It's not like I don't know that those two things have been intertwined for like forever. People have used their art to express strongly held political beliefs for centuries. Picasso's Guernica comes to mind right off the top of my head.
I'm thinking about another intersection of art and politics these days. There is a movement advocating that people boycott the movie Ender's Game due out this fall. Orson Scott Card, the author of the book that the movie is based on, has been very vocal about his anti-gay and anti-marriage equality views. The LGBT community doesn't want to support Card and are calling for a boycott of the film.
I happen to be pro-gay rights and pro-marriage equality. I find the things Card has said publicly about these issues to be hideous stomach-turning hate speech. I'm not sure boycotting this movie is the right way to make those feelings clear, though.
The movie does not espouse any anti-gay ideas. At least, no one I've heard is arguing that. The film company making the movie is known to be friendly to the LGBT community. Card supposedly got paid up front for the rights so he's already been paid. Boycotting the movie won't stop the money from it from flowing into Card's pockets.
Near as I can tell, no one is advocating that people boycott Card's actual book.
Now I've opted not to see certain movies because of how I feel about the people involved in making the film. I won't see Woody Allen movies and I won't see Roman Polanski movies. I don't care how talented they are. I think they're both pedophiles and I don't want any of my money in their pockets. Knowing what actors are like in their personal lives does color how I view them on screen. Russell Crowe makes me want to snarl. I generally avoid his movies.
Something about this boycott feels wrong to me, though. Not only are they not punishing the right people, in my opinion, I worry about movements to boycott an artist's work based on that artist's political leanings.
I have a lot of dearly held political beliefs. I was raised in a very liberal Democratic home and I have not strayed from that path. I voted for Obama and think George W. Bush might possibly be the worst president in United States history and pretty much broke this country in ways that will take decades to fix. I don't spend a lot of time ranting about it, but I'm not shy about my views either.
I'm pretty sure there's a whole lot of people who disagree with me (hence the reelection of George W. Bush in 2004). I would still like them to buy my books. I'm sure my world view informs those books in some ways, but I don't intentionally put politics in them (except maybe the one that's coming out next year, but that's another story). I don't think Republicans should boycott my books because I'm a Democrat so it makes me nervous when we boycott Card because he's a homophobic idiot.
Although Card didn't just mention those beliefs. He served on the board of the National Organization on Marriage which was instrumental in getting Proposition 8 passed in California, banning gay marriage. If someone makes a point of getting involved politically is it then okay to boycott his work based on his beliefs? I helped raise money for John Kerry and Barack Obama. Is that enough to make conservatives boycott my work? Where's the line when privately held beliefs become public fodder?
I don't have a conclusion to this issue. I wish I did. All I see are murky gray areas and I can't quite figure out how I feel except confused and unsettled.
Anyone want to set me straight?