Saturday, July 30, 2011


What constitutes art? At what point in time is the term "art" used to excuse inappropriate behavior? I have to ask myself this question when I see "discussions" about art in SL.

Art has been used as a form of expression since the beginning of mankind. Is there a definition? Not that I have found. It is rather "open ended" sometimes described as anything that reflects "emotion". So I find myself looking at it from another angle.

We, (well most of the world) have standards for appropriate social behavior. How should we behave toward one another? For example, it is considered appropriate to discuss societal ills in an open forum. While some of these discussions can be very heated and often out of control, they are an expression that is generally accepted. Many artists have a style of discussing societal ills in their works, plays etc. that speak loudly and sometimes graphically. The discussion of societal ills is accepted although incensing one to violence is generally not tolerated. If art is used to raise awareness of the world around us, whether we appreciate the art or not, it is hard to argue that it is not art.

So, is there a point where "expression" no longer qualifies as art? I believe there is a point. The point is reached when any one of the following occurs: 1. When the behavoir could get a facebook account deleted, 2. when the behavoir could result in formal charges of harrassment. (and yes in the USA, criminal charges of harrassment can be filed against those who cyper bully. Information on this can be found on the FBI website) 3. When under "normal" circumstances it could get their virtual world identity deleted. 4. when the behavior is directed at any one individual or a small group of individuals with total disrespect. 5. when the individual thrives on attention to the exclusion of decency in their discourse about other individuals. 6. Where the individual is so consumed with the "me first mentality" that they disrupt art showings, performances and galleries of others trying to direct attention away from those that deserve it.

What I have described above is how a bully behaves. I have read arguments that say this sort behavior is "art". The argument is that it is an expression of "emotion'. This argument truly does not hold up. A bully generally bullies those he/she could care less about. The bully isn't reacting with emotion..just coldness. They bully because they lack feelings of empathy towards others. Therefore, bullying is done without emotion, not with.

I do find it a sad reflection on our society that some feel bullying can be described as an art form. I do believe we have a responsibility as artists and citizens of this world (both virtual and real) to understand there is a clear difference. Bottom line is that a bully is a bully, nothing more and nothing less. Granted, there are artists that are bullies. However, few would claim that their bullying is their "art form". It also should be noted that a bully is generally nice to others with the exception of those they are bullying. However, no one is exempt from their behavior and being "nice" to some is no excuse. This type of behavior is the behavior of an immature and 'unbalanced" individual, not an emotionally healthy or mature individual. We all have a responsibility, as a world society, to say harrassment of individuals is just not ok and harrassment of individuals is not art by any means.

Ignoring works well with bullies. Don't allow a bully a platform. They do get bored and will eventually give up.

Lastly, if an 8 year old can't use "art" as an excuse for bullying how can an adult?

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