The Orange Overlord Annihilates American Culture
“The man that hath no music in himself, Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils; The motions of his spirit are dull as night, And his affections dark as Erebus: Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.”
(William Shakespeare. The Merchant of Venice, act 2 scene 6)
On January 19th, 2017, the day before the final nail was driven into the coffin of the otherwise admirable political experiment that was begun in Philadelphia in July, 1776, Donald Trump announced his plan to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities. He also plans to privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Trump’s vision for the United States of America is where art, literature, music, science, and philosophical discourse are deemed worthless. To Trump’s mentality, these things have no value as he understand the idea of value. To his followers, they are threats to their “GO USA!” “treat-politics-as-a-football-game-or-WWF-match” to be destroyed.
During his campaign, Trump never answered a question with a hint of intelligence. He’s appointed a secretary of education who wants to destroy public schools, who doesn’t understand the nature of the position of Secretary of Education, and, to add insult to injury, owns a collection agency that collects student debt. This is a man who never reads books, and separates all books into two categories: those with and those without his face on the cover.
This is a man who encouraged his followers to commit acts of violence against people who disagree with him. This is a man who lacks anything resembling class, taste, good manner, tact, and diplomacy. This is a man reputedly worth billions; yet his suits don’t fit him properly, and he uses the cheapest spray-on tan to turn his continence into the ridiculous image of a corpulent tangelo,
This is a man whose followers–who have told me to my face-despise “intellectuals” with a passion. In other words, his followers delight in ignorance and loutishness, possess substandard intellects by choice and consent, and vow to impose this upon others-with violence, if necessary.
One of the functions of the arts and humanities is to seek outer and inner truth. Trump cannot tolerate this. He must destroy any statement of truth, because he is the exact antithesis of truth. He devoted his life to setting himself in direct opposition of the truth. He adorns himself in lies about every aspect of his career, life, and every element of his being. He lies constantly; he says, and believes, that truth itself is a lie. He labels those who tell the truth as liars. He can’t distinguish truth from lies; it’s all interchangeable to him. In fact, his inauguration speech left me wondering how the steps of the nation’s capital building didn’t collapse under the weight of all his bullshit.
Truth, beauty, integrity, nobility, and the fearless search for progress and knowledge have no place in Trump’s America.
And now, he is throwing the whole of the American artistic community under the bus in an effort to “Make America Great Again”. Trump represents the dark side of human nature: ugliness, ignorance, and fear. He wants to build a giant wall, an act contrary to the idea of art. (Which itself is an unreasonable project: it would do exactly nothing to stop illegal immigrants, cost $30 billion to build, and $350 million a year to staff and maintain. But these indisputable facts are irrelevant to the Trump mentality). He gained support by promising to ban Muslims from immigrating, an act that rejects an entire culture—and the very idea of culture itself. Trump is the embodiment of every debilitating and deplorable quality of the citizens of the United States. He is the ultimate culmination of every psycho-spiritual pestilence that has contaminated our nation. It’s all concentrated into this one man; and starting today, he will hold our nation’s highest office. His ultimate goal is not to “make America great again.” His passion is to make America into the image of his own ego, his inner vacuous dead soul.
Say goodbye to grants for the arts. Bid your farewells to symphonies, ballet, theater, experimental music, and independent film. Forget about new emerging art forms and performances. None of this has a place in Trump’s America. Your films will be mindless comedies or action packed blockbusters. Your books will be mere decorations to impress people you don’t like with accomplishments you never made. Your dance performances will be strippers. Your music will be themes to TV reality and game shows, formulaic mass produced hits, and idiotic rock / pop songs. (Of course rap doesn’t fit into this. You will have noticed that he could have had Kanye West perform at the inauguration. But he didn’t. Trump felt West was “not American enough.” His innate racism is so deeply ingrained that he turned down the only A-List performer he could have had–this after every single A-List performer he asked turned him down cold.)
We, as musicians and artists, are faced with two choices.
The first is to oppose these moves Trump and his team are making. Our fight against him must be relentless and merciless; limited only by that which is legal, constitutional, and moral.
The second is to go underground. Go off the grid and produce our art–and build our audiences and economic power–until it bursts through the empty and meaningless horror of Trump’s “vision,” and its light illuminates the darkness that is overshadowing us.
We are at a crossroads: our survival as artists and the survival of art itself are at stake. More than ever, we’re on our own, and have only each other.