God Bless The Artists: A Frustrated Plea To The Masses

God Bless The Artists: A Frustrated Plea To The Masses

It's time to celebrate artists the way we celebrate athletes
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Once when I was in high school, I went with my mother to my little brother’s football practice. Having never really been into sports, I was sitting with my notebook writing down movie ideas when my mom was suddenly approached by a friend of hers whom she had gone to school with. They caught up with each other, and my Mom introduced me to the guy who, being at a football practice, asked me what kind of sports I played. As always, I smiled awkwardly and stated that athletics “weren’t really my thing.” His brow furrowed and he asked me what was "my thing?" I told him that I did theatre, and acting, and singing. “Oh,” he replied not missing a beat, “you do the pretty boy stuff.”

This is an experience that my mother perhaps wouldn’t remember, but one that made a huge impact on me at the time. In the 2005 film “Guess Who,” Bernie Mac’s character states: “A man who doesn’t play sports isn’t really a man as far as I’m concerned.” This popular mindset – one that idolizes sports, and dismisses art – is one that I have seen prevail my entire life, and even recently when I discovered that one of my professors' strict attendance policy applied only to “non-athletes.” It has always been fascinating to me that the public is so quick to trivialize arts, and entertainment when our lives are submerged in music, movies, books, and – yes – even televised sports. Certain politicians seem to be committed to cutting funding for arts programs in schools, U.S. News and World Report states that 80 percent of U.S. school districts have cut funds since 2008, while it's customary for universities to put their entire budgets into football and basketball programs at the expense of their music and theatre programs. Our society has taught us that art is simply unimportant, as if we could live in a world without music or television.

80 percent of U.S. School Districts have cut arts funding since 2008

As a young African-American male, not enjoying sports makes me an alien of sorts. As a kid, I often tried to pretend or force myself to be interested, even though my interests were clearly unrelated. I grew up enjoying my artistic activities and the success that came with them, but there was always a chip on my shoulder regarding my lack of excitement for the country’s favorite pastime. Still, the issue has nothing to do with the fact that people enjoy athletic events as, ultimately, everyone should be allowed to like what they like. The issue is the declaration of importance for one passion over another.

In my four year education at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C., my classmates and I attended school from 8:30 to 5 everyday. In the theatre department, we took rigorous movement classes where we trained in dance, fighting, and all kinds of physical activities in addition to training in acting, voice, and technical production. Being an actor/singer/writer/director has required bodily discipline, emotional intelligence, vocal technique, and plenty of other unique skills, and yet I’m told constantly – either explicitly or implied – that what I do is easy or simple or “pretty.”

In December of last year, clothing retail store Old Navy released a line of graphic tees for toddlers featuring the phrases “Young Aspiring Artist Astronaut,” and “Young Aspiring Artist President”. After social media outrage, the shirts were taken out of circulation, but the creation of them reveals that the problem is more than indifference. In this 21st Century that we live in, the real problem here is that, like telling girls that they should seek out a man to handle things for them or telling gay youth that they’ll never be accepted by society, children are going to digest these ignorant statements as gospel. They will believe that they have to like sports even if they don’t, or that they’re not contributing anything to the world by singing or dancing Unless, of course, they “make it big”, which seems to be the only condition where this path is considered okay. Young people will believe that being an artist is not a “real job.” Young boys, specifically, will continue to think that choosing art is “girly,” which is still equated with “weak” in today’s society, and they won’t do it.

Because sports is one of the most successful and supported industries in the country and the world, this conversation is not one likely to be prioritized by the public. Make no mistake, however, it is an important conversation; one that if handled properly, could lead to more young artists moving confidently forward into the world instead of being held back by outdated mindsets that dismiss their passions. Sports are fun, popular, challenging, and they bring people together. For this reason, they deserve to be celebrated. However, it is possible (and necessary) to support one institution without bringing down another. Famed author and poet Langston Hughes stated, “An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose.” The goal here is to allow people to be confident in their talents, especially when those talents lead them to entertaining the very people who attempt to marginalize them.

Cover Image Credit: Arts Rising

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I'm Sick Of Politics Taking Over The Entertainment Industry

Leave the political analysis to the reporters.
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People watch the news to learn about current events and form political opinions, then they watch talk shows and other forms of entertainment to relax and enjoy the program. Mixing these two worlds is, quite frankly, annoying. I understand that there are shows such as "The Today Show," and "The View" which I enjoy very much.

These programs flirt with the lines of mixing current events and entertainment. However, what I don't want is to turn on Jimmy Kimmel and feel like I'm watching CNN.

With our country being as polarized as it has been, we should not be making it worse by having politics shoved down our throats every time we try to watch a current show or movie. This is especially true since Hollywood is overwhelmingly liberal. Even in the cable news cycles, there are options; for each political ideology for late-night television and even modern sitcom, there is only one ideology and that is LIBERAL LEFT.

This is not to say that one side is better or worse than the other, however, if the entertainment industry is attempting to take on politics too, then shouldn't there be some sort of ideological diversity?

In times of political and social hostility, some people enjoy a safe haven away from politics. It would be nice to get away from the partisan news cycles for a few hours and watch a movie, or binge your favorite sitcom, however, with Hollywood's agenda that is simply not possible anymore.

I don't understand the push for having a political undertone in everything that is aired recently. It is not relevant and it is making our country more hostile towards one and other because not only are viewers getting upset over conflicting opinions on sensitive topics but, we are also being forced to hear about it at every point of the day. The average person should be able to choose if they want to watch the news or entertainment television.

I am the type of person who watches the news daily. I enjoy knowing what is going on, however, even I need a break every now and then. The entertainment industry should stick to entertaining and leave the political analysis to the reporters.

Cover Image Credit: SNL Facebook

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10 Ridiculous Quotes From Politicians

10 silly things politicians have said.
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I’m sure we have all watched the news or read an article, especially in the last couple of years, where we were shocked about what someone has said. The first thing that comes to my mind are the several crazy things said by President Trump. Anyone remember him talking about how sexy his daughter is and that he’d sleep with her if she wasn’t his daughter? I do! There are plenty of other crazy things politicians have said over the years. Let’s check them out!

1.) “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”-Then Senator Joe Biden on then Senator Barak Obama when first running for president

2.) “We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush’s term.”-former White House Press Secretary Dana Perini

3.) “I think that gay marriage should be between a man and a woman.”-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

4.) “These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by griefparrazies. I have never seen people enjoying their husband’s death so much.”-Conservative pundit Ann Coulter, on 9/11 widows who were critical of the Bush administration

5.) “When the President does it, that means it’s not illegal.”-Richard Nixon, in a 1977 interview with David Frost

6.) “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”-2012 tweet by President Donald Trump

7.) “A lot of people who go into prison straight-and when they come out, they’re gay.”-Ben Carson

8.) “Outside of the killings, DC has one of the lowest crime rates in the country.”-former mayor of Washington, D.C. Marion Barry, 1989

9.) “By integrating women into particularly military institutes, it cripples the readiness of our defense.”-Delaware GOP Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell, 1995

10.) “I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape.”-Idaho Senator Chuck Winder, 2012

Sometimes it’s funny to hear about the ridiculous things politicians say. However, pay close attention to exactly what they are talking about because they may be more than just stupid words. Words have meaning and the people who say them could have a huge effect on what can happen afterwards. Politician or not, you should always be careful when speaking. You could offend someone, say something you don’t mean, or cause a chain reaction that could lead to some unwanted consequences.

Cover Image Credit: The Job Radio

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