In Defense of Cultural Criticism in Trump’s America

[ Originally published on this site as post ]

Cultural critique is in a tricky spot. Living as we do under an extremist government, it is hard to know what to do with criticism, or how to consume art that does not carry a big rubber stamp declaring it “political.” It’s hard to defend doing anything except being in the streets.

There are many bad arguments circulating on this topic. The musician Amanda Palmer, for example, has asserted that President Donald Trump will make punk rock great again. Palmer, who says she has “studied Weimer Germany extensively,” told a conference in Australia, “We’re all going to crawl down staircases into basements and speakeasies and make amazing satirically political art.”

In a superficial sense, her theory is understandable. Art has