Artists are the culture

Film, music & art are highly personal & aesthetic tastes. With that said, there are objective processes to all of them. It’s the objective material forces of imperialist capitalism that are acting on all artists, and what we get is a reflection of that in their work. The best artists understand imperialism from a Trotskyist perspective and can make great art that will have lasting influence. The creators of House of Cards (S1-5) are an example of great art. Those who can’t (won’t) understand the world as it really is are limited by that. That’s why most movies & television today is unwatchable.

The Velvet Underground (2021) documentary speaks about 1960’s music, art & culture. The VU, Andy Warhol, Captain Beefheart, the Stooges, Sun Ra, etc, were considered & labeled ‘subculture’ by the mainstream press & entertainment industry. But Jonas Mekas makes it clear in that film that these artists were (& still are) the culture. These are the visionaries who pushed things forward in an era of Beatles-style hippie idealism. Drummer Maureen Tucker speaks about how the VU despised naive hippies who thought they could change the world by wearing flowers in their hair & smiling at everyone. They were right.

And gay rights, that started with Andy Warhol & the VU– as Lou Reed was bisexual. David Bowie pushed through his sexuality in the 1970’s and by the end of the decade it was okay for Elton John to be gay, at least in Hollywood. These are the true artists who re-invent our culture. To carry that artistic torch, you have to be influenced by them.

Under capitalism, corporations eventually appropriate the culture (created by these mostly unattributed artists) for itself. It censors what it doesn’t like, and filters any progressive content into its propaganda through identity politics. It was female alternative-rockers & hip-hoppers in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s that established women as artistic & earning equals in music entertainment. When Madonna was attacked for “Justify my Love” and such, she became alternative-influenced and arguably made her best albums while the feminists mostly hated on her.

In sports, it was the 1999 USWNT that made ‘soccer moms’ a phenomenon that has stayed. They did it all with passion, as there was very little money. For years when the USWNT were WC champions (1991) and #1 in the world, no one knew or cared. It wasn’t any easier for race car driver Danica Patrick, who broke though by competing against men (and attracting sponsorship) for many seasons in Indycar & later NASCAR. The feminist crowd had nothing do with any of these iconic sporting moments & cultural advances, as they ignored Danica Patrick getting intentionally-wrecked weekly in NASCAR, yet they claim the be the infallible arbiters & guardians of all culture. That’s their big lie. The artists & athletes create the value, but only those who “play ball” are recognized & compensated. Corporate wins in all these cases.

By the 1990’s, the kids had gotten the message, largely through music & sports culture: men & women are equal, don’t be a gay bigot or racist Nazi skinhead, etc. Gay-themed shows started appearing on network TV making homosexuality mainstream because the kids had (largely) already accepted it, but that didn’t stop the networks from taking credit for this sudden phenomenon of gay awareness. That’s what they do.

Since then, it’s been about getting MORE rights for these elite gay, feminist & black groups, so they can be more equal than others in Orwellian doublespeak. Identity politics is about unequal rights for those making the demands. Equal rights isn’t good enough for them, and that’s the fundamental issue with all reactionaries & philistines.