05 March 2013

Artistic Freedom or WHAT!!

Someone once mentioned to me how can an author write like that, don’t they have any social responsibility. My instant reaction was to cringe. This was a basic comment and probably a reasonable expectation. Then why? As a writer I would only want my story to be told, my imagination to come alive on paper and my characters taking shapes and colours in the minds of people.
Would I ever subject my story to the limits of social norms and political conventions. Do I care if it doesn't meet the traditions and rules. Sometimes I wonder if authors even write for others, most only write for themselves, to bring forth their words to the world. They don’t care if people like-dislike, love-hate, it's the journey of writing like the birth of a child, your own child, more beautiful and beloved than rest of the world.

Also writers as artists can’t be limited to social responsibility, after all who will bring the change to the society. Artists are the agent of change. They don’t go by analytic, economic, scientific and social indicators. They only go by thoughts and ideas and opinions bringing about a change. In fact this is the reason that some of the authors who were criticised and hated during their life time for their work are now claimed as brilliant visionaries. There are many examples in the history of this world where writers and artists have been chastised at first for an idea and considered the great thinkers later. Anybody who thinks of Social responsibility cannot per se challenge the same social norms, unless they consider bringing in the change as the Social Responsibility.

But then again can a writer write anything - any crap and get away with it. Do we allow them the so called ARTISTIC FREEDOM which has always been a controversial but reasonable explanation for the excesses by the artists. Can a writer be at least expected to honour the individual dignity and privacy. Most biographical writers take the liberty to include other characters in their books which can overstep the private lives of others. In fact most biographies or nonfiction accounts of people have been plagued by controversies, constantly challenged and criticised in media.

So where do we draw the limits. Is it possible to go around seeking permission from everyone including the dead and long gone that “Are you OK if I publish this and this.” I am not sure anyone can draw those limits or rules of literary conventions. Certain things in life are never explicit they are always implicit like mother’s love and parental support. So is the right to human dignity and honour.

Finally a word on the ‘Censors’. If there is a freedom of right to speech and expression then what is the purpose of ‘Censors’. Do they have a job to curb the writer, the content or the audience. Are they qualified to say which content is suitable, which audience will accept it, which writer will be a good public figure. Censors are not only the qualified agencies, but also unqualified role bearers like politicians, media, public bodies, parents, teachers and seniors. They have traditionally been the judges and poll bearers of social limits. Otherwise what would be the reason of banning books or films in a particular country or state.

All this leads to only one question. Does artistic expression give you the right to hurt the sentiments of people. Well what will or won’t hurt whose or whose not sentiments is again questionable. My book may uphold my thoughts, ideas and group but it may disparage others – for that matter all religious or political books end up doing this.

So where do you draw the limits to morality, sexuality and social norms. On this just my two bits - if you are a believer ready to stand for the change, then go ahead start the fire – but be ready to fight or perish.
 
<<image credit:dribble.com>>

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