What’s Wrong With This Picture?

It says “Blessed are the weird people, the poets and misfits, the artists, the writers, and music makers, the dreamers and the outsiders for they force us to see the world differently.”

blessed are the
Wait, were you trying to be nice?  Because I’m not a misfit.

I drive a minivan.  When I pick up my kids from soccer, I’m not an outsider.

I’m not weird for blogging, or writing songs, or performing.

But what I can see clearly from this graphic is that whoever made this oppressive little meme thinks that art-making is “other”.    See where it says THEY force US?  Who’s US?   What kind of sad, sterile world does Us come from?

This graphic isn’t just back-handed.   It’s a freakin’ hot mess of unproductive bias, posing in quaint fonts and biblical sentence construction.

What if I said:

“Blessed are the powerless, the women and the children, the victimized, the weak and suffering, the unheard and unheeded, for they remind us to use power gently, and to listen.”   Who’s the Us, there?   What’s normal there?

Try this one:

“Blessed are the pole dancers, the whores, harlots, and hussies, the girls in high heels, the women who wear lipstick and work that walk, the sluts and showgirls, for they remind the rest of us that life can be fun.”   Who’s the Us, in that one?   And how does that Us think the world works?

Or maybe:

“Blessed are the hillbillies, the farmers, the country folk, the sons of the soil, the rednecks, the field workers, hay balers and fruit pickers, for they toil beneath us and keep us fed.”  Who’s the Us there?

How about this one:

“Blessed are the under-privileged, the black and brown people, the criminals, the drop-outs, for they – “  blah blah blah I don’t even want to hear the rest of whatever you’re saying.

But I bet you meant well.  Right?

Maybe.

I’ll try not to believe that the person who made the “Blessed are the Weird” graphic was turbo-patronizing me as an artist in order to consciously squish me down.

Maybe the graphic-maker just yearns to do something artistic, but doesn’t feel able, because he or she thinks art is only for very special people.  (…those dirty, stinky, weirdos, but nevertheless…)

Let me help with that.

In my workshops we start by saying Art is a Human Birthright.  It’s not something that only a few people do; it’s basic to human nature.  Human groups on isolated islands will invent it without being taught, along with other basic human activities like sex, politics, cuisine, construction, athletics, haircare, spirituality, play, and plenty of other behaviors.

Art is normal.  Like throwing a ball to your dog is normal, yelling at the quarterback is normal, trying out new recipes and building your back deck – all normal.

“Blessed are the people who cook food –”  Because you DON’T ?

Grow up and learn to cook.  Sure, some people do it so well they get paid for it, but cooking is part of being a normal adult, male or female, rich or poor.  I will gladly help you learn, I’ll eat your first attempts and make encouraging yummy yummy noises.  And I’ll try hard not to make you feel bad for having thought it wasn’t your job.

That’s the point: don’t leave these activities for other people to take care of, and certainly don’t justify it with some condescending stereotype that probably derives from rich white guys in the 1800’s.

If you’re human, you’re an artist.   If you’re a misfit, don’t blame art.

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