Back in 1989 the film critic and social commentator Michael Medved conducted a wide ranging interview of actor Leonard Nimoy; the interview focused primarily on arts and culture. Although he is most famous for playing the Vulcan Mr. Spock on Star Trek, Nimoy was also a published poet, a professional photographer, a successful stage, film and TV actor and film director. He lived long and prospered, slipping the surly bonds of earth in 2015.
The video below, recorded at Hillsdale College, is of the 1989 interview and subsequent Q &A in which he mused about life, the arts and culture. It is a long video (1:47) and worth every minute.
Politics is downstream from culture in that politics is shaped by culture. Famous writers like George Orwell (1984), Arthur Koestler (Darkness at Noon) and Mario Vargas Llosa (The War of the End of the World) have ruminated on this and warned of the dangers of fanaticism, ideology and detachment from reality.
Unfortunately, lots of artists, and certainly many important ones, have had long term love love affairs with various forms of collectivism. Unbeknownst to the public at large, these artists and writers have had a powerful influence on shaping the culture in which we now live. They include everyone from pop stars to serious philosophers. These would include a wide variety of players ranging from the unserious (e.g., James Cameron, Madonna, Sean Penn, Woody Guthrie) to serious writers and thinkers (e.g, Jean-Paul Sartre, Isaac Brodsky, John Steinbeck).
As a result, art has too often simply become a propaganda tool that totalitarians are only too happy to use. Large works of sculpture celebrating “Socialist Realism” are still featured in Tiananmen Square, for instance. Interestingly enough, one art form that has not been seriously compromised (yet anyway) is the art of the stand-up comic.
Dictators (and for that matter social justice warriors, AKA totalitarians in waiting) are fearful of comedy for the obvious reason that their power is diminished when they are the subject of jokes and are easily made to look like fools. Not to put too fine point in it, there are not a lot of easy laughs emanating from North Korea or Cuba. That said it is worth considering that people like Jerry Seinfeld have indicated they are not interested in doing shows on “woke” campuses.
With that in mind, it is worth watching th short video clip by John Stossel below.