|Album cover for The Bravest Man in the |
Universe by the late Bobby Womack.
He reveals much about himself in the songs.
|From the music video to Damon Albarn's song Everyday Robots.|
Another artist who reveals so much of himself in his work.
There's a TV drama series on Channel 4 at the moment called Born to Kill. It has been advertised heavily on social media, buses and billboards. I'm reluctant to recommend it because it is very dark. [THERE WILL BE SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT]. It's about a teenage boy who is troubled and is similar to his father. This teenage boy has been told that his Dad is dead, but in reality, he is in jail for murder and for violently abusing his son (the teenage protagonist) when he was very little, and the mother of his son.
As I said, I always think about the writer. The writer portrays the teenage boy in Born to Kill to have psychopathic characteristics. The boy is high-functioning when he needs to be, demonstrating great charisma in front of even adults much older than himself. Yet, the writer constantly reminds us that this boy is acting. He rehearses conversations in his bedroom. He has these monologues with himself in front of the mirror, complete with emotional facial expressions. Sometimes we are later taken to a scene where he performs what he has rehearsed to someone else.
He is two-faced. His reasoning is inconsistent. He holds grudges that don't budge. He possesses trophies from the people he kills. Yes, he becomes a murderer like his father.
But what struck me about this art is how low human life is viewed in it. The teenage protagonist is glorified. He is athletic, a champion diver. He sees a girl he likes. Despite her initial disinterest, his charisma predictably manages to win her over. These teenagers are school kids, but they have highly sexualised encounters. They act as though they are experienced actors in a soft porn movie. Yes, we are in a society where schoolchildren watch soft and hardcore pornography. But the writer exacerbates the society's problem by choreographing it himself, which normalises that which teenagers would probably not do unless they had seen it done and had the chance to practice.
The teenage boy is portrayed as a sexually desirable hero, who kills people without remorse in his spare time. This art demonstrates the writer's low view of human value. Or at least, it is far far far lower than mine. I am writing a novel where people die in it. The story revolves around life and death, and at times, goes into disconcertingly great detail. Yet, I deal with the subject of death with great care and reverence. I would never glamorise killers. There is a way to be frank about death, while at the same time, demonstrating respect for it.
I suspect that most people watching Born To Kill will not consider the writer's beliefs in much detail. It is a thriller designed to horrify at times, but primarily to entertain. It successfully does those things. But art is never simply a neutral form of entertainment. It influences societal opinion and philosophy. It is somebody telling a story from their eyes, from their understanding, and they have a point to make.