“Ignorance is not innocence but sin.”
— Robert Browning
It’s not my day to post fiction, but some readers may find the following to be a different kind of horror.
I’d say I’m sorry, but I’m not.
I’m not sorry for weighing in. I’m not sorry for speaking out. I’m certainly not sorry for suggesting that truth matters more than some kind of poorly constructive alternative. And I’m not sorry for suggesting that we, as artists, should make our voices heard in every available medium.
Sometimes a celebrity, often an actor, will take advantage of their publicity to make a political statement. When that happens, there’s an inevitable critique. “Stick to acting. No one cares about your politics. That’s not what we pay you for.”
What good is art if all it does is entertain? Sure, there’s value in entertainment, but there’s a rich history of artists using their art as vehicles of a message. And we need that now. Badly.
Whether her sound is your cup of tea or not, Lady Gaga showed us that even pop music can deliver a punchy (if somewhat subtle) message. Her Super Bowl Half-Time performance wasn’t an overt political statement…but it so was. And it was beautiful.
Never before in the history of humanity has it been easier to verify truth. To call out liars. To know, with reasonable certainty, what is fact and what is fiction.
And yet, we live in a day when powerful leaders choose to distort fact, banking on the laziness and prejudice of the masses to mask their rather obvious lies.
I’ll say it again. Bull. Shit.
Look, if you don’t want your art, in whatever form it manifests, to be all about politics, I get it. I held off sharing my own views on marriage equality until I just couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t want to drive potential readers away because they objected to my views. And besides, I write horror and fantasy. It’s not like it would be hard for those so inclined to casually dismiss my opinions.
But if artists are afraid to speak and speak boldly, we’re in real trouble.
I’m not telling you what your politics should be. You may well disagree with mine. That’s fine. What I am telling you, my fellow artist, is this: don’t shy away from talking about the stuff that matters.
Don’t run from truth in your art. Embrace it.
And this is where following my own advice gets dodgy. This isn’t a fiction piece. This is me, my voice, my opinion laid bare. But I’m the one who has to look myself in the mirror each day, and I sincerely feel it’s important to say what I’m about to say.
President Trump is a bully, and a powerful one at that. That makes him dangerous.
He lies frequently, sometimes for no reason other than his own inflated sense of self. He’s on record (as in, there’s a literal recording of him) bragging that he can and has gotten away with sexual assault. He doesn’t respond to critics in dialogue, but pushes to simply shut them up, even if those critics are respected members of the journalistic press. His pride is so overwhelming and so obvious that it distorts every single interaction he’s a part of.
We’ve seen world leaders embrace this style of command before. The results are never good.
I’d write a horror story with a toupee-wearing, orange-skinned villain, but it would fail to fully capture the very real terror that is his vision of America. Of the world. So instead, I’m speaking out against him here, now, in a very candid way.
Keep marching. Keep protesting. Keep fact-checking, and ranting, and talking. Discuss his power plays in the coffee shop, at church, and over dinner. Don’t stop. A rabid dog is only as dangerous as his leash is long.
Hell, even if you support him, surely you don’t want an America in which the president can do whatever he pleases, unchecked. That would be the downfall of our entire system. Even if you believe in him, I hope you believe in democracy more.
And if you’re an artist, find ways to embody messages of hope, love, equality and inclusion in your art. Those themes frequently pop up in my stories, even the ones that are full of blood and guts. Pull that stuff into your art, too.
In short, stand. Stand up and stand out for what you believe.
The world needs your voice, now more than ever.