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Oh What A Not-So-Lovely War

Call me biased, but my impression of politicians is that they know very little about the arts.

That's not to say I don't think politicians enjoy the arts. They are people after all (contrary to popular belief). And many people go to theatres, art galleries and concerts on a regular basis. But they don't stick their noses in and tell artists what they should be doing.

Unless, of course, you're Michael Gove, who has taken to sticking his nose into the arts as well as education.

On reading Simon Tait's article on The Stage website about Gove using the Word War 1 centenary to attack both arts and education in one breath, I was filled with the kind of face-palming despair most politicians seem to instil when they open their mouths. Except with the added kick of anger caused by the absurd closed-mindedness of it all.

It seems Gove's issue is that anything he doesn't agree with must be wrong and bad and it just shouldn't happen. So naturally, anything that goes against the institutionalised view of the war effort shouldn't be challenged. But this leaves a big question:

If we cannot question or challenge, then what is the point of art or education?

If we cannot teach young people to challenge and question, rather than to blindly follow and believe what they are told, then what kind of world will we be living in 20 years from now? Or in 2114 on the bicentenary of WW1? Similarly in the arts, how can an audience expect to be moved by work that shows them what they want to see? Or what they always see? How can society be intellectually stimulated without having its views challenged?

How can you even know what your views are until you've seen another way of thinking?

And that is why we need work like Blackadder and Oh What A Lovely War, not to spread left-wing propaganda but to show another view. A view of the horrors that war creates.

And that shouldn't be censored.

So, Michael Gove, if you don't want your views challenged, may I suggest just not going to the theatre? I doubt you will be missed.

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