Today I offer two potentially incompatible quotes:
A lot of people are singing about how screwed up the world is, and I don’t think that everybody wants to hear about that all the time. — Mariah Carey
Country music is three chords and the truth. — Harlan Howard
If pushed to choose between country music and anything by Mariah, I’ll pick country, even when it does have only three chords. But that’s another story.
To me, these quotations imply a question: arts as refuge or arts as an expression of the world? Ideally it can, and should, be both. Any artform, whether expressing pain or passion, should touch the soul and transport the viewer/listener to a world beyond his or her own immediate realm. Such transportation is, to me, a refuge. Not to say that all works of art succeed, but those with a capital A do, and all others should strive to do so. If they do not make the attempt, then perhaps they are not artistic endeavors, but commercial ones.
The question of artists speaking out raises another issue, one about which I have ambilvalent feelings. Should artists use the stage as their soapbox? Certainly my bravo for Mr. Pinter’s remarks might lead you to think I’m in favor, but I’m not always so appreciative when I attend a concert and the musicians make lengthy political speeches. Why? Because I came (and paid) to hear the music and see the show. I want the art to speak to me, not the artist. Having saids that, I am not adverse to performers making brief comments as they introduce their works or tell an occassional joke, even if that comment is ‘political’ in nature. After all, they are leaders of a sort for their fans and it is fitting that they use their influence. Personally, I’d prefer they find means to do so off-stage, through interviews and/or participation in public events. Mr. Pinter was asked to make a speech and so he did; that was appropriate. When artists make speeches during a show, particularly the presentation of a non-verbal art, it should be short, and relevant to the performance.
This is just a my personal opinion. What do you think?