Artistic activism

Authored by: Stephen Duncombe , Steve Lambert

The Routledge Companion To Media And Activism

Print publication date:  March  2018
Online publication date:  March  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138202030
eBook ISBN: 9781315475059
Adobe ISBN:


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We are beholden to a powerful story, and imagine ourselves as part of it: it is the story of The Power of  The Truth. One variation is ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’, Hans Christian Anderson’s nineteenth-century fairy tale. The story, as you may recall, is about an emperor who is tricked into buying a spectacular suit of non-existent clothing. Eager to show off his new duds, the emperor parades through town in the buff. The crowd, eager to share in the fantasy, exclaims how marvelous the emperor’s imaginary attire is. Then, from the sidelines, a young boy exclaims, ‘But he has nothing on!’ Upon hearing this undeniable fact, the people whisper it mouth to ear, awaken from their illusion, and, of course, live happily ever after. Many activists have imagined themselves as the courageous boy in this kind of story. We simply have to reveal The Truth, The People will hear us, and the scales will fall from their eyes. They will finally see the world as it really is (which, of course, means seeing the world as we see it). Then, everything changes and we all live happily ever after.

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