October 2, 2008

Pig Lips and Potty Mouths

It has been a long while since I have added to this blog. My time has been taken up by exhibition preparations, finishing up my first book, and being suddenly called to serve as a temporary adjunct professor at the local university. Autumn is also the time of year that yard work becomes particularly time-consuming. All of these pursuits were rewarding but left little time for blogging. And even in those rare moments when I was free, it became hard to know exactly where to begin again with that thread of thoughts for the cyberworld.
Surely there is much to talk about, with our country on the verge of an economic disaster and the public about to make choices in what is the most interesting political race I’ve ever known. But what inspired me to sit and paint in my studio again was a strange little article by Matt Taibbi that a friend sent me a link to recently. Taibbi ‘s editorial, if one can even call it that, was about how the vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin reflects a certain segment of the American electorate. He raises some legitimate questions about her seeming lack of preparedness for public office. He is correct as well, I think, when he takes issue with Americans whose tendency it is to vote on the basis of what seems comfortingly familiar to them rather than with a mind towards who actually has the public’s best interest at heart and who has the experience to carry through sound decisions.
The problem I have with his article, however, is in his presentation. Assailing the meanness of what he purports to be the conservative, anti-intellectual right, he rolls out a veritable machine-gun blast of profanity. It strikes me as something of an oxymoron to rail against thoughtlessness by using the language of an inebriated thug. Yet this is not untypical in the world of popular writing - especially in the unregulated cyberworld of You Tube and blogs. And on-line writing is tending to be even more vitriolic as the passions of an election year fire up.
During a long but pleasant day in Charleston, after having caught up on paperwork, shipping, and other duties, I had a chance to reflect on the words and images that articles such as those written by Matt Taibbi conjure up. The phrase that came to mind was one coined by the nannies on those popular television shows "Super Nanny" and "Nanny 911." "Potty Mouth," I believe was their charming epithet for youngsters who could not control dirty language - most likely learned from their parents, perhaps some of whom write for Rolling Stone magazine.
In the course of my painting, I was also reflecting on how easily the popular media distracts our attention from crucial central issues by running us down rabbit holes of political gaffs and trivia. The question of what exactly the phrase "putting lipstick on a pig" meant and to whom it referred is just one instance. So my little painting, "Pig lips and Potty Mouths" sums up my sentiments on media diversions and lack of introspection in popular writing.
Perhaps we would all be served better at this time by reading Barack Obama’s Audacity of Hope as well as John McCain’s Faith of My Fathers and Character is Destiny: Inspiring Stories Every Young Person Should Know & Every Adult Should Remember, and relegate the Potty Mouths to the restroom sidelines.

No comments: