All art is political. To make art is to remake the world, either as you envision the world to be, as you wish it to be, or as you wish it not to be — so making art is always a political act. The artist’s political statement may not be intentional or even conscious, but nonetheless, by making art, he or she is initiating a political conversation. And by interacting with and interpreting the art, the viewer is adding to the political conversation. That’s why the discourse over culture — between artist and viewer, between artist and critic and viewer, or among artists or critics or viewers — is so important to me.
How we talk to each other about culture — which ususally means, how we talk to each other about popular culture — is how we talk to each other about the world we live in, or the world we would like to live in. At this time of hyperpartisanship, we have few other ways of talking about such matters in a way that gives us all common ground. We can barely speak to each other directly about issues of criminal justice or torture or authoritarianism, but we can all talk about The Dark Knight, thereby addressing these issues without throttling each other.
This blog will explore the intersection of politics and popular culture. This crossroads has always fascinated me, but it also seems to be of interest to many at a moment when conservatives gripe about positive portrayal of Barack Obama in a Spider-Man comic book, or when Tina Fey’s lampooning of Sarah Palin may have helped decide the election. I’ll be writing about what our popular culture is really saying about us (however unwittingly), how partisans read (or misread) the culture and try to use it to their own ends, and how, in this age of niche politics and niche pop culture, we may yet find a measure of unity through the movies, TV shows, music, and books that speak to us of the world that is and the world that could be.