Vilifying or supporting the arts- U.S. vs. Norway

Quite an interesting contrast to see how the governments of two countries treat the entertainment biz. In Norway, they’re trying to find out more about the people who produce the arts: Artist life to be studied.

“Culture Minister Trond Giske will use NOK 1 million (USD 151,600) to find out exactly what kind of living conditions artists have in modern Norway… Giske points out that a certain amount of artists go in and out of unemployment benefit schemes and so the state already uses some funds on them. He now wants to find other ways to help.” Extraordinary, isn’t it? If you were an artist, wouldn’t you want to live in a country where your government is spending time and money to see what the best way for you to thrive is?

Meanwhile, in the ever-so-enlightened U.S.A., a congressional committee has decided to start up yet another study about “filth” in the arts: US Senate panel to examine decency issues November 29.

“The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee said on Tuesday it plans later this month to discuss indecent content aired on television to determine how to proceed on potential legislation to limit such material.” This is being led by the same senator (Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens) who puckers up to kiss the butt of big oil companies who are making record profits while prices have hit new high’s. Great to see that our priorities are all in order. But more specifically, this is the same Republican party which keeps trying to kill off PBS and the NEA.

But wait a minute… it’s also some Dems who are at fault here. Party leaders like Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton also like to score points by beating up on the entertainment industry. It’s chic and an easy attention (and vote) getter to find bogeymen that are coming after the kids and perverting their minds. Pushing up FCC fines, making arbitrary rules about indecency and taking every howl from the Parents Television Council like it was law evidently isn’t good enough. What they seem to want is to turn the clock to the early 1950’s and live in an imaginary world have all of mainstream art is supposed to be G-rated and sanitized. They can fight against history but ultimately, this is a losing game.

Is it just a coincidence that Washington’s attitude towards artists reflects its foreign policy? Attacking, punishing and stomping our will and ideals into others rather than trying to work with them hasn’t been working too well. We need a change of mind or we stand to lose a lot and suffer for it.