The Responsibility of the Artist

David Brooks, in his typical keen fashion, observed after the Paris shootings "I am not Charlie Hebdo," noting that there is still responsibility to bear in our freedoms. Brooks wrote that "People who want to be heard attentively have to earn it through their conduct." Thus, the "extrinsic and indirect" relationship between art and responsibility that Maritain speaks of is re-surfacing today, especially after the horrors in Paris. It is not enough to have an anarchist freedom of expression stance to draw any offensive image we want, or to say that our fundamentalist religion forbids such offense. "To whom much is given, much will be required," says our Lord, and art and entertainment may be a way to show how our society has been given much, and how we can create in a way that shows our respect for what is required.

Perhaps, instead of being caught up in the red carpet celebrity driven spectacle, we can focus on those who truly mediate culture. Perhaps life can imitate art, where we grow, like the dad in Boyhood, becoming more responsible because the script of life tells us that we must care. Perhaps then we can begin to connect the words "responsibility" and "artists" in a meaningful way, and artists can be seen not as transgressors but as leaders of moral courage in a free society.

2/4/2015 5:00:00 AM
  • Religion and Art
  • Public Square
  • Anarchism
  • Celebrities
  • Charlie Hebdo
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  • Oscars
  • Christianity
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