Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Less Than Swimmingly

The Masters Swimming Discussion Forum moderator deleted my comment for political content. The message read:
Your posts on the Obama T Shirt thread have been deleted. Political discussion is not acceptable here, and it is also not acceptable to try to skirt the rules by posting a link to your external blog where such discussion takes place.
Fair enough. I did not object, but did observe that such controversies in these exasperated times of ours were often politics dressed up as something else. Like "culture."

The local organizers of the event have had their hands slapped for giving out the Obama shirts, and now two discussion threads on the USMS forums are being shut down.

Time for a big chill pill. But after you're done chewing wait at least 45 minutes before going in the water, because otherwise you'll get a cramp and drown.

Image: Al Parker, Mother and Daughter Swimming, Ladies Home Journal cover illustration, August 1946.


David Apatoff said...

The way things are going, it doesn't look like anyone is going to be taking a "chill pill" until after the election, and perhaps not even then.

But you do raise an interesting art-and-politics issue here. This reminds me of the debate in the first half of the 20th century about the (perhaps unintended) political consequences of art; Communists argued that traditional, boring realistic art was in reality counter-revolutionary because its images implicitly reinforced the bourgeois values of the academy. Then for a brief moment, art that was experimental and avant garde became associated with progressive political movements because it disrupted the status quo and got people thinking in unconventional ways. People had all kinds of debates about subliminal political content in abstract art. (A solid red canvas might be acceptable or not depending on whether its title was "red #35" or "blood of the proletariat.")

Ultimately, "revolutionary" art became the most conservative, hackneyed style-- socialist realism. Simple minded paintigs of glorious workers harvesting the crop or working the steel mills. They squeezed the last ounce of art of it, and propaganda took over completely.

That was long ago, but it sounds like the art police are out again, doing sentry duty.

DB Dowd said...

Thanks, David. Interesting that Fairey's Obama image trades on the social realist/heroic propaganda tradition. I will confess to an affection for social realism as a sort of visual language, though not as political speech. Curious to hear your thoughts on the Dartmouth/Orozco murals if you have time...


In this particular case I think the cause of the flap was a "failure" to see the art as art, or as a cultural image, as opposed to a political one.

GTR said...