July 22nd 2015
ERIA QUINT: Thanks for joining us for another edition of Showdown – where we tackle all the issues dominating the Empire from two different perspectives. I’m your host, Eria Quint, here to hold down the center and moderate today’s discussion. With elections just around the corner, many senatorial campaigns have, once again, set up holograms in public places to grab the attention of distracted voters.
Recently, Gemma streets have been flooded by holograms of the Tevarin candidate Suj Kossi, but not all of them have been authorized by his campaign. Self-proclaimed satirist and visual artist Felix Crawford has taken to the streets of Gemma to set up his own holograms of Kossi. Some argue his holograms have directly lead to an increase in anti-Tevarin rhetoric that has recently plagued the public debate around Mr. Kossi’s campaign. Mr. Crawford is here to explain why he created the holograms. Thanks for joining us, Felix.
FELIX CRAWFORD: Great to be here.
ERIA QUINT: And here to tell us why Mr. Crawford’s art should be banned is Nori Ryak, a consultant for the Kossi campaign. Welcome to the show.
NORI RYAK: Hi, Eria. Let me start by saying that we don’t want to “ban” art. What Mr. Crawford has perpetrated is nothing more than racism disguised as art.
FELIX CRAWFORD: Everyone’s a critic.
ERIA QUINT: Mr. Crawford, how would you describe this series of installations?
FELIX CRAWFORD: It is an interactive hologram series I call “A New Era of Tevarin Dominance.” It displays Mr. Kossi and an imagined proposal about how, if elected, he’d draft legislation to change Jalan’s official name back to Kaleeth, the Tevarin name for the planet.
ERIA QUINT: And you don’t see how that could be misinterpreted?
FELIX CRAWFORD: My goal was to do what I always aim to do … entertain and engage people in a conversation. The Kossi campaign has dominated the Elysium media landscape for months. If he’s elected, it’ll be an historic event for the Empire. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t put my spin on the situation.
NORI RYAK: Spin is one thing, but this kind of rhetoric is dangerous. I have no problem with Mr. Crawford expressing his views, but he’s doing it in a way that inflames the public by grossly misrepresenting Mr. Kossi’s positions on a number of issues, which could drive away voters who would otherwise support him.
FELIX CRAWFORD: I’ve never claimed that the holograms are supposed to accurately represent Mr. Kossi or his views.
NORI RYAK: But you’re failing to let people know that.
FELIX CRAWFORD: That’s not true. There’s a very clear disclaimer attached to the hologram.
NORI RYAK: That can only be found if someone takes the time to hold up their mobiGlas to it. Mr. Crawford may call this art, but it’s coming off more like a smear campaign.
ERIA QUINT: Mr. Crawford, some have argued that your depiction of Kossi is a caricature of the Tevarin race and deeply offensive. How do you justify those choices?
FELIX CRAWFORD: Listen, I’m a satirist. I’m not here to be politically correct. It’s the deep-seated emotions around issues that I find really interesting. The fact that people are responding strongly to my work means that I’ve tapped into something real. For me, that makes this work successful.
NORI RYAK: Mr. Kossi’s campaign offices have received a noticeable rise in anti-Tevarin Comms since these holograms appeared. Notorious anti-Tevarin groups have even started picketing Kossi campaign events. Right now, the public debate is less about Mr. Kossi’s policies and ideas and more about him being Tevarin. This piece of “art” could not only compromise this election, but the safety of everyday people, and should be taken down.
FELIX CRAWFORD: Come on, I can’t be held responsible for the actions of others. What I do know is that what Mr. Ryak keeps suggesting sounds a lot like censorship to me. I might not understand politics, but I know that advocating for the end of artistic free speech would probably harm Mr. Kossi’s campaign more than my holograms.
NORI RYAK: You’re not concerned that your holograms are going to get people hurt?
FELIX CRAWFORD: My only concern was to make something interesting. People’s interpretation of it is completely out of my control.
NORI RYAK: There’s no need to interpret the message. It’s as plain as day. It’s not like there are “satirical” holograms about the other candidates. Not a single one mocks Marigold’s outdated tax initiative or Gracián’s views on Senator Polo’s bill. It makes me wonder who’s really behind all of this.
ERIA QUINT: I’m sorry, are you suggesting that another candidate is involved?
NORI RYAK: I’m just saying there’s got to be a reason Mr. Kossi is being singled out.
FELIX CRAWFORD: Yes, there absolutely was a reason I singled him out. Doing so would bring my work the most attention, and being on this show is proof that it worked. Universal name recognition is the hardest thing to achieve as an artist and thanks to all this, I’m now one step closer.
ERIA QUINT: That is all the time we have for this discussion. Thanks to both of you for being here today. Definitely a complicated issue. For more on this, and more ongoing election coverage, make sure to visit us on the spectrum. Join us again next time to hear from both sides of the toughest debates, only on Showdown!