Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Art in the service of Big Government and The One

From Big Hollywood, comes this story by Patrick Courrielche:
... Backed by the full weight of President Barack Obama’s call to service and the institutional weight of the NEA, the conference call was billed as an opportunity for those in the art community to inspire service in four key categories, and at the top of the list were “health care” and “energy and environment.” The service was to be attached to the President’s United We Serve campaign, a nationwide federal initiative to make service a way of life for all Americans.

It sounded, how should I phrase it…unusual, that the NEA would invite the art community to a meeting to discuss issues currently under vehement national debate. I decided to call in, and what I heard concerned me.

The people running the conference call and rallying the group to get active on these issues were Yosi Sergant, the Director of Communications for the National Endowment for the Arts; Buffy Wicks, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement; Nell Abernathy, Director of Outreach for United We Serve; Thomas Bates, Vice President of Civic Engagement for Rock the Vote; and Michael Skolnik, Political Director for Russell Simmons.

We were encouraged to bring the same sense of enthusiasm to these “focus areas” as we had brought to Obama’s presidential campaign, and we were encouraged to create art and art initiatives that brought awareness to these issues. Throughout the conversation, we were reminded of our ability as artists and art professionals to “shape the lives” of those around us. The now famous Obama “Hope” poster, created by artist Shepard Fairey and promoted by many of those on the phone call, and will.i.am’s “Yes We Can” song and music video were presented as shining examples of our group’s clear role in the election.

Obama has a strong arts agenda, we were told, and has been very supportive of both using and supporting the arts in creative ways to talk about the issues facing the country. We were “selected for a reason,” they told us. We had played a key role in the election and now Obama was putting out the call of service to help create change. We knew “how to make a stink,” and were encouraged to do so. [emphasis added]
And if you think that my fear regarding the arts becoming a tool of the state is still unfounded, I leave you with a few statements made by the NEA to the art community participants on the conference call. "This is just the beginning. This is the first telephone call of a brand new conversation. We are just now learning how to really bring this community together to speak with the government. What that looks like legally?... bare [sic] with us as we learn the language so that we can speak to each other safely...." [emphasis added, italics in original]

Is the hair on your arms standing up yet?

Read the whole thing here. I suppose given that the taxpayer-funded National Endowment for the Arts is, as the author points out, the largest funder of the arts (and thus, artists) in the nation, it was only a matter of time before the Prophet Obama and his disciples sought to harness their creative output for his unholy agenda.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, artists got their street cred by challenging the Establishment. Now, apparently, they get street cred by working to advance its agenda. Sigh.

Note that the Nazis also were great "art lovers" who used art as a weapon to advance their political agenda. Indeed, in 1935 Hitler said this in a Party Day speech:
We shall discover and encourage the artists who are able to impress upon the State of the German people the cultural stamp of the Germanic race ... in their origin and in the picture which they present they are the expressions of the soul and the ideals of the community.

Indeed, as this article notes,
... the role of the artists was to either portray the German world as peaceful, or as drawn into a struggle for survival to defend it. Thus, art was to become one more weapon in the Nazi regime's arsenal. Hitler was a master manipulator, and understood the value of propaganda and artistic fervor. He also understood how to control people by threatening their job, family and existence. Artists who did not fall in with the party ideal risked their life. The artists glorified the German citizens, soldiers, and Hitler's ideals. The painters used their art to depict Hitler as the healing element that would cure the country's ills. They also painted the common "Volk" (folk) in everyday settings. The art of this racially pure country was to overcome differences in class and mold all of the people into one ideal. When not painting pastoral scenes or glorifying the war, the artists would turn their paint brushes against the Jew, depicting him as inhuman and inferior. [emphasis added] ...

Sound familiar?

How long before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences adds Oscars for Best Actor and Actress in a propaganda film? Or best director? Who will be the next Leni Riefenstahl? Can another Triumph of the Will opus be far behind? Of course, some would say the current Oscars already reward such propaganda films, often under the rubric of "Best Documentary" -- An Inconvenient Truth, anyone?

Welcome to Amerika, and the Great Reich of Hope and Chains.

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