art and polity

I really, really don’t like it when people say “all art is political”. Because. It’s fucking well not. All art is politi-cised. There’s a fucking difference. 

It’s the difference- in Tumblr terms- between someone drawing Steven Universe in a binder, and someone drawing Steven Universe in a Down With Cis shirt. 

The person drawing Steven in a binder could have any number of reasons for doing it. They could be doing it because they are, themselves, trans, and want to see a character they like in the same boat because it makes them feel better. They could be doing it to show support for their trans friends. They could be doing it as part of a ‘draw x character as y identity’ challenge. They could be doing it because they just kind of like the idea and it makes them happy. They could be doing it because they get off to it. 

Some of these reasons are explicitly political. Some of them are very much not. They’re just people talking about their lives, or portraying a bit of the world as it exists, or making stuff that makes them happy.  Most of these things would not be controversial if being trans wasn’t controversial.  

And most of these people don’t want to be shouted at for making their art. They just want to be left alone to mind their own business and make things that make them happy.

The person drawing Steven in the Down With Cis shirt has an opinion and wants to make sure you know that opinion. Furthermore, they usually have specific prescriptive Things they want you to do because of it.  (Even if it’s just ‘be mean to random people on the internet’ or ‘write long, wanky meta apologising for liking your favourite things’.)

They want to be controversial. They want you to argue with them. They want to change your mind, or to be angry at you for not changing it.  

I feel like a lot of the people who say ‘all art is political’ mean ‘all art is in a Down with Cis T-shirt’. And… for reasons I can’t entirely verbalise, I’m Not Okay with this.