Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Do the Arts Have A Responsibility to Be Contrarian?

I'm plotting the third book in my upcoming UF series and--with seven books planned--each book has to deal with a piece of the Save the World series-plot. When I started writing this series, the real-world was in a different place The USA was doing comparatively well domestically. The popular vision was of an equalist society and was encouraging innovations to fling us out of well-entrenched, decaying ruts. Globally, we'd made a few missteps but we still had the respect of other nations caught in the same struggles we were.

I'd started writing these books when the arts had the luxury of being dark.

A bit of an odd statement, I realize, but one that is on my mind. There is no doubt that the current state of affairs is of unrest. Regression, polarization, subjugation, and application of corporate greed superseding the survival of the community. Every day ignorance is touted as might and as right; it is replacing facts and critical thinking. The USA is lead by a man whom most of the world considers a charlatan and a buffoon, a man who goes to no great lengths to prove his callow nescience on a daily basis. Our leading political parties are so entangled in their Faustian deals that national prosperity doesn't enter the discussion. Sweeping powers of governance are being returned to the States and the States are soon to discover that with more independence comes less Federal support--including funding. The Constitution is without teeth and setting dangerous precedents. In short, we are living in a time of burgeoning crisis, a crisis that will far outlast the politicians and media who enabled it.

In my little microcosm, I wonder if--as an author--I have an obligation to be a contrarian to reality. When I consider the plot of the overarching series, I wonder if, perhaps, the struggle should lead to the idealistic payoff. That the good guys should win. All of them. Frankly, a year ago, they weren't going to. I was gleefully conniving to be the Debbie-downer. The almost-made-it crushing disappointment being the big final twist. The Grand Sacrifice breaking hearts as it reflected the ugly truth that sometimes the good guys lose. But now, as I look around, I wonder if now is really the time to add to the disillusionment? What is the point of escapism if you can't fully escape? Don't I want my readers to feel better--if even for a moment--when they finish the series? Do they really need the reminder that life is a bitch, right now? When times are good, it's sometimes necessary to throw the caution flag into the Universe. But when times are shit, shouldn't it be hope that I contribute?

When the real world is a dystopia, do the arts have a responsibility to be uplifting?

That is what is on my mind this week.