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I’m an Artist. Your Offense Is Not My Problem

When I’m sitting at my desk, keyboard-venting in my underwear or less, the coffee I drink is none of your business and neither is my content, until or unless I choose it to be.

A song from The Little Mermaid has been cut from a Princeton performance for being offensive.

“Baby It’s Cold Outside” has been removed from certain radio rotations due to being offensive.

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is being criticized for being offensive.

Charlie Brown is now criticized due to a particular TV special being offensive.

Of course, each and every person who is complaining has their own “reasons.”

Even this morning, candy canes have been banned from an east coast high school so as to not offend those who ignore Christmas.

I’m going to take a viewpoint that may piss people off:

I’m going to take the viewpoint of an artist who just doesn’t care.

Art is art is art, meaning whatever form it takes is an expression of an individual creator’s humanity. Of thoughts, ideals, of dreams, prejudices, fears, and hopes.

Artists who are noticed follow their own muse(s). They don’t worry about pleasing everybody. Their time is their own; their intent is based on whatever is on their mind or in their heart at the moment of their creation.

Remember the “Piss Christ?” Search Google Images if you don’t for a good look at one of the more controversial images of years past.

I ask you, if you believe in neither The Bible nor religion, and you look upon Jesus as simply a myth from a book of metaphor, would you be offended?

In other words, you cannot please everybody. Nor can you offend everybody. So let’s leave well enough alone, why don’t we?

Remember when we used to laugh at Banned Books Week, as if the world was spinning on a reverse axis and Puritans were dictating our content? Many of the works of Mark Twain were banned, and yet many of those same people shook their heads over “those crazy Muslims” who called for a fatwa against author Salman Rushdie, who wrote the “blasphemous” The Satanic Verses.

Today, we are no different. We are a collection of humans standing behind various social causes, frequently with the best intent but striving, maybe inadvertently, to find reasons to be offended if something or someone goes against the grain of that agenda. The old argument about Affirmative Action being equivalent to reverse discrimination is not a bad comp here.

If an artist chooses to create in private and not be noticed that’s their prerogative. They have that freedom. If an artist chooses to offend, they have that freedom too.

But attempting to erase history, for fear that one group or another, one person or another, will be offended if they don’t is just too damn bad.

Art does not follow rules.

We live in a less freewheeling era than those past and that’s fine and valid. Keep your inoffensive indulgences from the workplace. They don’t belong there anyway.

But don’t fuck with my art. Don’t fuck with my freedom of artistic expression.

As an artist, all bets are off. Art and homogeny do not mix; otherwise, what’s the point? I value my personal artistic enterprises. If you’re offended by my work, don’t patronize me.

I choose to be a difference-maker. If I fail, at least I reached for the stars—and all the cliches that implies—and fell on my face. That’s the beauty of what I do. My success, my audience...it’s up to my efforts.

I will go as far as I choose. I will stay awake and create art until I crash, or until I simply get tired of it all. That, though, likely won’t happen.

The freedom to both make a difference and make a dollar is a freedom I cherish.

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