Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Venus Conjunct Uranus, Open Mic Censorship, and the Apolitical Arts Scene

Venus (arts) is currently conjunct Uranus (sudden events, upheaval, community, radical), and a 15-year-old from a cover band just tried to censor me at an open mic that I was instrumental in organizing and promoting.

I couldn't make this stuff up at this point.

This was the third open mic we had put on. I was an original organizer and put many, many (unpaid) hours into organizing, promoting, social media, local media, liaising with the public library, photography, videography, and even the writing and creation of a 40-page Open Mic Nights Zine to be sold to raise funds for the open mic. 

In fact, I'll blow my own horn here and say that I'm the reason this open mic has gotten organized so quickly and efficiently and why it has been running so well. I was the driver, so to speak. I've also been very supportive and encouraging of all the performers involved, and I've encouraged newbies to join us despite their nerves, as well. IE. lots of emotional energy has been expended, as well as physical/intellectual.

We had put on two smaller open mics before this one, and I read some of my work at both events to a good reception.

I've written before on the blog about my long history of being censored, something I partially associate with a tense Mercury-Black Moon Lilith contact in my natal chart. From January 29, 2019: "Mercury-Black Moon Lilith Contacts, Censorship, and Reporting From the Fringes" 

In a fit of high irony, I actually read from that article at the first open mic!

My second open mic reading was on zines, and I read an excerpt from my own recent zine on toxic oil flaring on the prairies, titled, "Dystopian Flames."

No one expressed any discomfort or problems with the information I was throwing down. 

At the third open mic, with Venus in feisty late Aries square Pluto in Capricorn and conjunct Uranus in early Taurus, I recited my folk-punk song titled, "The Nazis Got Me With Fluoride Pills," and shared some purely-factual information about Bayer and Monsanto's corporate practises. I also mentioned the upcoming worldwide march against Bayer-Monsanto on May 18 - on the very day the Venus-Uranus conjunction becomes exact at 4 degrees Taurus. 

In other words, the reading was topical. I asked to read it later in the night, toward the more "adult hours." I also said in the reading that I was sorry if people found it controversial but that I was speaking the truth. It came straight from my own personal experience with fluoroquinolone antibiotic poisoning and from my own work exposing crimes against humanity being committed by Big Pharma. It wasn't just a random political rant. I actually never go off on random political rants, to be honest.

And it seemed there was a good reception to the reading again. I was told by one performer that he "loved it," and I was thanked by an audience member for reading it. She was also interested in marching with me on May 18.

But yesterday morning, I woke up to a message from the 15-year-old (strongly influenced by her family, I assume) that had been somewhat sneakily sent to another group member without my knowledge.

"I feel that we originally came up with the idea as a way to bring artists and musicians together, and I feel that the political and opinionated topics, brought forth by [Willow], are counterproductive. I am all for having our own opinions and beliefs, however, I view the open mic as a platform of love and everyone coming together through music and art. I am also all for the spoken word, such as poetry or a story. I feel as though being aware of who your audience is is an extremely important piece to performing, and i believe that the open mics are supposed to be a family-friendly event where anyone, no matter their political views or beliefs, should be able to enjoy without becoming uncomfortable. I do know a handful of people who had this experience when [Willow] read her piece, and I think that is unfair for the audience."

There are a lot of things I think are wrong with this email, and I'll go through these now so as to energetically and verbally set some new parameters for the arts (Venus) under transiting Uranus in Taurus!

1. Art was never meant to make you feel comfortable. In fact, some of the best art has the exact opposite effect. True artists are expressing vision, perspectives, and ideas that others do not have. These are often outside the norm. They often expose things that are hidden, downplayed, or denied in mainstream culture. And yes, this can be uncomfortable, particularly for those of a more mainstream lifestyle and mindset who are usually sheltered from such things. That's art for you. That's creative expression. It isn't all designed to make you feel warm and fuzzy, and that's honestly what's great about it. It rattles people's cages, changes their perspectives, shakes them out of their complacency - or at least, it tries.

2. Art does not have to be apolitical or non-controversial. I'm not sure where that idea even came from. Art does not have to be "just for fun." The currently highly apolitical arts scene often acts as more of a diversion, a distraction, or an illusion rather than producing anything truly meaningful at a soulful or a sociopolitical level. We are in crisis times on this planet, and these times require our awareness and action. If even our art is not allowed to express this, we're in serious trouble. 

3. I'm not sure of the definition of "spoken word" being used here, but have you ever heard Jello Biafra's spoken word? From the "famous" punk band Dead Kennedys? How about a dude named Henry Rollins? Are these guys getting censored at open mics, too? So if world-famous Jello Biafra or Henry Rollins wanted to do spoken word at our lowly open mic, they wouldn't be welcome, just as I'm not welcome?

4. There are many ways to show love with creative expression and not just in "positivity"-pushing ways. (Positivity-pushing is actually a distinctly non-positive practise, in my opinon...) What I do is done purely out of love for this planet and for the living things here. That's why I care enough to do this (often very heavy and very unsupported) work. That's why I work so hard to expose the people and power schemes that are hurting us, while educating people on this so they can protect themselves. Why do you think people like me would do decades of unpaid activist work, all while being shit on, censored, blackballed, shut out, vilified, ostracized, plagiarized, mocked, and straight-out attacked as we do it? If that isn't pure love for this Earth, I don't know what is! I don't find it "loving" to bury your head in the sand or to deny reality. I don't find it "loving" to paint people with a more hardcore message or who practise a more hardcore art form as negative or counter-productive just because they make you squirm a little. 

5. Open Mic? I think you'd better change that to Heavily-Filtered Mic. By their very nature, there's a wild card element to open mics, especially with a mixed arts open mic like this one. You don't really know who's going to get up there or what they're going to do for the crowd, and that's part of what makes it fun and interesting. If you don't like what someone is throwing down, get up and take a little walk down the street for 10 or 20 minutes until they're done. Go have a smoke. Go answer an email on your phone. Make your own political statement by walking out! You will not always love or even like everything that comes out of an open mic (I don't, either), but you do not have the right to censor, discourage, or blackball people whose work you deem "too political," "too opinionated," or "counter-productive" to your feel-good lovefest version of the arts.

The gal who wrote that email is a phenomenal singer and musician for 15 years of age. She does rock-and-roll covers and prides herself on the fact that they do harder rock songs that people might not expect from a teen band. But I do think she's missing the entire spirit underlying the songs she's belting out. Rock-and-roll was spawned out of rebellion, non-conformity, a desire to shake up the status quo. It made a lot of people uncomfortable. It shocked a lot of people. 

This gal has received a huge amount of praise, attention, and support for her music since she was a child. Other artists are not that lucky. Not even close. She's lucky that what she produces is palatable for the mainstream. She could be fighting a daily, uphill battle with her creative expression like me and most of the other anti-establishment, freedom-fighting individuals out there.

It's my view that the apolitical mainstream arts scene is part of the reason we're in such a big mess on this planet to begin with. Writers, musicians, and artists of a more anti-establishment, intellectual, or sociopolitical bent are shut out, dismissed, or blackballed while more palatable, middle-of-the-road "art" is constantly promoted and reinforced. The more anti-establishment arts simply do not have the same public platforms or opportunities - ostracized even at a lowly open mic in a town of less than 10,000 people! And so we have a very cleansed and skewed reality being reflected back to us in the arts of the day. We have people doing covers of their favourite rock songs to great fanfare without a real understanding of the spirit underlying those songs, without the rebel heart and soul that originally spawned those works.

[Editor's note: they have now re-branded it as a "family-friendly" open mic. (???) Cleansed and filtered so as to leave no chance of disturbing anyone.)

With Venus coming together with Uranus, boundaries are certainly an issue. But there is a distinct difference between boundaries and censorship or blackballing.

We're setting the tone for a new social/relational foundation as Venus and Uranus form their first exact conjunction of the Uranus in Taurus transit, exact May 18. This is a benchmark aspect for everyone, not just for people in the arts.

However, the influence of radical (Uranus) politics in the arts (Venus) is a strong theme now. I'm not asking everyone to like what I do. I'm not asking everyone to become more radical in their thinking. I'm just asking for the place at the table that I've already earned. And so far, it has not exactly been forthcoming.

Let's hope for better times ahead on the other side of this Venus-Uranus conjunction.

YouTube video: Mercury-Black Moon Lilith Contacts and Censorship

2 comments:

Willow said...

They've now re-branded the open mic as "family-friendly" and are sweeping the censorship issue under the rug.

In other words, it's no longer an open mic, but they're still calling it an open mic.

Willow said...

I really appreciate this comment from one of WWA's wonderful patrons:

"there’s nothing more punk rock than being ostracized from your own event for being too (real) radical. keep up the amazing work."

Thank-you so much for that encouragement. :-)