What's the difference between art and politics?
The question occurred to me as I left the theater after seeing the surprising new hit film "Juno."
With presidential politics taking an unfortunately predictable turn in the direction of the gutter, I took a break from it all and went to the movies.
I don't spend much time going to films, but "Juno" seduced me because of its accolades and because of the subject matter. It's about teen pregnancy, the abortion option considered and rejected, and adoption.
Most of what appears in our theaters is anything but art, which is one reason why I spend so little time going. But "Juno" is different. It's a powerful film, despite being made on a low budget and having no big name stars. And it conveys important truths about realities of the American society we live in today.
But to digress to my opening question, I think the difference between the artist and the politician is that the former communicates and the latter manipulates. The artist's communication aims to make a reality which we share clearer and more evident. The politician's communication aims to get me to do what he or she wants.
There is excitement in the "pro-life" community about "Juno," because the 16-year-old high school girl in the film, Juno, decides against abortion and gives birth to her child -- the product of a sexual escapade with a high school friend.
It's a pro-life film, but by default, not by intent. I do not believe that the producers or the young woman who wrote the screenplay had any political agenda.
Yet, life triumphs. And it triumphs under dismal circumstances which reflect, tragically, all too common and unattractive truths which define our society today.
Listening to the film's dialogue, you can't help but feel that it doesn't fit a 16-year-old girl. It's too mature and too cynical.
It reflects a teenager who has grown up too fast because life's complexities and responsibilities have been prematurely dumped on her. She lives in a society populated by adults who have turned their backs on responsibilities that once defined what it means to be an adult.
The idea that wisdom exists assumes that there is something true. If you believe such a thing, so it's something that distinguishes adults from children. Adults have it, having received it from their parents and teachers, and children don't, but receive it through something called education.