Artistic Expression vs. Death

I know. Heavy title for such a silly woman as me. But I do have my moments, and this article caught my eye:

http://washingtonexaminer.com/entertainment/movies/2011/08/threat-letterman-muslim-forum

Apparently, a radical jihadist, ( I don’t want to refer to him as muslim, as that then places this evil mindset on a group of people who do not necessarily believe this way.) has threatened David Letterman on an al-Qaeda forum. The frequent poster made the threat because of  jokes Letterman made regarding the recent drone bombing of an al-Qaeda leader and Osama Bin Laden.

This is not incredibly surprising, since many, many people from world leaders on down have been threatened by al-Qaeda, radical Christians, Jews and any other religion, group and so on that you can come up with. All for statements or activities they found kill-worthy. The disturbing part of this though, is that the article’s author concludes their story with a recap of other artists who have been threatened or killed by muslims – or in the name of al-Qaeda – for their artistic expression.

One of the more notorious incidents like this would be the fallout from Salman Rushdie‘s novel “The Satanic Verses” of 1988, that forced the author into hiding for years out of fear for his life. Last year, the creators of South Park were threatened, and previously, so was a Dutch cartoonist.

The one that really struck me however, was the story of the filmmaker Theo van Gogh. He made a film that was a fictional study of abused Muslim women entitled “Submission”. Apparently, a Dutch muslim who was infuriated by this film killed the filmmaker in the streets. I really started to dwell on this. Here was someone who went to the monumental effort to put together a film, ( I don’t know how people do this – I get overwhelmed just at the thought. Turning on the computer everyday is epic enough for me) had the need to express this story, get it out there, and then lost their life solely because of their artistic expression. 

Was it worth it? I wonder if those close to Mr.van Gogh are angry that he put himself in that position, or if they applaud his courage to stand up for what he believed. I imagine it’s a mixture of both. I have no idea if I would have the cojones to put myself out there in such a way, and that bothers me.

There are things that I want to write about that I know some people might find offensive, will vehemently disagree with, or laugh at me for. I doubt anything I might write would become a death sentence – but who knows? Am I willing to put myself out there unabashedly and freely as an artist? When I was a young pup on the rock music scene, it was all about expression, man. This is how I FEEL, deal with it. But I’m not on Sunset Blvd. anymore.

Theo van Gogh’s film is something I want to watch. Had I been aware of it under normal circumstances, I would have wanted to watch it anyway. But now, it has another association with it. I want to see a film that I imagine a man had no reservations about creating, because his artistic expression was more important than any other consideration. I wonder if that still applies to me?

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