Here is something I need people to start applying to “Our Current Moment”: math. I need people to start applying math very specifically to some of the mainstream art you’re holding up as a response to President Trump and his many flaws, and I need you to start doing this because your timelines – and your targets – are all wrong.
Some art math:
- Someone writes a screenplay. Even if they adapt it from an existing property, that generally takes months to create. The average movie then takes many weeks or months to shoot. You edit the film, market the film for months, then finally, distribute and release the film. Note that I have included no negotiation or shelf times here, which can last anywhere from weeks to years.
- The average novelist spends approximately 1-3 years writing a draft, then someone edits it. There are revisions, maybe rewrites. Then there is layout, printing, marketing and, finally, a release…alongside 800 other books that came out that day.
- Music can be released much faster, mostly owing to how thoroughly the internet has decimated the need for traditional distribution channels, and the ease with which technology has made it to record. That said, while a musician can turn around a song from composition to some shared form in less than 24 hours, that’s just one song. An album’s worth of even below average material still takes time to produce (see 99% of the music industry’s output).
- Visual arts probably have the shortest turnaround of any of the major mainstream art forms, but it is by far the exception to the mainstream rule (and the least publicized by these same outlets).
In short, art ain’t quick, and decent mainstream art – messaged timely or otherwise – can take even longer to put into the hands of an audience.
My point: Almost all of the movies or books or art coming out in the last year that you feel was designed to aim directly at President Trump was, in fact, created assuming we were going to be living under a Hillary Clinton presidency. Much of this work is not a response to Trump, or even the possibility of a Trump. It is work that was simply about America being America. Donald Trump doesn’t get you off the hook for being the America you were before November 8, 2016.
The work that appears in 2017 and beyond will likely be about Donald Trump, but that’s just icing on top of the cake that was already baked using America’s same old apple pie recipe. For all intents and purposes, the art you’re holding up against the Trump Era right now might as well be 1984, in that it condemns, not Trump, but abusive power states, state that existed before the problems you have now. We haven’t even got President Trump art out the gate yet.
I Am Not Your Negro is not a response to Donald Trump.
13th is not a response to Donald Trump.
O.J. Simpson: Made in America is not a response to Donald Trump.
Get Out is not a response to Donald Trump.
The Underground Railroad is not a response to Donald Trump.
Homegoing is not a response to Donald Trump.
Fences is not a response to Donald Trump.
Luke Cage is not a response to Donald Trump.
Tribe’s last album We Got It from Here… was not a response to Donald Trump (though it used Trump to great effect).
These thoughts and feelings and work were coming no matter who the president was. That’s because it’s not about the president. This is all about you, America. It’s always about you.