Is what you’re creating you, or is it just a reaction to something you dislike?
I love this from filmmaker Jon du Toit in an excellent piece called “How to Level Up in the Culture War.” Read the whole thing, but here’s the part I want to focus on:
Let me define what I mean by “anti-fare”. Anti-fare is any media produced as a direct response to other media that is perceived as a threat. For example, Hollywood has been producing (admittedly very entertaining) media for decades now that, collectively, represents a threat to the Western way of life, rotting it out from within. One must admire the brutal effectiveness of Hollywood.
As a rebel, the natural response is to create similar media but with a directly inverted message, as a form of protest. An obvious example would be the pro-Bush documentary FahrenHYPE 9/11 (starring David Frum), created in response to Michael Moore’s smash hit Fahrenheit 9/11.
Can you guess which one people remember today?
What anti-fare like this does is 1) appeal to a narrow segment of the population to the exclusion of all others 2) delude its creators into a false sense of accomplishment 3) reinforce the thing you’re responding to as superior and allowing it to set the tone of public discourse.
Anti-fare is counterproductive. Anti-fare is self-sabotage. Don’t get tricked into producing anti-fare.
I could not agree more. Anti-fare is bad persuasion and bad rhetoric. It’s the “Dems R real waycis!” of art. It’s knee-jerk whining and a clear signal that what your enemy is doing is getting under your skin.
Screw that. Make your own art instead. Reinforce the messages and values you want to see. Sometimes you harm your opponent the best by ignoring and dismissing them as irrelevant.
This presents a once-in-an-eon opportunity for Artists who value Truth and Beauty to get their art in front of audiences who are now bored with the entertainment monopoly’s output.
Real Artists don’t create anti-fare. This doesn’t mean that you can’t criticize anything or deconstruct sacred cows. It simply means not mimicking something that triggers you, making it more effective in the process.
The time is now, and the time has never been better. We’re seeing this in the humble spheres of sci-fi, fantasy, and comic books.
Make your own stuff and bypass the gatekeepers. Don’t give money to people who hate you, and don’t let them set the agenda. Find like-minded people in your field, connect, get better, and produce.
Mr. du Toit has written a manifesto for these times. And he ends with some of the best advice I’ve read in a long while:
Real Artists wrestle with their art, digging deep into their own experiences and imaginations, seeking fresh ways to communicate universal truths that appeal to large swaths of your fellow man, inspiring them to live better lives and ponder deep thoughts. Real Art is spiritual. This doesn’t mean that it has to be uplifting only. It can be frightening. It can be morose. It can be infuriating. Let it reflect the times in all its nuance.
In fact, read the Bible — the epitome of Art, the inspiration of countless celebrated masterworks spanning a wide variety of artistic disciplines — and you will find all these emotions within.
If all you seek is to change someone’s political opinion, you are a propagandist and you probably won’t appeal to anyone but your political base.
Instead, let’s look beyond winning the next election and start leveling up in the culture war. Let’s turn from rebels into pioneers.
Our children need us to.
We are alive in these times for a reason. Never lose hope and never give up. Things are dark, but not lost. Things will get tough, but not impossible. You will fail at some things and will have hard times, but you will get back up and succeed.
Let not your heart be troubled.