone will be happy. I don't know where they get their info, but I'm ready to believe them, because for a few minutes with this whole situation with THE INTERVIEW I got a little uncomfortable, and I just hate that feeling. And if you want to make sure the Jihadists of the world don't have any power to hurt us, the best thing you can do is acquiesce to their demands that you NEVER MOCK THEM EVER.

Because that slope is not at all slippery.

As for the people who might enjoy your iconoclastic wares, who gives a shit? They're part of the problem too, those tasteless cads.

We certainly couldn't blame the actual attackers for the atrocities they chose to commit because they're a bunch of humorless cowards, just like we certainly couldn't blame a rapist for raping when they saw a nice young girl wearing a short skirt. She should have worn pants and a turtleneck if she didn't want to get raped, just like you should go ahead and put tape over your mouth and write about majestic horses if you don't want to be gunned down in a merciless bloodbath. Why is that so hard for you to understand?

This world will only function if we keep our mouths shut and do nothing that might anger the crazy people. If you had a joke about North Korea or Mohammed on your lips, you best fucking zip it.

See? Doesn't that make everyone happy? Just conform, for fuck's sake. Be proper! We have a civilization to run here.

Besides, what do you really sacrifice if you cow to the demands of the craven lunatics of the world? Oh sure, they might "win," but isn't your safety and well-being worth your pride and your freedom of expression and a healthy cultural discourse? Your whole world might be reduced to the color taupe, but you'll be taking air into your lungs and breathing it back out again, and if that it isn't the definition of living, I don't know what is.

Why stand up for those things when you could be going about your day to day lives, buying things you don't need, never feeling your pulse spike above sixty-eight, all while having the most vital and colorful parts of your brain shuttered off for good?

No one truly "needs" art or satire anyway. Especially the "shitty" kind that might make people squirm a little bit. No one likes to squirm. And how do I know certain art is shitty? Well, because I said it was, and the yardstick by which I judge something's cultural value is good enough for everyone else.

If you don't see it my way, you're clearly an idiot who deserves death.

Of course, next time, if the crazy people threaten something I actually like, I might change my mind on all this. Because the movies, books, paintings, cartoons, and other pieces of art I deem worthy of fighting for really ARE worthy.

In closing, artists, when you sit down to your canvases or computer screens today, ask yourself first: whom might this offend? And if someone dangerous pops up on that list, just close your mouth, shut your eyes, and let that person win.

Maybe that will empower them further and encourage them to extend their reach beyond silly comedy movies and political cartoons and into things like foreign policy, energy and financial stuff, or social engineering shit, but meh? Who cares? Having our lives controlled and threatened by proxy dictators and Islamic fanatics and anyone else who decides to get their panties in a twist over a meaningless bit of media is something I've always wanted to try on for size.

I think it looks something like this.

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