So let me say right at the start that this isn’t a “trend” story. There is no evidence that “the arts” are producing more conservatives, or more ultra-conservatives.
But with the proliferation of right-of-center media outlets and the viral nature of the internet, we have interesting new windows into the world of ring-wing art and artists that might have flown under the radar in earlier generations.
Right now “The Bible” on the History Channel is drawing attention for its glowing and sometimes racy re-interpretation of, well, the Holy Book.
It’s a spin on Scripture that includes a Barack Obama look-alike in the role of — wait for it — Satan. The series has been a hit.
Meanwhile, there’s a fascinating dust-up in the Pacific Northwest, where sculptor Charles Krafft was “outed” recently by a local weekly newspaper for embracing white nationalism and Holocaust deniers.
“I think he’s been demonized excessively,” Krafft said, referring to Adolph Hitler in an interview with public radio’s Studio 360.
“I’m not trying to resurrect National Socialism or Hitlerism, but my opinion of the man has changed considerably since I began my revisionist investigations.”
Krafft is a hugely respected artist, clearly a bright, thoughtful guy and a mainstay of the arts community in his region, whose work — including a Hitler-themed tea pot — has been collected by museums nationwide.
In the past, his fascinating explorations of Swastikas and other National Socialist symbolswere viewed as irony or transgression.
Now? Not so much.
But his fringe-conservative views have sparked consternation and hand-wringing and Krafft’s entanglement isn’t unique.
Long-time “alt-folk” musician Michelle Shocked has drawn heavy fire recently after emerging as a vocal born again Christian and reportedly telling her audience that God “hates fags.”
“I live in fear,” Shocked said, “that the world will be destroyed if gays are allowed to marry.”
A similar controversy has long embroiled one of the country’s most respected and beloved writers.
Orson Scott Card, whose “Ender” series is a mainstay for young readers and sci-fi fans, has been vocal for years with his aggressively anti-homosexual views.
Card has written at length about the idea of an actual war embroiling the United States, pitting conservatives against liberals.
In a commentary written for the Mormon Times, Card seemed to embrace the idea of armed resistance if same-sex marriage is legalized.
“Marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy,” Card wrote. “I will act to destroy that government and bring it down.”
Those views forced DC comics to shelve plans to have Card pen a story for their Superman line of comics, and have also complicated plans for a Hollywood movie based on “Ender’s Game.”
As a side wrinkle, there is also a fascinating urban myth-style screed circulating that purports to share the anti-big-government views of Bill Cosby.
“I’m tired of being told that I have to “spread the wealth” to people who don’t have my work ethic. I’m tired of being told the government will take the money I earned, by force if necessary, and give it to people too lazy to earn it.”
Turns out the conservative tirade — which also targets Muslims and climate change activists — is a hoax, that lives virally via email and Facebook.
I think it’s fair to say that these kind of right-wing views are more shocking in the art and media world than comparable views on the left.
(HBO did get in a spot of trouble when their “Game of Thrones” series included an image of George W. Bush’s severed head.)
But artists across the political spectrum have long been eccentric contrarians, embracing behavior and lifestyles that jar convention.
And I think it’s also probable that a lot of artists with right-leaning views keep them under tight wraps, for fear of facing the kind of backlash that has embroiled Krafft, Card and Shocked.
So what do you think? When an artist you like stakes out a political position you disagree with — perhaps even a political position you find morally indefensible — do you stop reading his books or seeing her movies or buying his sculpture?