- The phrase ‚??politically correct‚?? immediately short-circuits any possibility of dialogue.
1a. Folded into the phrase ‚??politically correct‚?? is the assumption that the person who is being ‚??politically correct‚?? has no right to his or her feeling about a subject. This is a particularly dangerous assumption if one wants to value egalitarianism, multiculturalism or interculturalism … or just plain old humanism.
That Art is somehow beyond ethics and morals is a product of capitalism’s disassociation between use-value and exchange value. This disassociation makes it easy to attach either an innocence or a superiority to an art object. As artists, teachers, scholars and humans, it is our responsibility to understand that nothing is beyond ideology and that nothing is innocent‚??everything is created within a matrix of culture, there is no ‚??cultureless‚?? art‚??and to listen to those voices that have material, ethical, moral or emotional issues with any cultural artifact, whether that is the ‚??tomahawk chop‚?? of the Atlanta Braves or the depiction of the colonized native in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
If I were to say that Miles Davis is a misogynist, it would be easy to separate his music from this behavior. If I were to say that he hit his girlfriend repeatedly and bragged about it to his friends, it might be just a bit harder, but still very possible. At what point does one say ‚??no‚?? to an artist’s behavior and therefore his/her work? If beating up women and bragging about it isn’t enough what is? Rape? Murder? Does it make a difference if the artist is living and receiving monetary compensation or dead and therefore not profiting?
3a. The point here is that it is personal. Each of us must make that decision. I still listen to Miles Davis music. But I am doing so with an understanding of what that means and that if someone requested I not play Miles Davis music in his/her presence I would respect that moral stance. 3b. L. Frank Baum, the author of the Wizard of Oz books, called for the mass extermination of the Native American population because they were such savages that they would be better off dead.
At least according to Bharucha, Brook’s production of Mahabarata fails even Schechner’s rather utilitarian version of intercultural right or wrong, i.e. that of an equal material benefit. This is a problem. I still admire the film version on any number of levels, but who am I to shut down dialogue by labeling as ‚??politically correct‚?? the argument, made by some, that the production recapitulates colonialist behavior.
Art is not so fragile as to be destroyed by those who place the ethical and political ramifications on table.
In his book The Politics of Performance, Baz Kershaw points to a debate between the ‚??democratization of culture‚?? versus ‚??cultural democracy.‚?? The former is elitist, a matter of getting high culture out to ‚??the masses‚?? while the latter is focused on community empowerment, participatory and anti-elitist creations of art and has, by necessity and design, elements of the amateur. Without providing any answers and even possibly complicating the issues, it seems that these concepts might have some bearing on a discussion about intercultural theatre.
The phrase ‚??politically correct‚?? immediately bestows a sense of moral superiority upon the speaker. If someone were to try to raise awareness of Miles Davis’s abuse of women, that is not being politically correct, it is merely trying to raise awareness and complicate our understanding. If someone were to try to ban all Miles Davis albums because of his abuse of women, that is NOT being politically correct but a waste of time and effort. If someone with power was able to ban all Miles Davis albums that would not be politically correct, instead it would be fascist or totalitarian.
The phrase ‚??politically correct‚?? kills dialogue. As a culture and as a world, we have far to0 many other assassins of communication. We as students, teachers, artists and (hopefully) persons of conscience, must work against the armies of silence and not for them.
On this day..
- Tweenbots and Turning Away - 2009