Tag Archives: Tropic Thunder

A meditation on individual expression

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a meditation on censorship. In light of all the recent discussion surrounding the film Tropic Thunder, I thought I should post this companion meditation on individual expression:

Emperors uphold censorship,
But extreme repression leads to extreme reaction.
Individualists believe in freedom,
But extreme expression leads to extreme reaction.

To answer the question I posed in my last post, “No, I don’t believe the creators of pop-culture have a responsibility for limiting their content to what is ‘acceptable’.” The nature of art is individual expression, and in that the ‘artist’ is responsible only to himself.

As the meditation above states, though, this unlimited expression might result in “extreme reaction.” Artists must accept the consequences of their expression. If they offend or anger a group of people, or even individuals, they should expect those people to express their own feelings. This could be a blog post, a letter to the editor, or a boycott.

In the case of Tropic Thunder, I don’t agree with calls for the film to be changed or for it to not be shown. That is an extreme on the “censorship” end of the spectrum. I do, however, support those who call for a boycott or other action against by individuals or groups about the film. That is an acceptable reaction to the individual expression of the film-makers.

Pop culture has power; does it also have a responsibility?

In a previous post in which I discussed the power of pop culture, I wrote the following:

As much as we may wish it were not so, we can’t ignore the power of pop-culture and the influence it has had, and will continue to have, on the public perception of autism.

(You may have also seen a version of this post earlier this year, when I reposted it in the wake of the ABC Eli Stone story. And, no, I’m going to repost the whole thing again 😉

In the article Film comedy courts controversy; mental disabilities heart of issue, Jenny Goode, chief executive officer of the Betty Hardwick Center, has the following to say about pop culture::

“What we need to consider as responsible adults is that things that occur in pop culture, movies, television and books are things that people do use in some sort of layman’s way to educate themselves or to learn from or emulate in their own lives,” she said. “These things are repeated by young people and adults alike.”

These two quotes together brought to mind those immortal words of wisdom from Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben (yes, another somewhat gratuitous pop culture reference): “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Do the creators of pop culture – or any kind of “culture” – have a responsibility to wield their power responsibly?

Or is it our responsibility as consumers of pop culture to understand what it is that we are consuming and put it into the proper perspective for our own lives?