As seen on TV: The pandemic

Caroline Hendrix, Senior Writer

I remember listening to Luke Combs’ “Six Feet Apart” for the first time a few days after it was released this past summer. I was in the car with my father and when the chorus began to blast on the radio, we both turned to each other. It was way too soon; I felt like we were in the eye of a storm that had no end in sight. It almost seemed inconsiderate to make a song in the midst of this tragic moment in history. While I understand my initial feelings about the release of pandemic-inspired art during the earlier days of the pandemic, I cannot ignore the almost contradictory thoughts that remind me of how art has, historically and presently, been used to capture major moments in history, good or bad. Combs’ song represented the first time I really noticed a piece of history that I had lived through being the inspiration behind art.

I do not think that my response was what Luke Combs had in mind for his audience, nor did it seem like the intention of other artists, of all mediums, during this past year. We also see the reflections of our current global situation, for instance, in film and television. Screenplay writer Steven Knight used his fascination with the transition from pre-coronavirus into the pandemic when he was working on the unreleased film “Locked Down”, which captures the lives of a couple struggling through the present pandemic. In an interview with the New York Times, Knight discussed how he felt writing about the pandemic while in the midst of it: “The great thing is people have a choice [to watch]. If it is painful, I completely understand that is the case for some people. But I’m hoping that doing something like this — it’s the human reaction to adversity throughout history. You try to make sense of it somehow, or you look for a silver lining.”

I think that Knight, as with any artist, can anticipate that a portion of their prospective audience will not be ready to accept what he has created, but I also believe that it is important to begin sharing stories from this period. This art will act as a reverberation of the present, catalogued for a time when people are ready to revisit the pandemic and its effects. More than that, an artist should not have to limit themselves to please an audience. They should instead present this period of uncertainty with authenticity and honesty.

One of the purposes of art, as I have learned, is to evoke emotions in its audience. But, perhaps even more true is that art is used as a medium through which artists are able to express their perspectives of history as it happens. I appreciate this privilege of art in bringing us into moments of the past and the present through their lens or from a neutral lens, but I also understand where my initial reaction of listening to “Six Feet Apart” was rooted from. I had never experienced such an obvious reference to an experience that along with the artist, I had also been enduring. And since that initial reaction to Luke Combs’ hopeful, social-distancing anthem, I have since found comfort in his and others’ art that have shown me that I am not alone in navigating through unprecedented times.

(Visited 34 times, 1 visits today)