Political neutrality is for OnlyFans and if you’re not on there, you need to lead with your values. The latest buzzword in marketing is “values-based marketing”. That is, showcasing your work in a way that appeals to your customers’ values. It’s everywhere – content creators on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, or Facebook infuse their titles with their opinions. And I want to share my thoughts on why doing this is good for you.
The other day, I read a report about Donald J Trump being called a p***y a** b***h by Chrissy Teigen on Twitter and almost having her account shut down by the White House. Not a fan of hers and this post is not about her. But I thought it was really important for artists to not be wishy-washy about expressing our values in a public space.
Living and breathing our values builds trust and that in turn helps our audience to find us. We should take a position on certain matters. Our audience wants to know what we think because they want to know why they are supporting us.
Political neutrality refers to the idea that an individual should not promote a particular political ideology or agenda. A position like this is certainly appropriate for public institutions such as the judiciary, law enforcement agencies, and civil service. These institutions must maintain fairness and objectivity in decision-making. They are expected to work without bias towards any particular political party or agenda.
However, for artists in a commercial space, achieving complete political neutrality should feel unnatural, because our personal or ideological leanings directly influence our work. Naturally, the main disadvantage of being politically neutral is lack of advocacy. By remaining politically neutral, we may miss opportunities to gain support for causes or policies that we believe in.
As artists, we have the means to express ideas in ways that will appeal to a wide cross section of society. If a cause or policy is in the public interest or if there are vulnerable groups who are affected, we should speak up. Being an artist is a privilege and we must always remember the advantages that creative expression affords us.
According to recent business research, being politically neutral may prevent us from making good business decisions. One negative consequence of fence-sitting is perceived lack of accountability. Political neutrality is often a way to avoid making tough decisions. An audience will notice that. This can be particularly problematic for a highly visible brand. Quite a number of popular artists have been criticised because of their decision to remain silent on matters that their audiences care about.
Remember the Balenciaga ad scandal? Celebrities were called out for not speaking against the inappropriate presentation of children in that infamous ad campaign. And Taylor Swift got pummelled by her fans for not speaking up when the United States was politically split down the middle.
This brings me to my concern that in the wider society, political neutrality is a type of privilege. For example, some people want to signal that they are comfortable within the status quo. They can use neutrality to look away from people who are being marginalised or exploited. Or, neutrality could be a mask they use to hide their true beliefs while lobbing rhetorical salvos at their ideological opponents.
Many artists will avoid sharing their values or taking a political stance. It is natural to be scared of being called names on social media. But if your values are beneficial to society, being opinionated is good for everyone. Here are some ideas you can think about:
- Expressing values and beliefs: We often have deeply held values and beliefs about social, economic, and political issues. Taking a political stance allows us to support causes and policies that align with those values and beliefs. We gain support in return and build communities as a result.
- Participating in democracy: Participating in the democratic process doesn’t only mean voting. It means having a say in how society is governed. By engaging in political discourse, voting, and advocating for causes, we can help shape public policies and decisions that affect our lives and the lives of others. That’s the power of influence and how it should be used.
- Making a difference: By taking a political stance and advocating for causes and policies that align with their values, artists can make a positive difference in the world and contribute to social and political change. Isn’t “changing the world” why we are all here?
- Holding leaders accountable: By taking a political stance, and publishing our beliefs in the public domain, we can hold elected officials and other leaders accountable for their actions. This can help ensure that leaders are responsive to the needs and interests of their constituents and are held accountable for any negative impacts of their policies.
Taking a political stance does not necessarily mean aligning yourself with a political party or ideology. Instead, it means advocating for specific causes that you believe will have a positive impact on society.
If there is a cause that you feel passionate about, gather your thoughts and do some research. Reach out to others who have similar ideas. If your present audience does not agree with your stance, then be grateful for the chance to attract new supporters. I hope that you are fortunate, because then you will find that yours is the voice everyone has been waiting for.
Notes: Artwork for this post was generously provided by my fabulous friend, UK based 3D artist Pinxx. You can follow her on Instagram and keep up with her latest posts. And collect her artwork on Makers Place (ETH) or Objkt (tez). You’ll be happy you did. Thank you and have a fabulous week ahead.
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