11 December 2006
Art, not for the sake of Artiste?
From Michael Jackson to Mel Gibson, Borat to Michael Richards, should you judge their creations because of the shortcomings in them?
Do you stop buying MJ’s CD’s because you believe he could be a child molester?
Do you stop watching Mel Gibson’s movies because he is anti-Semitic?
Do you stop laughing at Michael Richards jokes in Seinfeld because he thinks less of African-Americans?
Where does one draw the line? The immediate reaction is of NO. I love “Beat it”. Why would I not listen to it? Brave heart is one of my favourite movies. Why can’t I enjoy a creation of art for the sake of Art? Who am I to judge someone else? But the moment you think you are enabling someone by paying for their skill, who, then uses that money to do horrible things, where do you stand morally, ethically as a human being?
If Nike makes soccer balls employing kids in Pakistan, do you PAY for that merchandise? If a diamond has been bought in a conflict zone which has the blood of poor miners, do you not care and pay thousands for them? You cannot stop the whole world but you can always say NO from your end, within your circle of influence. Granted you may not know all the hands an item has exchanged before buying it, but once you know, it matters what you do with that information. There was an “extrapolated” ad a few years ago to tell us, if you buy gas, you are enabling the Sheiks, who enable the terrorists, so stop filling gas. NOW, that is extreme activism. I wouldn’t go to that extent. But you do have a choice.
Perhaps the bigger question is “Why relate related-things in unrelated activities?” Say, Sports and Politics. Should we allow India and Pakistan to play Cricket when our soldiers are fighting the very country in the border? It may not matter so much to me but if I had my brother in Army fighting in Kashmir, putting his life on the line for the country, while a bunch of civilians want to enjoy Sachin hitting Shoaib Akhtar for a six, it belittles and makes his sacrifice and the sacrifice of thousands of lives less meaningful.
Like everything else, if the insult is directed at me/my country, then you decide to take some action. If Mel Gibson had said, “Stupid...f***king Indians!”, I wouldn’t be caring to question whether I should be watching his movies or not. But when it he curses about some other race, if you don’t join them in their protest, how long would it take for him to move to the next? If you don’t punish the artiste by ignoring his art, especially artistes with influence, you could be next on their list!
Maybe it’s time to sacrifice our few moments of pleasure in arts for the greater good of generations to come!