Art Means Honesty

Mood/Music Monday

I came across the most amazing video this morning—Killer Mike and El-P from Run the Jewels offering love advice to teenage girls. I love it for 2 reasons:

  1. The advice is both reasonable and practical. 
  2. Run the Jewels is the most vulgar music I currently listen to on a regular basis. 

If this video was your first impression of Killer Mike & El-P, you'd probably think, "These are pretty nice guys." Then you'd listen to Close Your Eyes below, and you might not think that anymore.

Most of us have heard the cliche don't judge a book by its cover. This is often interpreted as: true beauty comes from within, or yet another cliche. What it can also mean, and what it means to me, is that it's possible to compartmentalize who you are as a person from who you are as an artist. In fact, I kind of think that if you don't, you're setting yourself up for insanity.

Part of being an artist is allowing yourself to think outside of your own moral code. That doesn't mean you're going to act on any dark thoughts you might encounter, but it does give you a better understanding of why somebody else might. The key to great art is dually comprehending and communicating empathy. You can write the same old story over and over again as long as your characters are relatable.

More than anything, to me, art means honesty. Honesty includes words you don't like, concepts you don't want to think about, sins you don't want exposed. When we're forced to leave out the bad, the raw, there comes with that an unspoken acknowledgement that the edited version is somehow the better version. Maybe for you it is, but I'd rather have the full story before I go forming an opinion.

Run the Jewels
featuring Zack de la Rocha
Close Your Eyes

Conditions create a villain, the villain is given' vision
The vision becomes a vow to seek vengeance on all the vicious
Liars and politicians, profiteers of the prisons
The forehead engravers and slavers of men and women
Includin' members of clergy that rule on you through religion
(He'll strip your kids to the nude and then tell 'em God will forgive 'em)

*My husband and I were discussing the struggle portrayed in this video. It's not really a fight, but a deliberate struggle, and then they just... give up. If profanity isn't your thing, I urge you to watch with the sound on mute. There's a dynamic message here that shouldn't be missed.

Margot & The Nuclear So and So's

I'm in a book
For you to read and then throw out
I wasn't born
I was just dropped into your arms

The Fox, The Crow and The Cookie

Using most unfriendly words that the village children had not yet heard, the Baker shouted threats by Canzonet to curse the crafty bird:
You rotten wooden mixing spoon!
Why, you midnight winged raccoon!
You'd better bring those pastries back, you no good, burnt-black-macaroon!

Bright Eyes
At the Bottom of Everything

We must blend into the choir
Sing as static with the whole
We must memorize nine numbers and deny we have a soul
And in this endless race for property and privilege to be won
We must run, we must run, we must run

Jack White
Hypocritical Kiss

Who the hell’s impressed by you?
I want names of the people
That we know that are falling for this

You would sell your own mother out
And then betray your dead brother with another hypocritical kiss

Chick Magnet

He knows just what to do
When it comes to the girls
He writes them poetry
And he picks them flowers
He knows just what to say
When it comes to the ladies
Knows how to make a girl smile
How to drive a girl crazy

The White Stripes
You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do as You're Told)

You don't know what love is
You do as you're told
Just as a child at ten might act
But you're far too old
You're not hopeless or helpless
And I hate to sound cold
But you don't know what love is...
You just do as you're told

The Distillers
Drain the Blood

All my friends are murder
Hey, all my bones no marrows in
All these fiends want teenage meat
All my friends are murderer

Creedence Clearwater Revival
I Put a Spell on You

I put a spell on you
Because you're mine

The Echo Friendly
Same Mistakes

I make the same mistake
(I never did grow up)
Feels like I never learn
(Feels like I never will)
Always give way too much
(My friends are all adults)
For little in return
(I'm still a teenage girl)
I haven't changed a bit
I'm still not over it
I make the same mistakes
I make the same mistakes

*This song plays at the end of Girls season 1, episode 4: "Hannah's Diary." The episode also contains one of my favorite scenes from the series. I was inspired to watch the show again from the beginning due to criticism of Lena Dunham I recently read on the interwebs. Sometimes seeing other people get what we want is a little hard to swallow.