Of course evangelicals can vote for Trump; they just shouldn’t

Donald TrumpEvangelical Christians face a quite a quandary this election season, because they’ve painted themselves into a narrow corner when it comes to politics. It’s the right-wing conservative way or no way, and that forces them into the camp of Donald Trump, a slick, self-promoter with questionable business and personal ethics. Mr. Trump also comes off as pretentious, racist, bigoted, and uninformed, and watching Evangelicals rationalize their support is frustrating, confusing, and sad. Were it not, it might actually be humorous.

Believe it or not, the biggest issue for these Christians is who will appoint perhaps as many as four Supreme Court justices over the next four years. That’s it. That’s issue number one for Evangelicals. This is what Christians are willing to roll the dice over in electing a man who admits he will stretch the truth to get what he wants. Read his book. He’s a salesman for whom it’s all about closing the deal, not about how you get there, and that disqualifies him for anything other than being one of the globalist corporate menaces that he accuses others of being. Anyone who believes anything that comes out of his mouth is dangerously misled, and that includes my Christian friends.

jackgrahamLast week, Mr. Trump met with certain hand-picked Evangelical Christian leaders (who were publicly referred to as “Christian Leaders,” a bad joke) where he selected a board of advisors and spoke to them about why he’s the only candidate on their side. In the wake of that meeting, evangelical pastor Jack Graham of the mega Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas published an article titled “Of course, Evangelicals can vote for Trump.” He gave three reasons why “I could easily vote for Mr. Trump this November without endorsing him, his behavior, his language or his “temperament,” adding, “I would vote for Donald Trump because he has convinced me he will fight for the issues that matter most to conservatives.”

He then lists these three issues: the Supreme Court, abortion, and religious liberty. Pastor Jack notes that Mr. Trump’s opponent “promises” she won’t support any of those, and so he’s willing to roll the dice on everything else required of the President of the United States, just because he’s got us covered on the Supreme Court.

If this is at all representative of other Evangelicals (it is), then the faith has gone completely mad. I got into a discussion about this with Christians yesterday on Facebook, and here’s a portion of it:

LL: And to me, SCOTUS is the ball game when you will have as many as 3-4 justices appointed that could affect and dictate policy for the next 50 years — and on much more than just abortion. I’ll pass on Hillary, whose intentions are clear, and go w Trump, whose stated intentions I can agree with…

Me: L, it would be more honest if you were to say “go w Trump, whose stated intentions I can agree with, no matter what.” I appreciate your candid position otherwise.

LL: Not sure I understand your first point, but thanks for the rest…

Me: That you’re fully prepared and content with whatever might happen with him as long as you get your Supreme Court justices.

LL: Let’s say I am willing to take my chances with Trump, and consider it a calculated risk. I am also about derailing globalism, and feel he is our best chance for that as well.

‘Lest you think I was speaking with a fool, this person is very intelligent and has done her homework. However, she believes Mr. Trump is a fine family man and would give her the Supreme Court justices she requires. Where did she do her research? I don’t know. Most of the conservative talking points come from the many loud fearmongers who filter everything through a sky-is-falling lens that distorts the reality of liberalism. But I digress.

Donald Trump’s very own life has proven him to be a tickler of the ears, and he admits as much in his book. Remember, he’s trying to sell us on the idea of himself as U.S. President:

The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular.

I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.

He is utterly untrustworthy, my dear Christian friends, and even if he’ll give you conservative justices, there’s no assurance they’ll be approved. Even if he’s pro-life, there’s no assurance that will mean anything in real life. And even if he is stating how much he supports Christianity (not religious freedom), there’s zero assurance he’ll ever be able to act upon it. Of course, I don’t believe he ever would anyway.

He just wants to close the deal, and we can’t let him.

The turd in terror’s punchbowl

TerrorismThe horrible terrorist act in Orlando a week ago brought out the predictable finger-pointing and then some. The concept of assigning blame has become so routine with the press in every event today that contemporary consumers of “news” must think it’s one of the five W’s of journalism. Oh I suppose an argument could be made that this is the “why” of news reporting, but it’s way beyond that. In a world dominated by process and planning, we are driven to “find out” every causal factor, because that’s the way we attack human nature. There are no accidents in life anymore, for example, because everything is cause and effect.

But life isn’t NASA, and the press certainly doesn’t function as engineers.

I’ve seen just about everything associated as causal with this Orlando night club mess. The poor AR-15 assault rifle is the problem. It’s the NRA. Homophobia. Homosexuality. President Obama, Mental illness. Slipping through the cracks in the FBI terror watch list. And my favorite – Islam – and this particular voice is getting louder and louder, led by the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. I’m also reading a lot of “Islam needs to reform” in order to put an end to “these radicals.” Somehow, we naively believe that “the problem” is a religion that has been so demonized by certain forms of Christianity that “it just has to be” the cause! You cannot possibly understand how foolish this assertion appears to Muslims, especially in the Middle East.

In the blaming of Islam, observers are ignoring the great turd in the punchbowl while complaining about the less-than-fruity taste of the liquid. Never – and I mean NEVER – does anyone in the practice of explaining events relating to terrorism ever mention the role of Israel. This American ally is conveniently shoved aside as irrelevant in even in-depth commentary about “why do they hate us.” “Islamic terrorism” may have Palestinian roots, but that’s as far as it goes. Folks, this is one of the great magic tricks of modern life, and it’s time we all stopped pretending that God Himself resurrected Israel, because Jesus is about to come back. This, of course, will automatically be labeled antisemitic, and I’m prepared for that. Having Palestinian family in Jordan doesn’t mean I’m antisemitic; it just means my window on the world is perhaps a little different than yours.

The Shirky Principle, named for NYU professor Clay Shirky, states that “institutions will always try and preserve the problem for which they are the solution.” Zionism was implemented in the Middle East by the United Nations – led by the U.S. – after World War II and the horror of the Holocaust. Israel is considered the solution to the problem of real or perceived antisemitism in the world, but the Shirky Principle reveals that buried beneath all the defensive rhetoric and political propaganda is a real need to keep the problem alive, ‘lest the reason for Israel cease to exist. You see, nobody consulted with the land owners in the region at the time – Arab Muslims for whom the area has profound spiritual meaning – if it would be alright to forcibly remove them. Israel claimed all the good lands and, most importantly, the water rights. Today, Israel functions as an apartheid state, continuing to claim territory that doesn’t belong to it and brutalizing the Palestinian Arabs in the process.

Israel is at the very center of the matter of blame for terror in the Middle East and beyond, and if we’re going to be serious in our attempts to find a solution to future Orlandos, we’re going to have to stop pretending otherwise. Why do they hate us? Because “we” drove the process of Zionism and continue to pour billions of dollars in aid into Israel year after year.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his condolences over the Orlando massacre in a video to Americans. A careful listen reveals lots of references to terror his country is familiar with – “radical Islamic terrorism.” It ends with this remarkable statement: “We need to stand united, resolute in the belief that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, regardless of their race, regardless of their ethnicity, all people deserve respect, deserve dignity.” Sounds great, but it’s a special form of hypocrisy, for it ignores his own government’s treatment of Palestinians.

There. If you want better tasting punch, we’re going to have to do a more thorough job of straining.

Donald Trump and unresolved conflict

trumptapperThe press gave a great deal of attention this past week to an interview Donald Trump gave to CNN political reporter Jake Tapper. The story wasn’t about what Mr. Trump said; it was about how a hero reporter persistently asked the same question until he finally got his answer. What a guy! The professional journalism community was excited, likely because it revealed one of their own demonstrating higher morality than that shown by the GOP candidate. One assumes from all the headlines, that journalists writing about this thought their readers and viewers would feel the same gotcha moment. It’s dangerously naive to think so, however, and this case provides further evidence that the press continues to assume its own relevance, especially when it drifts into matters of candidate character.

The CNN video of Jake Tapper “challenging” Mr. Trump is hilarious, not because it reveals the persistence of a heroic journalist pressing Mr. Trump, but in how much free media it has produced for Mr. Trump, who could care less that the presentation is designed to show him as a racist, a liar, and a distorter. Here’s a Washington Post headline on the matter: Jake Tapper asked Donald Trump if his judge attack was racist — then followed up 23 times. What is the purpose of this if not to tout the persistence of Jake Tapper, and, frankly, who cares?

The press cares, because it gives them more evidence of the “Donald Trump is unqualified and dangerous” theme that governs its horse race coverage of the 2016 campaign for president. It does absolutely nothing, however, in helping Americans be informed about the candidate and his appeal, because his followers determined long ago – before Mr. Trump ever announced – that the press operates with a liberal bias and therefore cannot be trusted. As I’ve been pointing out for nearly twenty years, the press has done this to itself.

Back to the CNN interview. While Mr. Tapper steadfastly stuck to his journalistic duty to get a response to his (most important) question, Mr. Trump simply used the airtime to pour forth his position on those matters of interest to his supporters. It was a free, five-minute commercial for Donald Trump in a very presidential setting. Good job, Jake. Here are a few campaign statements that went unchallenged, because Mr. Tapper was busy making journalists proud:

  • Hillary should be in jail for her email scandal.
  • I’m building a wall between here and Mexico.
  • I’ll do well with Hispanics, because I’m going to create jobs.
  • Hillary Clinton is a stiff.
  • I’m being treated unfairly.
  • Thousands and thousands have given Trump University great reviews.
  • This case should have been dismissed years ago.
  • The plaintiffs just want to get their money back.
  • The law firm suing me has committed huge amounts of money to Hillary’s campaign.

These are some of the things that Donald Trump was able to clearly communicate while Jake Tapper was busy being a hero to journalists. Again, who cares?

Donald Trump is winning, because he speaks of issues the press assumes have already been resolved, and that includes the matter of race. To Trump supporters, race is very much an unresolved issue, for political correctness is a liberal concept that’s been forced on conservatives. As Mr. Trump has noted many times, “We have to stop being so politically correct in this country,” so one assumes that a part of making America great again is the rolling back of political correctness, something the press wrongly believes is poppycock.

Which helps us understand why Donald Trump is such a surprise to them but not to a great many others. Here are five things I’ve heard about the candidate that resonate beautifully with his followers and lay the foundation for viability among a great many Americans. The reader can be the judge of the significance of each:

  1. The view that terrorism is Islamic; that the “real” danger from terrorism is the religion it represents. This is actually a defense of certain forms of Christianity, for both religions are evangelical and therefore at enmity with each other. By referencing the terrorism problem this way, therefore, his words fit a deeply held belief of many, that the problem is with the religion, not the violence, for in many ways, they are deemed one and the same.
  2. When he addresses the dying middle class as an aftereffect of foreign trade and manufacturing, he again states a deeply held (thought of as common sense) belief of many Americans. When Donald Trump discusses the disappearance of good jobs in this way, he speaks to the pain of those people and communities who’ve suffered loss, “proving” to his followers that he understands them. They also reason that a very successful businessman who speaks in this manner does so from a position of knowledge, because he simply must have information unavailable to the masses. After all, he’s a billionaire!
  3. To Mr. Trump’s followers, this billionaire business is all the proof they need that he’s smart. This is the lone qualification in their minds, for who’s to argue with his financial success? Attempts by the press or opponents to dismiss this – for whatever reason – fall away in light of Trump’s visible display of business-gained wealth. This is why so many of his followers honestly believe he is among the smartest people in the world. This cannot be overlooked.
  4. Donald Trump’s views on political correctness, in the agreeing minds of his followers, proves to them that he can’t be easily fooled by liberal language. This is a far greater social matter than anyone cares to admit, because the press crossed its bridge long ago, and to them, it’s a dead issue. The mere thought of offending our neighbors has become such a dark blight that speaking the “right” words has become a matter of duty in order to qualify for good citizenship. George Carlin called this “fascism pretending to be manners,” and the final verdict is a long way from having been written. The heart of Mr. Trump’s support comes from white males, who’ve been painted as the bad guys in the rise of PC practices, and nobody ever consulted them about the accusations. This is one of the most divisive matters before the electorate today – touching everything from race to religion to gender and beyond – and it won’t go away automatically, because anybody simply says so.
  5. His willingness to boldly take on the press proves to supporters that he knows journalists are all biased, even Fox. Every time the press reports on Mr. Trump’s shortcomings – rightly or wrongly – nobody really pays attention, because it’s just more of the same. This bias belief has produced record low numbers in terms of trust in the press in the U.S. and yet the press continues under the belief that it operates with the public trust. We wrote the book on this thirty years ago at CBN, and it continues as a major concern for our democracy.

So celebrate Jake Tapper’s “victory” if you wish, but if you’re not a fan of Donald Trump’s, you might want to rethink the rejoicing. A little humility might help you realize that you don’t know the people you’re covering quite as well as you think.

You are, unknowingly, a factor in his success.

Donald Trump and the melting pot

memorial-day-2016One of the most profound cultural changes in the United States during my lifetime is the ongoing shift in the governing metaphor from a melting pot to a multicultural tapestry. Immigrant populations are generally grouped by marketing demographic lingo or self-identify as hyphenated residents. White people are thought to be the only “group” that still identifies with the term “American.” In the tapestry metaphor, perhaps whites are a common thread that holds the others in place. Nevertheless, the cloth is constantly morphing in color and pattern, and perhaps that’s one of its beauties – a freshness that’s determined by its ever-evolving threads.

The Washington Post studied this in 1998, and I’ve kept one of those articles in my bookmarks for reference. Let’s just say that almost twenty years later, the prophecies contained here are coming to pass, including the reality of dual economies. This was a profoundly important newspaper series, and I wish they would repeat it, for it’s at the very heart of the Trump phenomenon that everyone is clamoring to understand.

”The Ozzies and Harriets of the 1990s are skipping the suburbs of the big cities and moving to more homogeneous, mostly white smaller towns and smaller cities and rural areas,” (University of Michigan demographer William) Frey said…

…Frey sees in this pattern “the emergence of separate Americas, one white and middle-aged, less urban and another intensely urban, young, multicultural and multiethnic. One America will care deeply about English as the official language and about preserving Social Security. The other will care about things like retaining affirmative action and bilingual education.”

…the persistance (sic) of ethnic enclaves and identification does not appear to be going away, and may not in a country that is now home to not a few distinct ethnic groups, but to dozens…

…For the affluent, which includes a disproportionate number of whites, the large labor pool provides them with a ready supply of gardeners, maids and nannies. For businesses in need of cheap manpower, the same is true. Yet there are fewer “transitional” jobs – the blue-collar work that helped Italian and Irish immigrants move up the economic ladder – to help newcomers or their children on their way to the jobs requiring advanced technical or professional skills that now dominate the upper tier of the economy…

…Though there are calls to revive efforts to encourage “Americanization” of the newcomers, many researchers now express doubt that the old assimilation model works…

…Many immigrant parents say that while they want their children to advance economically in their new country, they do not want them to become “too American.”

Donald Trump’s followers are clamoring for a return to the days when the melting pot was the governing metaphor. His campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” is a signal to anybody listening that the tapestry hasn’t worked, isn’t working, and won’t ever work. In this sense, Donald Trump is a very mainstream candidate for President, because this message resonates so clearly with those who long for a country that promised equality through assimilation. American media, however – who long ago crossed the bridge into multiculturalism – keep badly missing it in trying to figure out what drives Trump loyalists. While it may be correct that the vast majority of Trump supporters are white, this conclusion distorts reality by moving it into a racial discussion. The melting pot, to the press, is by now a deviant thought in today’s culture and therefore is not to be considered for coverage except within Daniel Hallin’s outermost sphere. This is the fault and problem of the press and not of concern whatsoever to Mr. Trump, who keeps speaking past their filters (something pioneered by Ronald Reagan) and directly to those who self-identify as “Americans.”

trumptacobowlTake the case of his tweeted picture on Cinco de Mayo. It featured Mr. Trump eating a taco bowl and proclaiming his love for Hispanic people due to their food. This was greeted as tasteless, crude, and racist from the press but is a perfectly logical proclamation from the “American” perspective, because the melting pot is viewed as better for having Mexican food added to it. This perspective is not necessarily dismissive, for the same could be said of foods from Italy, Ireland, or China. Assimilation is what’s on trial with Donald Trump. It seems ignorant to most, because we crossed the bridge to the tapestry metaphor long ago.

Let’s think about this on Memorial Day, because the flag with which we decorate the graves of brave men and women who gave their lives for our freedom is symbolic to plain “Americans” in a way that’s different than those who identify as a hyphenated minority. No single view has to be right or wrong here; just different, and that’s all right. For all the criticism the melting pot has received, we simply cannot ignore the history of its great strength, for those very soldiers we celebrate today sacrificed everything for it, and we could not have survived two world wars without it. It makes me wonder how well we’d do with such today.

Melting pot or tapestry, we’re still individual parts of a whole, and we need to move that to the front burner as our cultural civil war rages on. If Donald Trump forces us to consider it and talk about it, then the madness that is our presidential campaign in 2016 will have been worth it.

The 2016 Revenge Vote

fupolitics“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.”

Those were the words of Howard Beale, the longtime fictional anchor of the equally fictional Union Broadcasting System’s UBS Evening News. You’ll recognize Beale and the statement from the 1976 film Network, starring Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, and Robert Duvall. Dunaway’s UBS was suffering from poor ratings and Finch’s Howard Beale was the answer. Here’s what Wikipedia says about the plot:

…Beale…learns from the news division president, Max Schumacher (Holden), that he has just two more weeks on the air because of declining ratings. The two old friends get roaring drunk and lament the state of their industry. The following night, Beale announces on live television that he will commit suicide on next Tuesday’s broadcast. UBS fires him after this incident, but Schumacher intervenes so that Beale can have a dignified farewell. Beale promises he will apologize for his outburst, but once on the air, he launches back into a rant claiming that life is “bullshit”. Beale’s outburst causes the newscast’s ratings to spike, and much to Schumacher’s dismay, the upper echelons of UBS decide to exploit Beale’s antics rather than pull him off the air. In one impassioned diatribe, Beale galvanizes the nation, persuading his viewers to shout out of their windows “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

Here’s a small portion of that wonderful rant via YouTube:

This award-winning and culturally significant film exploits the ease with which television can influence the lives of people who don’t like how “things” have turned out for them regarding economics, morality, crime, or anything else. Howard Beale’s suggestion that raging out the window is necessary to let “them” know how real people feel may seem cathartic, but psychologists say such behavior usually results in the opposite. Unresolved anger, whether personal or collective, demands attention, or it will literally destroy the one who carries it. In AA, for example, we call this “whacking ourselves with the two-by-four we intend for others.”

The most destructive of these actions is revenge, and while it may seem self-satisfying — and Hollywood continually tells us that it is — it’s actually quite self-destructive.

“Rather than providing closure,” says Kevin Carlsmith, PhD, a social psychologist at Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y. who published a study on the subject in 2008, “it does the opposite: It keeps the wound open and fresh.” Evolution, Carlsmith adds, may play a role. “Punishing others in this context—what they call ‘altruistic punishment’—is a way to keep societies working smoothly,” he says. “You’re willing to sacrifice your well-being in order to punish someone who misbehaved.” And to get people to punish altruistically, Carlsmith says, they have to be fooled into it. Hence, evolution might have wired our minds to think that revenge will make us feel good.

It doesn’t.

I’m convinced that altruistic punishment is at the core of much of the support for both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential campaign. Both shout from beyond the status quo that we ought to be mad as hell and not willing to take it anymore, and so — with little regard for the consequences except the notion that revenge will make them feel better — people are voting for both in the primary season. The voters simply don’t care about the actual positions of both of these candidates; they simply “know” that neither is a part of a status quo that has wronged them so badly. Supporters hear their own words spoken back to them, so there’s really no reason to probe beyond those words. It’s the film Network being played out in real life.

This is probably much truer as regards Mr. Trump than it is regarding Mr. Sanders, but I think both have tapped the deep wellspring of anger and rage at what seems to them to be a system spinning out of control in this country. The people supporting the presumptive Republican nominee are tired of the tyranny of the minority, including immigrants of all stripes and those with differing views of sex and nature. They feel they’ve lost what they used to have — and to forces that don’t care what they think and that are ramrodding laws that flaunt recklessness in their faces. They want back the control they seem to have lost, and they think Mr. Trump is the candidate who speaks for them, regardless of what he can actually do about it. Mr. Sanders, on the other hand, draws those who feel the government hasn’t gone far enough in speaking to their anger over what they view as the failings of capitalism, especially as it relates to the poor and the afflicted, which includes many of them. They think the government is listening to too much that comes from the right, including those Trump followers who believe the opposite. Both groups want revenge to right wrongs they feel were foisted upon them by powerful outside interests.

It would be encouraging to think that these groups cancel each other out, but that would be naive. It may seem that this unresolved anger will benefit Ms. Clinton in the election, but there’s plenty of anger at her, too, although I tend to agree with those who think this is manufactured and has been ongoing since she first entered the national political scene with her husband in 1992. She’s part of a powerful political family in Arkansas that has had its share of enemies for a great many years. I can’t support her, because her position on Israel is steadfast and intolerant in its support of Zionism.

So whose lever will I pull in November? I don’t know. I’m going to watch and see what happens, and then perhaps write in the name of Mark Cuban. Remember, Cuban was President in Sharknado 3, so he’s certainly qualified.

Art is for everybody

ala-artsIn the beginning there was music and dancing and theater and painting, and there were listeners and watchers. Those who performed for the king were compensated by the king in forms of currency varied in both treasure and usefulness. Food, clothing, shelter, fame and recognition, and most importantly, projects to accomplish were given to artists in addition to the occasional coin. In such a way, the arts were both reviled and revered, because the king’s wishes became theirs. In the film The Agony and the Ecstasy, artists in the catacombs of Rome noted this in one scene that included this marvelous quote: “We’re artists! We’ll always be slaves to another man’s nickel.”

Patronage for the arts is still practiced today, although little of it goes to the artists themselves. Mostly, the arts have been taken over by corporations whose interests rarely match those of their “employed” artists, and nowhere is this more obvious than in the world of music. Music today has betrayed itself by chasing wealth as its sole reward, and this is not only tragic but sad.

And we just assume that this is the way it’s supposed to be.

The Shirky Principle – that institutions will always try to maintain the problem for which they are the solution – when applied to the music industry is what led to its disruption by the digital age. Scarcity is the problem, and when consumers got tired of paying $20 or more for a CD with one hit, technology did something about it. Enter our dear friends at the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) who went to extreme lengths to halt the will of the people 15 years ago by actually suing its customers. This foolishness led to change, but the desire to protect “the industry” hasn’t given up. There’s still way too much money at stake, and music, unfortunately, is the ultimate loser.

Like the rest of the corporate owned and managed arts, profit is the bottom line in music, not expression of the arts. Originality is sacrificed in the name of repetition, copying, and the production of a sure thing. After all, the shareholders demand manageable growth, so their servants have no choice but to give it to them. Is this the meaning of the arts? I don’t think so. With the arts, as in life itself, one cannot serve two masters.

At the other end of the spectrum is YouTube. I won’t argue that YouTube isn’t part of an enormous corporation, but that’s not the point. I want to talk for a bit about what YouTube has done for the art of music, not the industry. The RIAA, after all, is now threatening lawsuits against YouTube in yet another grasping at straws in the name getting compensation for artists. Bullshit. The RIAA is many things, but it is NOT an advocate for artists, except where in so doing lines the pockets of its masters.

Meanwhile, there’s an awakening among artists everywhere that the web can be exploited to provide a distribution vehicle that can be used to create ancillary revenue streams. As I’ve written previously, YouTubeRed is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and it’s YouTube’s way of creating a micropayment system for those artists whose music is actually played, whether sponsored by corporations or otherwise. This is a certain harbinger for the healthy future of all of the arts, because the output of artists cannot be treated like manufactured products anymore. The arts belong to everybody, and if we enjoy them, it’s our responsibility to pay for them in one way or another.

We’re at the dawn of a great awakening of right brain output, and this pleases me. Industrial age mass marketing was not kind to those wishing to distribute their creative wares, and we’re experiencing the fruit of that today.

The squeeze by consumers has uncovered certain ugly realities:

  • Wall art is mass produced, because it’s cheaper than originals (and no mall carries original work anyway).
  • Music is entirely hit-based and celebrity-based.
  • Repetition is the lifeblood of arts-related industries but the destroyer of the arts themselves.
  • Hollywood only repeats successful formulas.
  • Publishers will only publish that which they know will sell.
  • All of the arts are based on the bottom line, because the arts are “owned” and operated by corporations.
  • As a result, the commercial expectations of artists are entirely wealth-based and unrealistic.

The web, however, has disrupted everything by making everybody’s art available to anybody. Remember, the network views middlemen as a mistake and routes around them. Therefore, you cannot superimpose laws created for the one-to-many world of mass media over the infrastructure of the network. It simply doesn’t work, because scarcity doesn’t (can’t) scale when everybody’s connected. It certainly carries a different value than it does in a disconnected marketplace, and all industries will be forced to deal with this at some point in the not-too-distant future. I understand the desperate nature of disrupted industries, but that does not justify throwing existing laws at the problem, and this includes copyright. We’re going to need visionaries in both the public and private sectors that don’t have institutional corporations in mind as benefactors, but instead, the artists themselves.

The arts are for everyone. As James Allen wrote in his wonderful little book As A Man Thinketh, “The dreamers are the saviors of the world,” and I take this seriously. The prophets of old were among the most sensitive of all humans, for their connection to the world beyond was far outside the norm. So, too, the artists of today prophesy with their work, and we need to pay attention. The problem is that prophecy doesn’t necessarily sell, and that’s our horrific loss. Bob Dylan is a rare example of both, but even at the height of his popularity, his music was an acquired taste. Of course, this was when the message of much of the music world was more important than a song’s ability to recruit wallets. Again, our culture has suffered, because we cannot hear today’s silenced messengers.

Of course, change always takes time, especially with lawyers reproducing like rabbits and for whom “the law” is natural essence of their sustenance. I’m also one of the old guys, so I probably won’t see it in my lifetime.

Nevertheless, let me encourage anyone who works for or benefits from the arts to set your minds on change and help move the rock collectively forward. Not only is it in your best interests, but it’s best for all of our progeny.