(Okay, a possible revelation, but that would have made for too long a title.)
First, watch this video:
(Note: If you are drinking coffee or any liquid, put it down, because you don’t want to spit-take it all over the screen.)
Hats off to Terrence K Williams—that was really funny! But it also raises a serious question I’d like to explore.
The first thing Facebook decided I should watch this morning was a video of Amy Lee from Evanescence, talking about coronavirus and performing songs from home. I had it playing on my phone while I got dressed and ready for the day. It was very nice.
Among the things she said, before starting a song, was how coronavirus is serving as a great equalizer—making us all the same, worldwide. It was a live video, and I don’t recall the exact wording, but it was very similar to what Madonna says above: rich or poor, whatever your background, talents, etc., coronavirus has put us all in the same boat.
Now, that assertion is, in one way, laughable: coronavirus is hammering the world economically—especially those who can least afford even a moment’s unemployment. It is seriously tone-deaf to talk about coronavirus’s equalizing effect without acknowledging that—especially for musicians who are almost certainly not wanting for money. But in another way, the assertion is true. Coronavirus is something we all now have in common. That is what they mean. They aren’t trying to be tone deaf; they are trying to express something that matters to them.
The interesting question is, WHY does it matter to them? Here’s where we get political.
Evidence is mounting that fundamental personality traits—and perhaps even biological predispositions—may actually precede ideological inclinations. The correlation is never going to be one-to-one—there will always be choice involved—but it’s looking increasingly like certain “types” of people tend to be drawn to their respective ideological positions.
Among these is the community vs. independence dichotomy. People with a strong independent streak tend to be drawn towards the you-can-succeed-if-you-work-hard ethos of the right. People with a longing for community tend to be drawn towards the collectivist left.
Of the many ways this has manifested itself, one of the most striking comes from the 20s and 30s, where progressives were explicitly expressing a longing for the galvanizing effect of World War I. Why can’t we have that same thing without all the carnage, they wondered.
I think that may be what is at work here. I think Lee and Madonna are expressing a deep-seated, idealistic appreciation for the fact that we all have something in common now.
As an aside, I do not know Lee’s politics . . . and I do not want to know. I love Evanescence, and would rather just listen to their music without politics intruding. But the musician/artist personality often includes traits that tend to lead leftwards, so I will assume the trait even if the politics are not there. (We all know Madonna’s politics, and other than that one album that William Orbit’s brilliance made almost passable, I have no use for her music.)
I am almost certain that it did not even occur to either of them that they are being tone-deaf about the fact that we are not all equal in terms of the economic impact. They were expressing something they truly feel, and I think they assume that others know what they mean and feel the same way.
On one level, I do know what they mean, and I do share some of the same feeling. Coronapocalypse has had the effect of putting us all in the same boat (in some ways) and giving us all something in common. It really is heartwarming to see people helping the elderly in stores, singing songs from their balconies, etc. (I also hold out hope that there may be some long-term beneficial side effects from this experience.) But I suspect that for Lee and Madonna, the feeling runs even deeper. It’s a longing. And I think it’s a longing that, as a generalization, lefties feel far more keenly than righties.