Should Authors, Actors, Artists etc, Keep Their Politics Out of Their Art?


It’s a disturbing trend. Everywhere you look, actors, authors, anyone with a degree of visibility, all seem to favor pushing their political views to their audience, over the content for which the viewer came. You cannot escape it. Actors are the most vocal, however recently, browsing through some books I was interested in reading, I picked up a copy of a bestselling author (name withheld) and considered purchasing it. When I flipped through to the back, to the acknowledgements, I could not help but see the authors commentary on the 2016 elections and how he would find a bunker were 2017 no better. It went on from there. I returned the book to the shelf.

When I see actors vocalize, often in rude and offensive ways, their discontent with the current president, I am bothered, not so much by their dislike, as I am their manner of ramming it in my face. It is not an issue of agreeing or disagreeing; but one of capturing and holding your audience hostage in order to feed your ego, or vent, neither of which should be done in that forum.

The Academy Awards used to strictly monitor acceptance speeches so as to keep the proceedings on topic. It was, after all, a forum for accepting an award, not thrusting political views to the audience, captive and unable to object. These days, media is a free-for-all, with everyone from news people to actors all venting in whatever way they choose, often with expletive rants and worse.

When I see a movie, spend money to buy tickets and food, I do not need to see anything but the film, an escape, entertainment. To do so would detract from my experience and, depending on the audience, offend at least half of them. That used to be considered etiquette and common sense. Not so much, anymore.

The same for concerts, art exhibits, book signings, and more.

Am I endorsing restricting the right to free speech? No. Those freedoms, however, do not include the right to impose upon me something that I was not specifically wanting.

Imagine going to the dentist and, as the drill is poised to tend your cavity, the dentist launches on a rant about a political leader he hates. How about during surgery? Would you allow your surgeon to take a moment while you are prepped for your operation to enforce his politics? Airline pilot? You see the point.

Here are a few facts. Whichever side you fall in this political atmosphere, you represent about half the country. Therefore, no matter what you do, you run the risk that half the income you may have received could well fall away. Just ask the NFL that has suffered a huge income drop over players taking the knee instead of standing for the anthem.  I would feel safe suggesting that most of the audience did not come (or watch) for a political stance to be thrust upon them. They wanted to watch a game. However, that logic appears not to have stopped anyone.

Johnny Carson
Photo: Wikimedia

Late night entertainers have chosen to exclude one half of their audience by insisting on endless political statements. Yes, it was supposed to be a comedy show, not a political show.

I am reminded that Johnny Carson, the King of Late Night Television, picked on everybody, never alienating anyone because he knew that right or wrong, his audience would diminish, along with the quality of his show.  He was, he said, an entertainer with everything to lose and little to gain by pushing his views to his audience.

Even news networks have taken to the fray. CNN makes it clear that they dislike the president, enough so that their news is skewed to their political statements rather than the news at large, often not reporting many items of interest. The world is a big place with lots of news, not just our political climate. As a result, CNN’s ratings have fallen below that of The Food Network.

America is a counry where open dialog was welcomed, diverse viewpoints encouraged, and discourse handled with civility and respect. Those days have gone. It has become a free-for-all, hostile, not always factual, imposing and without resolution. You cannot expect to eat at a restaurant if your politics is opposed to the owner. The baker may refuse you. What would happen when airlines start to turn you away? Hositals and doctors?

Sadly, this illness has infected the world of writers, artists, film and food, dividing us despite our protections under the Constitution.

Like you, I have my own opinions. You won’t find them on this Site. I feature authors with strong left and strong right leaning beliefs without questioning their motives, challenging their integrity, or generally being offensive. For one thing, the creation of the story and the life of the author are not the same thing. Even if I differ in my views from the author, I can still enjoy the story made by the same author.

I do not care about your political beliefs any more than I care about your sexual orientation, race, religion or financial position. That part of you is none of my business, nor my concern. Your stories, however, those should transcend all.

Some of my friends sit on the other side of the fence as far as politics and religion go. But a friend is a friend, not for their beliefs, but their actions, their humanity, their companionship, in the same way that no two of us perform the same task in the same way, even if we happen to agree on every topic.

Frankly, I am tired of having to endure the endless salvos. It’s time all sides pulled up their pants and checked ego at the door. And, please, Mr. Big Name Author whose book I passed on, don’t put me in a position to resent the intrusion. I’d really like to read your novel. You might be fine losing half your income, but what a waste of opportunity.

What do you think, reader? Feel free to sound off in the comments or email me directly if you prefer HERE.