Why don't people say hey dude
Hey dude what's your problem
The rapper Tommy Vercetti raised the question in the last WOZ: Does the left have an art problem? The writer Simone Meier gives back. And advises to look the world in the eye fearlessly.
From Simone Meier
A man from Bern wrote a text here. About the fact that the left of culture is increasingly confronting political correctness with its clenched fudli cheeks and is increasingly making culture like that, which is why more and more often only mild air comes out of it and nothing that would really loudly roar out into the world.
I rarely call a man dude, but this one, because he's a rapper and performs like that, so self-confidently and with scantily clad women in a music video, no, not with prostitutes, but for example with a ballet dancer, which is historically true makes no big difference. He looks like the love picture from Stress and Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre, which is of course an extremely unqualified remark, because if a man were to write about a woman that she looks like the love picture from Big Zis and Sibylle Berg, I would be loud « Sexism!" scream because after all I'm a leftist and feminist and lesbian and generally a discrimination-sensitive person. No, I wouldn't, I'd find it pretty funny.
By the way, I have absolutely nothing against the dude's music, he raps far too beautifully about love for that, and when he also samples the Cole Porter sample from The Prodigy, I'm almost a fan.
Behind bars for life?
But what exactly is "the left" that he invokes everywhere in his text? Is she embodied by a few rightly angry trans activists criticizing J. K. Rowling? Is it the actresses abused by Harvey Weinstein who relaunched #MeToo? Are these left? Or are these just women whose careers have been broken by structural sexism and who are now finally standing up together? Is it the apocalyptic horsewomen of the “imperious riding-crop dictation of the left woke and cancel culture” who haunt Roger Köppel in his worst dreams? Or is the left even Twitter and has Donald Trump just deprived him of the right to freedom of expression? And is there a consensus dictatorship within the left? Nonsense.
Even within the “left” there are more often opportunists than those willing to compromise - and differences that cannot be resolved. Take Roman Polanski, for example. A case that for me is unsolvable. I love his films. They are exciting, suspenseful, sometimes funny, sometimes sexy and always great entertainment. But I am a feminist. And Polanski abused a minor in 1977.
I condemn what he did. But he was convicted for it in turn. Served his sentence, got out of jail. Then an anti-Semitic lawyer decided to reopen the case, after which Polanski fled. But he has paid. I stick to that. Because what should I obey if not the law?
A friend of mine sees it differently, he has a little daughter and thinks that someone like Polanski should be behind bars for life. Which of us is right now? The uncompromising father or the compromising feminist? These are unsolvable questions that lead to self-questioning on both sides, which one has to face and which are sometimes incredibly uncomfortable.
And if we are already at the reception of art that is not always impeccable: Does “the Left” love the film “The Divine Order” less because Alice Weidel's wife worked there as the production manager? No, because Petra Volpe's film is actually what Ms. Weidel's party is not, namely systemically relevant. Or would “Die Linke” celebrate Oskar Freysinger's poetry if its author were not a right-wing author? No, because Freysinger's poetry is simply bad. Verses like the following are embarrassing to themselves: "The guard is just a bunch, but duty and service make them great, because they watch over the heart of Christianity for eternity." (From: Oskar Freysinger, "The Swiss Guard".)
And what actually happens when “the Left” sits down on the drawing board of the art production? According to the dude from Bern, you could think that she does petty milk book bills there, according to a set of rules that is somewhere between Bertolt Brecht, Simone de Beauvoir, Frantz Fanon and Judith Butler. Now I can say that as a person I live with pleasure and consciously in a bubble of like-minded people. This is also called Safe Space. Where you are in good hands. As a journalist, I try to separate the world's garbage as objectively as possible into usable and useless.
But as a writer, I feel obliged to look the world in the eye and design characters that I would not associate with in private. To walk a path with them and to love them. The man with the features of an incel, for example. The young couple who have dreams that are far more conservative than I think they are good. The aging actor who is a sexist sack.
Why am i doing this? Because in fiction, where I could actually fulfill every wish for an ideal world, I forbid myself to be too comfortable in my left, feminist righteousness. Because that would be boring. And art shouldn't be boring. Art has to burn or scream or inspire or simply make love for a moment with those who meet it. If I understand the dude from Bern, who by the way has a name and is called Tommy Vercetti, correctly, we are in the same boat.
Privileged, of course
And while we're cruising along side by side in harmony, I ask: Vercetti, what's your problem anyway? Is it perhaps that you see your privileged white Dudeness, which has been a matter of course for a very long time, being questioned from too many angles? From sides that are not at all unsympathetic to you, but already latently annoying in their harsh criticism and penetrating questioning? Sorry, that doesn't count. You know, everyone else, the women, gays, lesbians, trans people, the billions of people of color were born without your privileges and fight for them. Your appropriation of your privileges is tantamount to an act of appropriation art. And the path to such an appropriation is never straight. It is forked, curved, full of gravel, sometimes goes through a swamp and is rarely tarred.
You can't just seem tolerant and want to proclaim universalism, because these "others" don't suddenly fall from the sky, but drag tons of stories with them that are of varying degrees of severity and which often have nothing to do with one another. But everyone else is the diversity and majority of tomorrow. And so is their art.
Art is always allowed to do anything. Yours, yours, mine But she has to expose herself to the self-questioning behind it and the questions that come from outside. Even when it hurts.
Essay «‹ I advocate the grossest opportunism: I feel it, so I dance to it! ›» By Tommy Vercetti in WOZ No. 2/2021.
Simone Meier is culture editor at the online portal “Watson” and a writer.
Her new novel, "Reiz", will be published on February 16 by Kein & Aber. It revolves around the question of how love and sexuality shape the life of a mature woman and a very young man.
Meier's earlier novels "Kuss" (2019) and "Fleisch" (2017) are still available in bookshops.
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