Here they are, the outrageous masterpieces of woke culture that contaminated the art world in 2020.
10. Medusa as tombstone for #MeToo
One public monument that won’t be torn down anytime soon by the woke mob is the sculpture ‘Medusa With the Head of Perseus,’ which depicts the snake-haired Gorgon clutching the severed head of the Greek god in one hand and a sword in the other. Created by artist Luciano Garbati on behalf of the #MeToo movement, the Medusa faces the Manhattan Supreme Court, where Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was sent to prison for sexually assaulting a bevy of actresses and other female staff.
What began as a laudable idea – calling out sexual predators lurking inside of the film industry – the #MeToo movement snowballed into a media-hyped inquisition where dozens of famous men had their lives and careers ruined over nothing more than the rumor of sexual impropriety. Although some of the accused certainly deserved public condemnation, and worse, others arguably did not. One consequence of the so-called ‘Weinstein Effect’ is that men are becoming more guarded inside of their male-dominated industries, and “more reluctant” about hiring a female, Forbes reported. At the same time, it has raised the glass ceiling for women by several feet. Regrettably, Garbati’s poorly conceived Medusa would better serve as a tombstone for the ill-fated #MeToo movement as opposed to the clarion call it was intended to be.
9. Severed heads are acceptable art – as long as they’re white
To continue with the delightful decapitation theme, a painting was unveiled this year on Instagram that gave new meaning to the term ‘controversial.’ More shocking than the picture itself, which featured two obese black women holding the severed heads of a white man and woman, was the fact that the popular social media platform failed to censor it. In fact, it defended the savage imagery by saying “[B]ecause Instagram is a global community, we understand that people may express themselves differently.” Well, that’s certainly a change of tune.
As a thought experiment, however, it would not be difficult to imagine Instagram’s reaction had two obese white women been featured holding … well, you get the idea. Starting in 2017, when the so-called comedian Kathy Griffin posed with a mock-severed head of Donald Trump (which she tweeted again in November of this year without consequence), and despite Big Tech’s hand wringing over any and all forms of ‘hate speech,’ aggressive forms of ‘artistic expression’ targeting white people seem to be increasingly acceptable. That is a disturbing trend in the art world that should give pale-faced members of the Caucasian tribe some pause.
8. Naked Athena, too white to be ‘woke’
During this summer’s showdown between riot police and Black Lives Matter protesters in Portland, Oregon, the action came to an abrupt halt when ‘Jen,’ an unabashed sex worker, strutted her stuff towards the police line armed with nothing but a knit cap, face mask and her feminine charms. A comical confusion erupted amid the storm troopers, who beat a hasty retreat before the advancing genitalia, and, lo and behold, a star was born. The media was “practically drooling over the literal blank slate they’d been presented with,” observed RT commentator Helen Buyniski on these pages. Strangely, however, the heroine seems to have fallen out of favor with the media overlords. Could her apparent lack of melanin have anything to do with it?
At a time when the media-generated script really called for an Aretha, what it got instead was an Athena. That much screamed between the lines in an opinion piece by Mitchel S. Jackson in the New York Times (‘Who gets to be a ‘Naked Athena’?), where he questioned the “weird” motives of the naked (white) protester, as well as that of his predominantly white city. “Portland itself is 77.1 percent white and 5.8 percent Black. That’s why the Black Lives Matter protests there look like they do — white. They have to; that’s who lives there.” By the way, that was no compliment. Jackson wraps up his piece by lamenting that in Portland “whiteness hovers over us Black folk.” In other words, don’t expect the now-famous photo of ‘Naked Athena’ staring down Portland’s finest on behalf of BLM to be nominated for a Pulitzer anytime soon. It just does not jive with the times.
7. NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism invades Britain
Just because Britain freed itself from the European Union doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll be seeing the return to good old fashioned British culture and tradition anytime soon, especially on the art scene. That much seems certain by a new tax-funded exhibition, ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking,’ that opened to the public this year. Judging by some of the titles on display, including ‘NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism,’ it is easier to understand a review by fellow RT columnist, Alexander Adams, who speculated that some may get the impression the event was a “work by some comedian gently taking the mickey out of today’s increasingly woke art world.”
Alas, however, at a time when humor is the best antidote to these woke times comedy is now viewed as thought crime. Thus, hardcore reality will have to serve as comic relief, which should work just fine considering the sort of art on display. For example, what comedian could outperform a discussion on “Black women as neuroscientists using the domain of the beauty salon as a rebel underground network for a radically new shared system of communication”? Whatever the case may be, British art enthusiasts may soon be required to travel to the Middle East or Central Asia to attend an art exhibition on quintessential British themes, as opposed to those artificially derived from distant shores.
6. Queer techno porn and rave
Once again, another toxic ‘artivist’ event has landed in jolly old England, this time with the opening of the “queer techno rave and porn” event being held at the once-esteemed Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in London, a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace. To quote the press release, “Queer techno rave INFERNO take over the ICA’s Theatre, Bar and Cinema with an all-night programme of music, queer porn and performance art…the first in a series of all-night takeovers from club collectives exploring nightlife as a realm of self-expression.” Can anyone remember the last time a public exercise in “self-expression” did not require latex apparel, chainmail undies, dog whistles and other assorted paraphernalia? But I digress.
In deference again to my British colleague, who previously contributed his thoughts on the situation inside of the ICA and other artistic venues in his homeland: “Arts administrators in the UK live in a social milieu where the highest virtue is tolerance, which means boundaries are being ever expanded,” Adams explained. “Rejection of any activity is considered bigotry…[A]s long as the material or activity is anti-West, anti-white, anti-tradition, pro-gay, pro-minority, pro-mass-migration or “gender non-conforming” then it will find a welcoming home at the ICA – no matter the quality of art, or whether it can even be called art, or whether it even pretends to be art.” This begs the question, albeit from a non-British observer: is this really the sort of art ‘exhibition’ the British taxpayer wants, needs or deserves? At the very least, would it be asking too much to leave the alcohol-infused proclivities of the night club beyond the purview of the art gallery?
5. George Floyd and the Holocaust
Although a visitor to the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida may expect to confront a number of disturbing historical events, they probably would not expect to find a memorial to George Floyd, the African American who was killed by a white cop during an attempted arrest. Yet to express any reservations over Floyd’s inclusion would, to quote RT commentator Micah Curtis, expose that person to a “Kafka trap,” with the ultimate goal of having the individual “incriminate themselves.” Nevertheless, some observations are necessary. First, it is critical to question the media-generated narrative that ‘America is a fundamentally prejudiced country, ravaged by systemic racism.’
It’s a flawed premise, and applying it to the George Floyd case is questionable at best. As far as the tragic death of Floyd goes, it seems more reasonable to suggest that it was brought about not by some sort of neo-Nazi mentality, but rather a severe problem with regards to police tactics. The problem has very little to do with racism per se, although that is not to say there are no racists in US police forces.
4. Statue destruction, ‘cultural event’ of the year
At the risk of appearing to focus undue attention on the British art scene, it would be hard to ignore what the writer Mark Hudson has dubbed “one of the great cultural events of the pandemic era,” that is, the tossing of a statue to Edward Colston, a Bristol philanthropist and slave trader, into the River Avon. Aside from Colston’s profiting in human flesh as a reason for his statue being destroyed, Hudson relished in the sight of a ‘live performance’ amid the anti-viral lockdown.
“It rapidly became evident that virtual gallery tours are a bore and that when you’ve seen one performance of Beethoven’s Fifth played on kazoos from 30 different sitting rooms in the Home Counties simultaneously via Zoom, you’ve seen them all,” he wrote in the Independent.
While I can sympathize with Hudson’s exasperation with being cooped up in a flat or house for many days, to suggest that public displays of vandalism now ranks as one of the “great cultural events of the year” suggests something more than sheer boredom is eating away at this man’s brain. At this stage in the woke movement’s relative infancy (and certainly immaturity) the last thing the young vandals need is encouragement. Yes, Colston probably does not deserve to be immortalized in bronze or stone in the public square, but let’s at least be civil and bring the matter of his ejection to a vote. To applaud the mob as it destroys public property simply because the act is ‘live’ only invites far greater acts of destruction down the road, and especially if British Prime Minister Boris Johnson continues with his very unpopular lockdown regime.
3. New York Police ‘paid to babysit’ BLM mural
News that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had sent members of his police force to stand guard over a massive Black Lives Matter mural painted on a New York City street captures the absurdity of the woke movement like no other. The mayor’s order comes at a time when BLM is demanding the defunding of the very police they now want to guard their tax-funded work of graffiti (which de Blasio and his wife helped paint, incidentally). The situation is reminiscent of the situation inside of the protesters’ ill-fated Seattle Autonomous Zone, which saw some of the rabble calling the police when their personal safety was threatened. Would Bill de Blasio, plagued as he is by rising crime rates in the Big Apple, consider sacrificing a single police officer to guard a statue to Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln? Sadly, the answer to that question is all too obvious.
2. No place for ‘Mozart’ in age of Madonna
Although it would be hard to say which social justice art movement was the most asinine in 2020, Slate magazine’s argument that using famous composers’ last names contributes to an atmosphere of “systematic prejudice, exclusion, sexism, and racism” would certainly be in the running.
Writing in the liberal publication, Chris White, an assistant professor of music theory at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, apparently stayed awake at night wondering how some composers, like Brahms, Beethoven and Mozart, are recognized by just their last names, while others are not.
And yes, the article came with the predictable sermon preaching on the subject of white privilege. Professor White, who must be terribly ashamed of his family name, suggested the public use all those dead composers’ full names so we can “focus more on their music rather than on the past cultural practices that elevated straight white men at the expense of everyone else.”
Sorry Oprah, Madonna, Ellen and Beyonce, looks like the mob will be knocking on your door soon, too. Or then again, maybe not.
1. Yes, it had to happen: The Nutcracker is a dog whistle for white supremacists
In keeping with the spirit of the holidays, number one on this woke list must go to the famous Russian ballet, The Nutcracker, which first featured at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1892. Having survived a bumpy ride through history’s ups and downs, the ballet performance found its way to the United States where it has become, as in Russia, an annual Christmas favorite. That is, until the social justice warriors got their claws on it.
As reported in the Christian Science Monitor, many in the dance community have been wondering “if it is possible to transform ‘The Nutcracker’ to remove its racial stereotypes and aristocratic origins while holding onto its traditional charms.”
Exactly what did finicky concertgoers find unacceptable with the perennial classic? Well, for starters, “In Act 2, dancers portraying sweets from different cultures (chocolate from Spain, coffee from Arabia, tea from China) appear onstage. The traditional choreography and costumes – particularly in the Chinese section – reinforced stereotypes that are demeaning and offensive.”
Has it suddenly become obscene to associate a race of people with their native costume and food? Apparently so, at least for the very small group of people who look upon such national details not with a sense of pride or honor, but with disfavor.
I didn’t think it could get worse, but it does.
In another spin off of the original, Sam Pott, the founder and director of Nimbus Dance in Jersey City, actually used a term I never thought I’d hear in the same sentence as ‘The Nutcracker.’ For those already familiar with what triggers the radical progressives, you’ve probably already guessed it. Yes, ‘white supremacy.’
“It was important for European immigrants to have shows like the ‘Nutcracker’ that connected them back to their European traditions,” Potts was quoted as saying by CSM. “But sometimes that was wedded to white supremacy.”
Now, in the ‘new and improved’ updated version, a multicultural landscape is presented that shows “the safer and kinder Jersey City of their dreams,” he says.
And on that note, I will conclude this list. Thanks to those readers who made it this far. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Here’s hoping for a less angst-driven 2021, when people are less prone to look for problems where there are none.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
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