Saturday, April 28, 2018


Some celebrities are being criticized for their political views and the op-ed page of The New York Times is on it.

Out of context, the line seems like an echo of white nationalist rhetoric -- liberal critics shouldn't "delete" right-wing celebrities the way Jews and others should not "replace" white Christians in America. Does the writer of the op-ed regard audience disaffection with these performers as eliminationism?

In fact, the author is Liel Leibovitz, a Tel Aviv-raised writer for Tablet magazine, and his principal concern is that bad choices in assembling a personal media library might impoverish one's soul. Be careful -- it happened to him!
Growing up in Tel Aviv, I would often grow enamored of a band, a writer or a filmmaker only to discover that my new celebrity crush was, to put it mildly, not a big fan of my country. At first, I resolved to disavow anyone whose politics I found reprehensible. I tossed aside those Brian Eno CDs, convincing myself that I had no business enjoying the music, no matter how entrancing, of someone who was calling for a boycott of Israel. I bored roommates at the time with endless rants against a musician for speaking his mind.

Even at my most indignant, something nagged. After all, the thing that angered me about Eno was the very same thing that made me love him in the first place, namely his ability to express deep emotions candidly for others to consider.
He extends this argument to Kanye West:
Listen to Kanye’s 2010 masterpiece, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” and you’ll hear an artist not only wrestling with all of his demons — “No one man should have all that power / The clock’s ticking, I just count the hours” — but sharing a flute of bubbly with them once he realizes the wrestling match is one he could never win.

Anyone who has marveled at Kanye’s ability to unmoor himself from reality in pursuit of his music should have no trouble understanding the mind-set that unleashed his latest tweetstorm.
Some artists' demons, of course, lead them straight into the underwear of children or unwilling adults -- should we follow those artists wherever their demons lead?

And why should we feel the obligation? We live in a Satyricon banquet of media excess. There's so much music to stream, so much televison to binge-watch -- why can't we cast a few people aside if their ideas offend us?

Please notice that we're not trying to ban any of these people. There's pressure on the sponsors of Hannity and Ingraham and Breitbart, but there's never been a sponsor boycott of Roseanne's show or Tim Allen's. No one is trying to take away Shania Twain's right to make music, or Kanye's -- in fact, Kanye is blowing up social media right now with a new pro-Trump song that's available only as a rip from a top L.A. radio station. No one's boycotting the station and the station isn't boycotting Kanye.

Who at this moment is being culturally banished for right-wing political opinions? Who's being banished the way Sinead O'Connor and the Dixie Chicks were banished for offending good, decent culturally conservative Americans? Give me a name. Even Ted Nugent goes on tour whenever he likes.

Give liberals a break -- we have every right as individuals to reject entertainers and artists who've pissed us off, and there's more than enough entertainment and art to ensure that our precious souls aren't culturally impoverished.

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