This morning, on the BBC’s flagship Radio 4 “Today” programme, they have a guest editor – musician P.J. Harvey. You can hear the presenters positively squirming in their seats. Harvey has invited incisive commentators onto her programme and there are some pretty hard hitting views being expressed. Bravo!
How did the mainstream media react? There is an opinion piece, today, in a right wing newspaper, declaiming P.J. Harvey. It was written by an utter corporate shill and the argument employed goes something like this: P.J. Harvey is a great musician, but she should stick to music and leave politics to those that think it through. The same blanket statement applies to comedians and other artists.
I find this view utterly offensive and patronising. In the first instance, P.J. Harvey’s guests are people that have most definitely thought things through. In the second, why does the vocation of artist disqualify you from holding passionate political views? There’s confusion between being entertaining and having nothing of any depth or worth to say.
I think that artists, increasingly, are using their art as a vehicle for political points of view and I applaud this trend. It’s honest. It’s human. It effects change. On the whole, artists tend toward more compassionate positions and raise excellent questions that the establishment would rather not answer. More power to them!
As for those that use their art, in this case writing, to shore up the corporatist point of view, I think they lack integrity. They’ve been bought and paid for and are happy to write whatever is required to earn their meagre living as a working writer. That’s pathetic. If, on the other hand, they genuinely hold to those corporatist viewpoints, they’re rather delusional, believing that they are billionaires in waiting or that, through their work on behalf of the powerful, they will one day be admitted to the club. It’s never going to happen.
What’s clear is that the views of people like P.J. Harvey are generally sorely underrepresented in the mainstream media. How refreshing when, as a New Year’s treat, they get to say their piece. I wish it would happen more often.