I recently started watching The Young Pope on HBO, which stars Jude Law as a self-obsessed, tyrannical, and incredibly stunted ruler who is more concerned with his own image than the good of his people. Sound familiar?
The Young Pope clearly understands its role in todays political milieu. Law’s Holy Father “says what he thinks, directly, loudly, whether people want to hear it or not,” making it virtually impossible for audiences to see him as anything other than a stand-in for President Trump.
And The Young Pope is just one example of new art being created in direct response to the world we find ourselves facing today. Black Mirror, a Netflix original series, is another popular show that plays with its audiences perception of what is a “fictional” dystopian society, and what could too quickly become a terrifying reality.
Even drawing on personal experience, our recent BU production of The Cradle Will Rock was a theatrical response to the danger of power being misused by a wealthy, elitist few. Though our villain did not don orange skin or a “Make America Great Again” hat, it was clear (I believe) that he was Trump through-and-through.
As a young artist, woman, student, and human being living in the United States of America in 2017, I find myself constantly asking the question, “should art aim to reflect the highly politicized world we find ourselves living in?”
My answer varies every day. There are times when I feel adamant that the threat posed to our very way of life is too great not to use our voices in any way that we can. For some of us, this may mean taking a pen to paper, creating a new ensemble with like-minded individuals, or grabbing a camera to shoot a story that is not being told.
But then there are days when I find myself wanting to just escape. Days when I would rather sit in my room and watch old episodes of 30 Rock rather than dive into the seemingly not-so-distant world of Black Mirror.
Or is it too late? Have we entered into a new-era that is incapable of separating politics from anything; especially the arts? On days when I receive more CNN updates than text messages, emails and Facebook notifications combined, I begin to think this may be our new truth. Has the luxury of “arts for arts sake” left us forever? Or will we one day find ourselves not so inclined to seek out the political metaphor in all that we watch?