By Heather Drain
“Rules are made to be broken.
Can’t kill what you don’t understand.”
– Wendy O. Williams
“Love is the Law, Love Under Will.”
– Aleister Crowley
Loving art is an incredibly rich and rewarding relationship. When your mind and heart are open to all kinds of expression, the world is your veritable oyster. When it’s fun, it can bring some much-needed cheer to a rough day/month/year. When it’s heavy, it can give you extra insight into the human condition. When it’s experimental, it can give you a completely new way to see. And when it’s bad, it can fuel you with some righteous snark or fresh hell anger that at last stokes the motivation to organize that one section of your room that is starting to look like the landfill in Labyrinth (Minus the British hag lady puppet.)
Expression and art are twin gifts in this mad, glad, and sad life. The first thing such gifts need are preservationists, followed by viewers, readers, and listeners. So Sadly, we live in a world where “fan culture” has gone from buying monster masks, comic books, and action figures to “fans” doxing women daring to have an opinion on gaming, harassing actors and actresses on social media, and all-out bullying of anyone viewed as “intruding” on their culture-groups of choice. Am I over-simplifying a bit? Of course, but the core truth still stands, with the biggest message at hand being that gatekeeping has got to go.
Like anything in life, I think the majority of people are innately good. Some are better than others, but most are smart enough to try to think more constructively than broke-in-the-knee and damaged-in-the-heart hand-wringing over their beloved franchises or titles being “ruined” because it’s been remade, has minority characters, or the worst of all, a woman dares to have an opinion and a voice about it. Also, if someone starts crowing about how a film or TV show has “ruined their childhood,” then they need to re-evaluate where life has taken them. Fiction has not damaged your past, Becky & Chet.
Here’s the deal, if you truly love art then the number one thing you should want for it is to be healthy and thrive and for that to happen, its past must be preserved, its present must be created, and its future never stagnant. Gatekeeping is the total antithesis of truly living and sucks out all of the key elements that enable and foster a healthy environment for the old ways to stay fresh, as well as giving brand new eyes, ears, and hearts to create a fresh way of doing things. Plus, the only person that actually owns art is the artist themselves. The shittiest remake in the world is not going to alter how great the original one is. If anything, it’ll probably just enhance it.
Now, this is as far as I got before a sampler straight from Hell hit. Two people whose work I greatly admired, wrestling innovator Tom “Dynamite Kid” Billington and punk pioneer/personal hero Pete Shelley both passed away within days of each other. A close friend of ours has terminal cancer and people got all hand-wringey about both the old Dean Martin holiday chestnut, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and The Pogues’ legendary duet with the late great Kirsty MacColl,“Fairytale of New York.” Sweet heavens, we’re living in an existence where life is consistently precious, while various countries (including yours, mine, and ours) are being run by malhearted powerlustlords who will never ever give an actual shit about the human race. To quote the Jenny Holzer, who is often right, “Abuse of Power Comes as No Surprise.” Anything that you think is new when it comes to politics isn’t. Let me add another quote here, this time from Boston’s classic rockers, Aerosmith: “It’s the same old story, same old song, and dance, my friend.”
We’re all in this gorgeous shit show of an existence together. If a song is offensive? Good! You know what’s more offensive? Most of the business going on in the news and behind-the-scenes. You don’t like x, y or z writer/filmmaker/musician/etc? MAKE YOUR OWN ART. I’m serious! Do it. Take that passion, vitriol, whatever and don’t live your life in impotent vanity.
Don’t get me wrong. Things like good-natured snark, passionate opinions and the like are all encouraged and things I absolutely endorse whole heartedly. It’s when the sense of humor is drained of blood and the heart is no longer beating that things get nasty. There is so much negativity going on in everyone’s lives, which yet again, makes me have to stress, we are in this together. It’s okay to be fed up and angry, even with the arts. Honestly, I have absolutely zero interest in seeing the Suspiria remake and maybe you do too. But if you want to see it and might even love it? That’s obviously fine. In fact, if you love it and it makes you happy, I think that is awesome! I have friends that I would get in a literal bar fight for who love films that I can’t personally stand behind. But I love their love for it! There is something for everyone in this realm and that is a GLORY. Is that gonna stop me from occasionally snarking about all the nerdly boners over superhero mainstream-itis? No, but I know people that genuinely have gotten so much happiness and entertainment from them, that I do not actually hate any of it. Will I seek it out? No, but I’m also not going to put in the free time and energy to rage against those that love it.
This is the crux of the matter, isn’t it? People who love art and are passionate end up gnawing and gnashing in ways that end up being less fun and more acidic in the worst of ways. Choosing one’s battles in this life is so key and if you’re choosing to rain on a fellow social media contact’s art love which is completely not harming anything in any real-world kind of way, then please, take a breath and look at the reality that is around us all.
Everything that we love when it comes to art is already there. No remake or write-up that you don’t like can actually alter the source material. It’s already there, pearl-like out there for all to observe and bask in. There are so many works of art and artists that are so DNA-like to me that others, including people who I am friends with, loathe. Which is fine, as long as all involved are not rude and inconsiderate. You know when you hear a song you really love and it’s getting you through a rough workday or family drama, so you share it on social media only to have one (or more) Negative Nelly pop up to immediately drag it and be a bit of a shit? Don’t be that person either. Again, save it for art. John Lydon once sang that “anger is an energy” and the man was and forever is, RIGHT. Anger is glorious when it is used correctly.
Our time here is so short, so let’s be kind, celebrate what makes us happy, suffer or show no malice, and be kind. If you’re reading this and have obsessed over people or art that you don’t like, be especially kind to yourself. Toxic acts are always from people who are hurting. I’m sorry you got let down. Life is hard. That said, please, don’t be a dick.
Now, that it’s off of my chest, let’s rock!