As we step into 2017, we’ll pretty much be wading into uncharted political territory. For some, the major events of 2016 have been the breathe of fresh air they’ve been desperate for – but for others, it’s felt like being the only sober person in a car with a drunk person at the steering wheel.
Until very recently in history, the most influential musical eras were explicitly defined by the political and philosophical mood of the decade – from Bob Dylan’s oppositional voice to the Vietnam war in the 1960s, to the revolutionary hip hop of the late 1980s and the riot grrrl punk of the 1990s.
Great art has often erupted out of political and cultural tensions. Dadaism was a visceral response to the horrors of World War I and the ideologies many Dadaists believed were responsible. A more recent example is Bansky, whose artistic commentary shines a light on the daily grind of the modern precariat and rails against the social stratification that has come to define the noughties.
A cursory glance over historical data on the collective sentiment before and during a major cultural shift indicates that we’re currently in the midst of something pivotal. Perhaps we accidentally slipped into Bizarro Land, or maybe the changes ahead will ultimately shape society for the better. Either way, we’re in this now.
Empirically speaking, creativity finds its muse in the type of disarray that has come to define 2016. The current climate is nothing if not in disarray, and for the filmmaking folk among us, this is a nothing if not an opportunity to be inspired. Filmmaker Sarah Clift crafted an incredibly witty and touching story about a mother’s love around the politics of Trump and his divisive racial rhetoric, for example, which you can watch here. Sarah’s work is what I’m hoping will be the first of many to draw on the tensions of the year as inspiration for outstanding cinema.
And not just that – in uncertain times, the rest of society looks to the creative souls among us to articulate our feelings, provide a cathartic outlet, remind us of the bigger picture or lend us some momentary escapism. If the results of this year’s major political events have left you feeling less than positive, let them inspire you to create subversive, unifying, mobilising, passionate and thought-provoking cinema.