Strong opinions, weakly held

Why artists tend to be liberal

This post from The Storytellers clearly explains something that I’ve known but couldn’t articulately describe for a long time. The crux of it (via Kottke):

Stories, by their nature, have some sort of conflict. Otherwise, they would be boring. Conflict, by its nature, has at least two sides. To be able to write these two sides well, the artist has to understand, deep inside, that both sides are equally human. The more he portrays the other side as human, the better the story. The less human the other side, the more flawed the story.

That puts artists on the humanistic side of most ideological battles throughout history: against racism (the other race is people, too), against slavery (slaves are people, too), for feminism (women are people, too), for the rights of children (children think and feel just like adults), against child labor, for gay rights (homosexuals are just as human), for the downtrodden, for the poor (they are just like us, only poor), against most wars (because the other side bleeds red, too, and mourns with the same pain), and against most religions (in particular, against the religions that claim its followers are ‘the chosen’ and those who are not will not get into heaven and/or are inferior in some way).


  1. ChristianPinko

    May 14, 2007 at 8:38 pm

    I was just wondering about this the other day. I can think of only one art form in which conservatives have made important contributions: comics. Think Harold Gray (Little Orphan Annie), Chester Gould (Dick Tracy), and Steve Ditko. And in the related field of animation, of course, Walt Disney is just about the greatest of all. Why conservatives are so much better in this one field than in others is beyond me.

  2. on comics….

    the stories in comics are generally, by their very nature, uni-dimensional (of course with exceptions). comics have historically portrayed pure archetypes within a framework clearly delineated conflicts. evil is evil and good is good. this simplistic parsing of the world strongly resonates with one of the segments of the population that refers to itself as “conservative”. people with this worldview have an easy time making these stories as well as finding an audience.

    on the point of the post… i think this same reason applies to why most reporters (and to a lesser degree, scientists) are perceived to be “liberal”.

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