Federal Funding For The Arts And Humanities…Why?

Romance project

Why do academics insist on studying EVERYTHING???

As an arts lover and novel junkie, this blogger hereby requests the United States Federal Government kindly get out of the arts and humanities business.  They are funding all the wrong stuff – and giving all of us consumers of the product a bad name in the process.

From The Daily Caller*:

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has provided nearly $1 million in taxpayer funding since 2010 to “The Popular Romance Project,” an academic program to study the genre of popular romance fiction.

The Project aims to “explore the fascinating, often contradictory origins and influences of popular romance as told in novels, films, comics, advice books, songs, and internet fan fiction, taking a global perspective,” and will culminate with a 2015 documentary called “Love Between the Covers,” a “content-rich website,” an academic symposium, and a “nationwide series of library programs dealing with the past, present, and future of the romance novel.”…

President Barack Obama, whose re-election campaign was boosted by Democrat claims of a Republican “War on Women,” requested $154.4 million in funding for NEH in the fiscal year 2014 budget, a 5.1 percent increase, despite Republican efforts to cut the agency’s budget.

We need an academic study/project to tell us why we need fairy tales?  Didn’t a bunch of anthropologists or sociologists already settle this?  It’s a psychological thing.  Besides, for most of us women who read romance it’s an escape from reality for a little while.  Sort of like John Grisham, Star Trek, and comic books are for guys.  For most of us, it’s about the story, not the sex.  (I skip over those scenes.  They are useless to the plot.)

Hey, did I just save the taxpayers a lot of money or what?

The actual beginning of the romance genre was Jane Austen’s novels, and any true fan of romance will contend that the greatest romance ever written was Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, followed very closely by Emma, Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility.

Oh, wait, Jane Austen’s novels have no bedroom scenes…that probably disqualifies them.

The academics “studying” popular romance are using the American and Australian romance genre that bloomed in the 1970s and is now a $12 billion dollar business.  (Yes, that is BILLION with a capital B.)  So, why exactly do academics need about a million government dollars to build a website about the books in the romance industry that are mostly available in electronic format these days when the romance industry is actually making a profit and can very easily fund such a project themselves?  (Hint: it’s a .org.  Academics don’t quite understand for profit business, so they go the nonprofit route.)

While readers ponder that question, consider that the National Endowment for the Humanities got a 5% raise this fiscal year, and apparently was not part of the sequester.  National monuments were closed, White House tours suspended, and there’s talk of closing the military commissaries, but the romance industry gets a project and a website on some academics’ favorite authors.  I mean, they aren’t studying any of the authors I read.

Is Nancy Pelosi a closet romance junkie?????  Somebody on Capitol Hill is.  Has to be otherwise any humanities study and website with that sort of price-tag would have been jettisoned – and rightfully so.

At a certain point when it comes to the arts and humanities – and the romance genre is questionable as a medium of high art, let alone needing some sort of humanities study – there needs to be limits on what the government should be funding.  The National Portrait Gallery which houses portraits of famous Americans, and some truly historically significant collections (Mathew Brady’s Civil War photography among them) is one thing.  It is part of the Smithsonian Institution, which could almost be part of the National Archives, and is worth at least maintaining, and developing a comprehensive collection.  The Library of Congress is a complete repository of American publishing, and houses books, serials, film, music scores, scripts and more.  That, at least, is part of keeping a historic record, and worthy even if the material is not always.  Why would funding composition, development, and studies of art be the government’s place?  Unless of course a monument or public building is involved.

And why would the federal government fund projects involving a highly profitable industry?

Along with the truly revolting schlock and kitch that has made headlines over the years (see Robert Mapplethorpe’s final collection of photography for the poster child of offensive government sponsored “art”), any kind of non-historical efforts of collecting or sponsoring art execution, collection or studying is not the place of our government.  It just isn’t.

As an arts lover who visits great art institutions in every city I visit, and bookworm with both Kindle and Nook apps on all my electronics, yes, artists starve for love of their craft, but at the same time, the open market supports more literature, art and live productions than the government ever could – and the open market supports better stuff.  If some artist out there can’t get private funding or draw enough of an audience to earn a profit, there’s probably a reason why.  The government doesn’t need to subsidize it.

*The quote from a romance novel in the Daily Caller article linked above is a-typical in romance.  That scene is disgusting. Gutter terms for anatomy are strictly avoided in the books of the authors I read.  The stories are supposed to be about falling in love, not the literary version of porn.

Categories: American Values, Culture

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5 replies

  1. Could this be an area where the administration’s propaganda could be used? Perhaps in the middle of a disgusting soft or hard porn scene there could an injection of a line pushing the taking of money from the wealth to give to the poor prostitute or a sales pitch for Obamacare.

  2. There is no Constitutional power for the Federal government to do this. Sadly that does not seem to matter in these days when “the common defence and general welfare” (the PURPOSE of the specific spending powers then listed in Article One, Section Eight) is interpreted by the courts as a “general welfare spending power”.

    This “interpretation” makes a nonsense of the idea of LIMITED government.

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