Hollywood is in desperate need of new ideas. Take Sunday’s Grammy Awards, for example. If there were ever a spectacle that could simultaneously be described as demonic and trite, it would be Sam Smith’s performance of “Unholy,” which rang the final death knell for the satanic-ritual-as-art trope.
As Federalist contributor Isabelle Rosini wrote, it was as boring as it was unoriginal. Stiletto-clad devils? Latex pants? Whips? Women in cages? Bursts of flame to signify — in case it wasn’t clear enough — that Smith was singing from the pit of hell? “Been there, done that,” artists ranging from Lil Nas X to Lady Gaga would say.
And it all fell flat. Despite the media’s attempts at running interference — with all the typical Republicans–pounce framing — the awards show was decidedly uninteresting, and this points to a broader crisis within the arts world itself. There is nothing it can produce that will shock the American public, quasi-satanic orgies and all.
Modern American culture has become a willing collaborator to the arts world — from Hollywood to the Oval Office, from TikTok to the public school classroom — thanks to the ascendancy of leftist orthodoxy in cultural and political institutions. Art can no longer be subversive once the political and broader media establishments espouse its values, whether those be sexual perversion or anti-religious bigotry.
Thus art has ceased to be interesting or subversive. Instead, the arts world and the establishment have merged — First Lady Jill Biden presented at the award show after all — producing mediocre content according to its tastes. If art wants to become subversive again, it must reject the values most prized by our modern culture. It must discard the idols of the left, from sexual deviancy to bitter racism. It must trash wokeness. Until it comes up with a fresh message, expect a continued mass exodus.
Reactionaries who really want to buck establishment tastes are congregating not in an art museum or mosh pit — but, ironically, at church. As Julia Yost described last summer in an op-ed for The New York Times titled “New York’s Hottest Club Is the Catholic Church,” pandemic-weary Manhattanites have rebelled against leftist orthodoxy by embracing traditional morality and the Catholic Church:
By 2020, the year of lockdowns and Black Lives Matter protests, progressivism had come to feel hegemonic in the social spaces occupied by young urban intellectuals. Traditional morality acquired a transgressive glamour. Disaffection with the progressive moral majority — combined with Catholicism’s historic ability to accommodate cultural subversion — has produced an in-your-face style of traditionalism. This is not your grandmother’s church — and whether the new faithful are performing an act of theater or not, they have the chance to revitalize the church for young, educated Americans.
Comedian Tim Dillon has noticed the same phenomenon. “All the cool kids now are unwoke and some of them are going back to Christianity because it’s the only way to be rebellious — because everybody’s blue-haired, non-binary, talking about piss orgies,” Dillon said in a recent interview with podcaster Joe Rogan.
That to be “transgressive” in this day and age means attending church and rediscovering religious orthodoxy is quite the plot twist, but it’s encouraging for the West’s prospects. Let’s hope this trend continues, and that so-called artists like Sam Smith and his tired satanism shtick get the red, latex boot.