conservative activism

Silence of the Lambs

 

This drawing is in response to the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act. What a lovely title. It almost makes you feel like they’ve done something to make politicians less corrupt. What they’ve really done is tell you who you can support and how much you can give them. Don’t be fooled by the tripe about getting the money out of politics. The guys with big money on both sides can find ways around something as insignificant as a little law. They already have in most cases. All it really does is make it harder for the little guy who’s trying to follow the law to exercise his right to free speech and to vote.

Making politics more transparent and less driven by money is a load and we all know it. There’s not much else to say. We all know these guys are just trying to stay in office and keep anyone new off their turf. People who break the rules under one system will do so under any system. Legislation doesn’t change that, it just makes things harder for people who follow the law.

The imagery in this drawing illustrates the red tape of government regulation silencing the people. We do this to ourselves when we continue to vote the same people into office year after year because of party loyalty. This is just one more reason I support term limits and hope to see third party philosophies become more popular. Completed – 2007
Medium: Charcoal and ink on paper
Dimensions: 24w x 24h x 1d

Additional blogs regarding the First Amendment:

The Fairness Doctrine Looms on the Horizon

The Fairness Doctrine Looms on the Horizon, Pt.2

Frances Byrd is the National Director of Liberatchik.com, and a contributing writer at Western Free Press and FreedomWorks. Her articles and interviews have been published at Blog Bytes , Big Hollywood, and WND . Mrs. Byrd’s conceptual art and writing can be viewed at MachinePolitick.

The Hold-Up Artist

Working Title: Give Me your Money, ‘cause I can’t sell my work otherwise

This painting was inspired by a conversation I had with a performance artist one day. The general idea was that we, as artists, have a right to ‘expose’ people to our art who would not seek it out themselves. Of course, that comes with the expectation of being paid for our work, although money is evil.
The entitlement mentality reigns supreme!

I think the imagery of the painting expresses my feelings on the subject pretty well. The world owes us nothing for our art. We are not special because of our creative abilities. As with anything else, if there’s a market for a piece of art, it will sell. No government intervention is needed or appropriate. I do not support the NEA.
This piece is a companion to the paintings titled: The Gaping Maw of Entitlement and Mr. Moral Superiority. Completed – 2008

Frances Byrd is the National Director of Liberatchik.com, and a contributing writer at Western Free Press and FreedomWorks. Her articles and interviews have been published at Blog Bytes , Big Hollywood, and WND . Mrs. Byrd’s conceptual art and writing can be viewed at MachinePolitick.

How to Exorcise Conservative Thought in an Artist

This painting was inspired by several conversations I have had with other artists. The first reaction I face when describing my work and point of view is shock. Disdain or anger quickly follow. My impression is that I have no right to be conservative and that I am breaking some unspoken law by creating political work from my point of view. I suppose open-mindedness only applies to ideas that conform to the status quo. The next thing that typically happens is that I am quizzed on the minutia of American History facts and dates. Inevitably, I will not know a detail and then I am proven ignorant. This is the point at which I usually learn that the other artist used to be a professor and, therefore has an unfair advantage over me. So much for acceptance of opposing points of view. Or common civility.

I find these conversations inspirational, because they lead to all sorts of wonderful imagery. This painting was executed very quickly and I enjoyed every minute of it. I look forward to doing more work in this style. – 2008

View more art in this series on the Art Community page.

Medium: acrylic and vine charcoal on wood panel

Dimensions: 14w x 26h x 4d

Frances Byrd is the National Director of Liberatchik.com, and a contributing writer at Western Free Press and FreedomWorks. Her articles and interviews have been published at Blog Bytes , Big Hollywood, and WND . Mrs. Byrd’s conceptual art and writing can be viewed at MachinePolitick.

How do we #TakeBackOurCulture?

 

Controlling the narrative is vital to influencing our culture, but what does this mean? Does it mean wresting the culture from the progressives’ cold, dead hands and never allowing open discussion again? No, it does not. It means demanding, fighting for, and creating an environment where everyone has the opportunity to express their views in the arts and entertainment industries.
Any attempt to completely silence opposing views will only lead to a severe pendulum-swing of public support for the opposition. It is also vital that we resist the urge to be petty and vindictive. This kind of expression may win you points with your peers, but it reflects poorly on our movement in the long term. We are not here to preach to the choir. That is not how minds are changed or how meaningful impact on society is made.

With that idea in mind, how do you get started? Every artist has a different style, different interests, and different preferences for medium. I would suggest that you figure out what you like to work with first. Next, hone your focus. If you try to tackle too many ideas in one piece of art, you will likely end up with something difficult to understand. Decide which ideas or issues are most important to you, then do the research. This is particularly important if you are creating conceptual art or a documentary. Facts are incontrovertible and invaluable. However, your biggest challenge here will come from developing interesting and impactful iconography and/or a story line that interests the viewer. Don’t slap a bunch of statistics and a graph together and call it done. You need to make it interesting as well as informative.

What is MachinePolitick?

My personal work has developed immensely over the last decade that I have been creating intentionally political art. Much of my initial inspiration was based on personal attacks heaped upon me by my peers in the art community who were offended by the idea that anyone creative could be pro-American or Libertarian-minded. I’m sure you have all had some kind of similar experience for expressing conservative views in your own fields. I have been called everything from ignorant to a Nazi. I have been told it would be nice if I just painted something pretty instead of all this angry political work – yet everywhere I go, I see support for progressive, anti-American art, music and movies. These experiences were the main impetus for me becoming a conceptual political artist.
A secondary motivation was the lack of initiative being taken on our side. We seem all fired up and ready to go now, but twelve years ago, openly conservative and libertarian political artists were virtually non-existent. There has always been a lot of noise on our side about how much progressive art sucks, how dishonest and detrimental modern art is, and the open hostility of the art community toward outsiders; but there was very little being done to change the culture publicly, and even less support for those who were taking this task on.
Not being of a mind to play along to get along, I started thinking about how I could inject a political message into my art without having it come across as trite or boring. It took a few years to figure out how to transform facts and research into iconography that would appeal to people. It took somewhat longer to learn how to make the work more subtle, so that it didn’t make people angry at first glance. Though I don’t care all that much whether or not people like may art or take anything away from it, I realize that minds won’t be changed if people walk away angry. I also started to realize that I was learning more about the things I oppose and find offensive by talking to people who had a progressive world-view. You can do research all day long, but it doesn’t help you understand how people feel or how they can justify oppression and redistribution. I realized, one day, that I can’t create in a vaccum, and that I was finding inspiration for art in conversations with people who were often quite hostile.

Making it Pretty

Give-Me-Liberty.jpg

One day my husband told me that he thought people need to be inspired by art, not always hit over the head with an idea. That was the turning point at which I realized I needed to find ways to be more subtle in the larger body of my work, as well as find ways to make art that was beautiful AND meaningful. This was the point at which I developed my Liberty icon and began repeating it in my work. I realized that, as angry as I was at being attacked and ridiculed, that I was missing the point of my own art and ideals about cultural change. So, this is the point at which we begin to discuss the how and why of my art.

Layering

Don't Cry for Me Amerika
Don’t Cry for Me Amerika

I have a propensity for research and an overwhelming compulsion to cram it all into a painting. This is why you will see many layers within my art, often including words. I like to stick the reference material right in the art for you to read, if you’re paying close enough attention to notice it.
This techniques gives a visual complexity to the art and draws the viewer in. It conveys ideas and boring facts quickly, without taking away from the aesthetic of the piece or beating the viewer over the head with an obvious message. Specific words and phrases can be highlighted or obscured to impact the message of the art and insure that the viewer ‘gets it’, even if they don’t realize it.

Iconography

LetThemEatCake

This is a visual tool I have developed and used extensively over the last few years. It is vital for several reasons and likely harkens back to my days at SCAD earning a degree in Illustration. I love to tell a story. I love to stylize and embellish. And I find that this technique broadens my audience considerably. People are not immediately sure what the painting is about, and often, they put their own spin on the meaning of the image. That’s okay, because the underlying message is still there.

This is particularly useful in reaching across the isle to change minds. We have to learn to engage people in ways they can relate to, get them to take us seriously, and most importantly give our views consideration. Iconography conveys messages sub-consciously without eliciting visceral reactions. Subtle elements like words, symbols, phrases, and graphics encourage closer examination and open discourse.
Most importantly, if you develop a strong icon that resonates with people, you have the potential to shift the culture, and ultimately, change it. The repetition of images and ideas reinforces an idea or belief. With repetition comes recognition, and with recognition comes familiarity. Hopefully, this leads to better overall understanding and interest. There’s a fine line between propaganda and marketing, and we’re talking about both here.
Though it takes time and perseverance, people begin to recognize your work. Once that happens you have the potential to reach a far wider audience. If you build a reputation around your work for integrity and consistency of quality and messaging, you will begin to earn support within your community for your work. Once this happens, you should strive to help others get established and lead by example. One of the biggest falsehoods in the art community is the idea that we’re all competing against one another. There is plenty of room for all of us; and the support that conservative and libertarian artists need is growing. The idea that we need to fight over a finite ‘pie’ is self-serving and ultimately detrimental to our movement. If we build associations, find ways to show our work together, and network as a group, we have the potential for a larger impact and return on the quality of our culture.
#TakeBackOurCulture
#IgnoreTheEstablishment
#SupportTheArtYouWant
#BeTheSolution

Let’s Talk Solutions

I recently read an article shared with me by a friend about the transition of the office of President to that of pop-culture celebrity. Please read the article first, so you can fully understand my response below.

Let’s Talk Solutions

Time and time again, I read articles about the problem with culture and politics; with little or no discussion of solutions. Though this piece alludes to the necessity of getting involved in the culture, it falls short of saying how or why.

I was so excited and optimistic about our ability, on the right, to address culture when I first attended CPAC in 2011. After the first day, I was disappointed by the myopic view of the majority of people being given a voice at the event; and their petty determination to be the sole arbiters of culture. You can read more about that in my article “What I Learned at CPAC“.

When I had a second opportunity to attend the event in 2013, I thought, surely people are starting to realize how vital culture is to controlling the narrative. Conservatives quote Andrew Breitbart all the time, after all. Nope. I was told I’m too confrontational and aggressive. I was shunned because I don’t fit the mold. This, by the way, is why we fail with our youth. We need to stop trying to cram them into a pair of khakis and a blue blazer, and listen to what they have to say.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s get back on point. Do we need a pop-culture president? No. Do we have one? Yes. The precedent has been set, and we can cry about it, or we can do something about it. Does that mean we need a glitzy campaign in 2016? No. It means we need to use the culture to spread ideology, move people’s hearts, and impact the national perspective.

Let’s have a serious conversation on the impact of culture on mainstream ideas and political progress. Let’s stop complaining about the Hope poster by Shephard Fairey, and have a serious discussion of why it was affective and how we can utilize such means to promote smaller government and individual liberty.

The first step requires honesty on our part. Do we truly want smaller government, less spending and self-reliance? If we’re going to be honest, we’d have to accept that most of the people in D.C. are not truly interested in these concepts, much less acting upon them. It’s time for an ideological house-cleaning. I don’t mean personal attacks and infighting. I mean silence. Stop giving support to those who don’t share our goals. Work with those who do. Promote their ideas and records. What we don’t say is just as important as what we do say. I’m not demanding lock-step adherence to dogma. I’m saying figure out where you have common ground and work together on those issues with each group, candidate, individual. We should’t be demanding talking points, we should be taking back our culture and our country.

How do we shift from a presidential popularity contest, to the concept of conducting a job interview? We find ways to illustrate and promote the proper role of the Presidency. Diplomacy and statesmanship. Legislative record. Real-world experience. Connection to and understanding of the American people. Take the candidates off their Ivy-League pedestals. Make them dust off the glamour of Martha’s Vinyard and the Lobbyist’s boardrooms. Demand principle in action.

Simultaneously, we need to create work that inspires civic engagement. We need to teach people America’s history through images and entertainment. We need to revitalize national pride and dignity. We need to inspire people to take back our country and raise their voices for tomorrow’s generations. We need to give them reasons to believe in America and reasons to hope.

#TakeBackOurCulture
#IgnoreTheEstablishment
#SupportTheArtYouWant
#BeTheSolution

Art for Liberty: In Defense of Human Rights

*Detail photo of the painting I am currently working on for my donation to the 2015 Family Outdoor Expo*

ProgressDetail1

**The images below are my donations to the 2014 event**

Stand Up

Stand Up and Be Counted Among the Just

12 x 12″, acrylic on wood panel, 2014

 

Moral Outrage

 

A Moral Outrage

12 x 12″, acrylic on wood panel, 2014

A cultural approach to Human Rights issues

I am an artist. Until now, I have worked predominantly on patriotic and political themes. Some of you know me from Liberatchik, others from MachinePolitick; perhaps from both. You may be familiar with my monthly artist reviews of work by pro-American artists, or my occasional blog post about culture and propaganda. I will always work on these themes because I love my country deeply and hope to use my art to inspire love  and respect for our Republic.

More recently, though, I have felt compelled to start using my art to help people who cannot help themselves; who live under truly oppressive and subhuman circumstances. With all the talk of slavery in the public forum lately, comparably has been said about the human trafficking industry. This must change.

I understand the power of art to move men’s minds and impassion their hearts. I hope you understand this as well. I understand that we, as individuals, have a moral responsibility to help those in need on a personal level. I hope you understand this as well. There is already a strong current of resistance building, of abolitionists, to fight the atrocities of human trafficking. You probably have an organization in your area. There are certainly national and global groups you could join or support. Please consider doing so.

I understand that art has the ability to capture the imagination. One of the most affective ways to do this is to develop iconography. Make a visible connection that elicits an emotional connection to the viewer.
The issue of human trafficking and sexual slavery is so horrendous, that most people choose not to understand the magnitude of this international industry. It is more convenient to speak of slavery in terms of something that happened long ago, or is at least an issue in some third-world country, than to admit that it happens right here at home. When you admit that it is real, widespread, and local, you realize that there is a market for such an attrocity; and that is very unsettling, indeed.
It is easy to shut down a web link or turn off a newscast, but once you have seen a piece of art depicting the atrocity, it lives on in your mind indefinitely.

This is not a call for gruesome and graphic works of art. I do not approve of shock art for any purpose. It is a call for advancing understanding of the issue and offering support to the victims and organizations trying to help them piece their lives back together.

In my own limited work, I have attempted to convey the horror of the situation while simultaneously highlighting and upholding the very real solutions available. I have tried to humanize the victims and inspire an understanding of the solutions. Most importantly, I am appealing to you, the viewer, to get involved.

***Images of the work in progress for this painting can be found on the page for my booth at a local shop, Libertas Americana***

Pinterest for MachinePolitick Art

#TakeBackOurCulture
#IgnoreTheEstablishment
#SupportTheArtYouWant
#BeTheSolution

Frances Byrd is the National Director of  Liberatchik.com and a contributing writer at Western Free Press and FreedomWorks. Her art can be viewed at MachinePolitick.com and LibertasAmericana. She has written for the Big Dawg Music Radio Blog and Breitbart’s Big Hollywood. 

 

Contact: frances@machinepolitick.com

Horses, Patriotism and Art Therapy

***The featured image for this post is one of the paintings I donated in 2014 to help raise money for Take Aim At Human Trafficking.***

Five short years ago, I partnered with a wonderful woman in Pennsylvania to host an event to promote patriotism in the arts. Because I live in Georgia, this event did not become a annual project, but it still comes to mind on occasion. As I get ready to embark on a new partnership to use my art to help bring social change to my area (fighting the human trafficking industry), I thought it would be a good time to post an example of how art can be used in a public venue to promote good. The banners shown below will be available for purchase at my booth during the Family Outdoor Expo on July 11th in Gainesville, Georgia. Other items that will be available include: fine art, painted furniture and boxes, primitives, hand-printed cards, fine art prints, and work by guest artists who donated items for the fund raising auction.

For additional information, please contact Frances Byrd at frances@machinepolitick.com 

Custom Banners

Please contact frances@machinepolitick.com or 678-923-4999 to negotiate commission of banners. You will need to specify size and deadline when ordering custom work. Pricing will be determined on an individual basis according to deadline, size, complexity of composition and desired materials.

PPP 008 PPP PPP 010

This image is the property of MachinePolitick. Permission is required for any form of use.

The Patriot Pony Project

Performance Art Event

June 12th, 2010

Artist: Frances Byrd

Contributing Partners: Whispering Winds Horse Farm and Horses 4 Heroes

Farm Art 003

Claire's Barn2

Claire's Barn3

The Patriot Pony Project

The Patriot Pony Project is an equine based performance art exhibition. The project is a partnership between Frances Byrd of MachinePolitick and Claire LeJeune Kemp of Whispering Winds ; designed to promote patriotism and liberty through the utilization of a series of living canvases. The beautiful horses of Whispering Winds will be hand painted with non-toxic materials by Frances. Each painted horse will be a living manifestation of an original piece of art by the artist, designed specifically for this live event. There will be a short description of the project’s formation and the artist’s passion for Liberty and America as well as a description of her larger projects to promote those ideas through her art.

Claire LeJeune Kemp,  Certified Equine Specialist will give a demonstration on the objectives of the Patriot Pony Project. Fulfilling Connections newest workshop! The Patriot Pony is for children and families of our brave military.  Our staff and our horses, the facilitators, teach social skills through special training. Painting on them is just one of  many tasks students are assigned with their partner, the horse. The real power of the horse is “connection”!   Join us as we will be kicking off our Patriot Pony Workshop. Many of our military families are struggling with how to cope while their loved one is missing during their life  – causing trauma, especially to the children.  We will nurture healthy choices and work with families, schools,  and therapists in a positive,  and safe learning environment.

 The audience will then be invited to ask questions, tour the facilities at Whispering Winds, meet the staff, and view fine art in the horse barn.

For additional information, please contact Frances Byrd at frances@machinepolitick.com

 

 

 

My Mission to #TakeBackOurCulture

I didn’t realize it at the time, but over a decade ago, I was laying the foundation for a movement to #TakeBackOurCulture. For years, I had been struggling with the desire to create art that would sell and painting things that I found inspiring or meaningful. My passion and inspiration took me in the direction of meaningful work, but the more involved I became in the art community, the more I realized that, as a libertarian, I was an outsider.

Two articles by my partner at Liberatchik describe the way I was treated, time and time again, when it became obvious to my peers that I did not share their social and political views.

Stunning piece: Ten Reasons Why I Am No Longer a Leftist
The Top Three Reasons Why Liberals Hate Conservatives

Over six years ago, Christopher found me, compliments of the internet, and asked me to help him find other artists who were going through the same things and help him build a community where all of us could show and discuss our art and ideas. We have gone through many metamorphoses over the years and grown exponentially. Today, there are over 40 artists working with us in some capacity, though all do not share their art in our public forums. 

Below is my artist statement, which hasn’t changed all that much over the years. I look forward to the day when I can work in my studio or write, as the mood strikes me, without the need to fight for equal representation in the arts and culture or open-mindedness and honesty from the cultural elite.

Artist Statement:

In our current political climate, a new vanguard of artists are beginning to raise their voices through works depicting previously unexpressed (at least openly) conservative political views. As an individual expression, political art is a powerful tool for political activism, and arguably crucial to fomenting political change. Propaganda techniques are indispensable. Whether or not you agree with the artist whose work you are viewing, you should be able to respect their right to free speech.
As artists, I believe we have a duty and responsibility to put forth opposing points of view to that of the establishment, whomever they may be. We need to combat lies and misrepresentations with verifiable facts and expose the treachery of blindly following ‘approved’ ideas and agendas. It is time that those of us who still hold the individual supreme stand up and make our voices heard. We now face a turning point in the history of America, where we can succumb to the whims of the State and willingly accept bondage, or lead the way to a Liberty Revolution with the purpose of restoring America to a Constitutional Republic. Mrs. Pelosi once sneered, in a statement meant to squash open dialogue, “Are you serious?”; I say “Yes Ma’am, I Am”.
As libertarians and conservatives, what should we be promoting through our art? Self-reliance, personal responsibility, a return to the principles of individual liberty and limited government. Freedom over tyranny. Reverence for beauty in reality and imagination, and the use of ugliness sparingly, as a means to illustrate a point, not an end goal.
We must define our principles clearly, then promote them effectively and repeatedly in ways that are quickly and easily understood. We have the ability to make a lasting and significant impact in this war of ideas, if only we can find the nerve and the strength to oppose the status quo.
Art, regardless of genre, has the ability to reduce complex concepts to easily grasped ideas, raise people and ideas to the status of icons, and reach wide audiences through a variety of means. It is my goal, through my personal art, to promote the ideas of Liberty and individual integrity. I believe that America is a great country and patriotism should not be a stigma. There is nothing selfish in taking pride in one’s accomplishments. I hope that America will one day return to a truly free nation, because it has not been so in my lifetime. I want to leave America better than I found it. My art is my tool for shaping that future.

Machine Politick: Art by Category

Editorial Work

Art Community

Illustrating the Constitution

Liberty

Murals and Public Art Projects

Political Figures

The American Crow Series

Writing

Creative Conservative Action Tools

#TakeBackOurCulture

Liberatchik

Physical Location

Libertas Americana

 

Libertas Americana Grand Opening

I have partnered with a local antique store to open a mini-gallery offering a new line of primitives, hand-painted signs and painted furniture, as well as my paintings. Who would have thought I was too political for the big-city art scene, but it appears I needed to move to the ‘middle of nowhere’ to generate support for my work.

I have been very encouraged and flattered by the level of curiosity and support I have been given since moving here and becoming established as a local artist. I have met people on the street who have heard of my work and been welcomed to the store by other shop owners on main street. It proves, yet again, that those nasty stereotypes we like to cling to are often quite misplaced – country folk aren’t simple or ignorant, and they do like art and welcome it in their community, as long as its purpose is not to offend them. I am looking forward to sharing more stories as I become established in the community.

Please check back for my interview with Katie Lynn Griffin of The Paper.

If you’re in the Athens area, take a 20 minute detour up to Commerce and stop in at the shop to see my new work and the wonderful collection of antiques, vintage items and folk art on display at Our Town Antiques.

I sold a painting!!

 

Wvane

Spinning with the Winds of Change

Completed: 2004

Medium: Oil on canvas.

Dimensions: 14w x 26h x 3d

Description:

This painting is a companion piece to Empty Behind the Mask(2005). Both were started at the same time, but this was my favorite of the two and was finished more quickly. This piece is also a dig at Kerry’s lack of integrity or consistency. The full rant can be found with the other painting. I have included a few more articles for background on this piece.

Patriotic Symbolism in the Arts

On this Memorial Day holiday, I am drawn to consider all of the lives lost over the generations of American history, in the pursuit of freedom; at home and abroad. I wonder what it is about contemporary American culture that makes the simple concept of Liberty, something everyone should relate to in a positive way a political issue, inspiring the President and members of Congress to label civilians terrorists, making one a pariah in certain circles and the whipping boy of the media and Hollywood elite in the public forum.

Then I think back to the founding of this nation, the great sacrifices made by those who would not be tyrannized in the name of false security; who made hard choices and great sacrifices to see their ideals realized for an entire nation. I think of the fight to end slavery that contributed to a war that nearly destroyed this nation and the repercussions which are still felt in parts of this nation today.

I think of all the times our soldiers have gone out into the world in defense of others, whom they do not know, based on an ideal of service, self-sacrifice and honor – to help those who cannot help themselves. The fault for misplaced engagements and ill-advised meddling falls with the bureaucrats who reduce these great individuals to numbers, not in the men and women themselves. It is for these reasons and many others that their sacrifices deserve our remembrance and respect.

Restore our Republic Now, Restore Liberty for our Future

Liberty for a New Generation by Frances Byrd

All of these things, and many more personal experiences, are the impetus for my patriotic and liberty themed art. American Flags, Liberty, eagles, historic quotes and pop-culture references are not just the inspiration for my paintings, they are often components of the underlying design. They are my attempt to define the positive ideals that are the foundation of our culture and our nation.

Being an artist with an illustration degree, I tend to break things down into terms of graphics and quotes. Maybe that is why I see the significance of having an icon to promote ideas. The American flag is a bold and universally recognizable symbol. It can and should be used to promote patriotism and inspire perseverance. How do we make this happen? We display it proudly and shamelessly. It not only sends a message to those who despise America that we will not be silenced, it sends a message to our fellow patriots that they are not alone. More importantly, it tells those who protect our liberty that we appreciate their efforts and sacrifices on our behalf. The image of Liberty is as culturally significant as the ideas it represents; if for no other reason than the iconographic importance of a national symbol.

The shining light of her torch guides those seeking freedom and greater opportunity. Her grand scale symbolizes the strength of a nation, built not on the imperialism that has driven other nations to conquest, but as a haven for those who want to improve their lives.

George-Washington-vs.-Godzilla

George Washington vs Godzilla by Taylor Overby

Over the last few years, a movement has been slowly building that incorporates these themes and ideals into cultural manifestations. There are now, several groups and many more individuals, exploring these concepts in their art. Contrary to what the left would have you believe, they are not all talentless hacks regurgitating tired themes. Some of the work is quite contemporary, and much of it is of excellent quality. You should take the time to seek it out, and more importantly, support the artists creating it.

A Gown for Lady Liberty

A Gown for Lady Liberty by Colby Stephens

 

Libertarian themes abound in The Winter Soldier

I finally made it out to the theater over the Easter weekend to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I was suitably surprised and impressed by it’s predecessor, and the related Avengers films, to make an exception to my general distaste for viewing most things Hollywood. Add to that, my general enthusiasm for all things super-hero and the fact that I have a pre-teen aged son, and it was practically inevitable that I would carve some time out of my schedule to give it a go.

 

Happily, The Winter Soldier eschews the sappy patriotism one might expect from a film centered around a character from the Greatest Generation. Overall, it’s a good action film, and nothing else need be said. But, being a political artist myself, I tend to view art and entertainment through a lens of my own perspective – as do most when scrutinizing art, whether they like to admit it or not. For those of you who simply enjoy your films at face value, and couldn’t care less about the deeper meaning(or my take on it), here is where you would likely move on to the next review. However, having read several reviews that clearly took the opposing stand, I feel quite justified in a little deconstructionism, if you will. Feel free to jump into the comments with your own perspective, as I plan to watch the movie at least one more time before laying my opinions to rest.

 

Captain America’s character becomes a bit more complex in The Winter Soldier than it was in The First Avenger, though it stays true to character. A dichotomy develops as we get to know Romanov’s character better. Nick Fury is dead, then not dead; trusted, then suspect. The obvious bad guys are the politicians, mercenaries and pirates scattered throughout the movie. The less obvious villains occupy all sides of the struggle, swimming in a grey area of philosophy and morality, or lack thereof – perpetrated in the interest of the ‘greater good’. The fate of several million people hinges on the success of an impossible mission involving Captain America, Romanov and The Falcon. The heavy, staccato beat of the music punctuates the more intense action scenes, creating an appropriately tense mood.

 

Libertarian themes abound throughout the movie, though some would prefer to call them fundamentalist paranoia. The Winter Soldier is a victim of the machinations of a power-hungry elite, bent on the establishment of a New World Order, who will use any means necessary to achieve their ends. People become statistics; their lives subject to elimination if their actions or thoughts are deemed inappropriate by the powers that be. Both sides of the conventional power structures are culpable. It is no surprise, of course, with Joss Wedon playing a part in the revival of the Marvel/Avengers genre. Geeks like me have long been fans of Firefly, his cult classic depicting space cowboys as the underdogs to an oppressive Alliance.

 

Of course, the plot, like life and war, is not black and white. It is subtle, yet complex, and the messaging does not beat you over the head. In fact, many viewers might ask, what the heck am I talking about. They just enjoyed the film. And that is as it should be. That is, in fact, much to its credit.

 

Captain America is the quintessential conflicted soldier. He fights for his nation because he believes in her values and principles, but he has come to realize that the people giving the orders can’t always be trusted – even when you like them, or think you should. He has given up everything in service to his nation, only to realize that the lines have blurred and his mission is no longer clear – at least as it is presented by his superiors. Much of the underlying struggle centers around his efforts to understand how different this new century he was thrust into is from his own, and why he was brought here to fight a war he doesn’t know enough about to understand which side he should be on.

 

The Winter Soldier, on the other hand, is purely a tool – emblazoned with a bold red star on the mechanical arm which becomes, as the movie progresses, a symbol of his degradation by the elite who control him. I can’t help being reminded of a similar tool in the person of Che Guevara, but I digress. Unfortunately, The Winter Soldier also turns out to be Captain America’s childhood friend and combat partner, Bucky – long thought dead, but cruelly resurrected by the enemy as an assassin and catalyst for the implementation of their totalitarian utopia.

 

We are left, not unexpectedly, with questions unanswered and the promise of a sequel at the end. I am happily looking forward to the next episode in the story of Captain America and The Winter Soldier.

 

Frances Byrd is the National Director of Liberatchik.com, and a contributing writer at Western Free Press and BlogBytes. Her articles have also been published at Big Hollywood . Mrs. Byrd’s conceptual art and writing can be viewed at MachinePolitick.

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