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Jun 25, 2011

Political Satire v.s. Political Subterfuge

As a long-time political satirist I wish we'd see more debates like the one between the Daily Show comedian (and liberal) Jon Stewart and conservative talk show host Chris Wallace aired on FOX, an illuminating dialogue between two very different but often confused agendas, of which this conversation is a perfect example.

On both sides there is a relentless pursuit of victory and all means are pursued toward that end. But the objectives are different. For Wallace– and conservatives in general– the motivation for battle is a struggle between the legitimacy of right over left. However for Stewart (but definitely not all liberals) the struggle is not between right and left but between truth and falsehood. With that in mind one can begin to see how a warrior on the first side would detect a "political bias" on the part of the other– precisely because those objectives are different. The weapons that the first faces (truth) appear for all the world like the enemy they are battling ("liberalism") and expect to be confronted with.

Jon's bias isn't 'left' so much as true to the form itself which is motivated by a desire to expose hypocrisy among the powerful, whatever its source! Jon's point could have been stated more clearly, which is that the relentless pursuit of the truth has no political bias (except that the only people who ever abuse power are the ones who have it!!) If the fish caught in that net are mostly of one party that indicates not a bias of the reporter but that abuse of power is more common in that party. It all comes down to the truth, not ideology (though Jon did a very commendable job of claiming the bias that he does show occasionally- something that doesn't help the truth though it may produce a better laugh in the moment. Political bias is never OK in the pursuit of truth, even when it's very funny!) The opposite of that approach is not 'conservative', but rather condoning deceit, and what is worse, a failure to call out those who abuse power. If he only exposed people from the right while ignoring hypocrisy from the left, THAT would be bias, but Stewart follows the noble mission of political satire– the true weapon of the little people– relentlessly.
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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.