Breakin’ The Law (Art and Deviance)

Have any of you experienced serendipity recently? Or ever for that matter?

No, I’m not writing about the John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale lukewarm romcom of the early 2000’s, I’m referring to the phenomenon where you get lucky and find something of value when you weren’t looking for it and more importantly, weren’t expecting it.

I mentioned this past Thursday that I would be going out to H20 Lounge to see an old friend and that I would also be singing some karaoke with him. Which would have been awesome if we would have made it there. Unfortunately for me, the birthday boy decided he wasn’t up for it and we headed elsewhere that night. Let’s call my friend Rick for the sake of the story.

But fortunately for you dear readers, that result gave me the ammunition I needed to write today’s post.

Oddly enough, despite this being a valuable story, I have mixed feelings about what happened.

I mention this because I’ve been thinking about the law a lot this weekend.

You see, it’s Christmas time, and during Christmas, people have a lot of fun getting together with loved ones, but they also can choose to put themselves in dark situations where they are around unscrupulous acts. Not that this doesn’t happen at other times of the year or in other parts of the world, but because we think about “magic” “miracles” “love” and other niceties a lot at this time, I think it’s important to consider other more hidden aspects of the spectacle. And how ugliness can come up.

Here is where the serendipity comes in.

I had planned on singing a karaoke version of Breakin’ The Law by Judas Priest in memory of another buddy of mine, who I believe fell into some hard times a few years back, and as a consequence drifted apart from me, my friend Rick, and some of our other close friends. Let’s call my long-lost friend Bob.

Bob had always loved Judas Priest, and I have a specific memory of him singing Breakin’ The Law and dancing around our locale dive bar during Rick’s 21st birthday, 9 years ago. One of the highlights of the performance was when Bob decided to prance around the bar, which resulted in him ripping his pants and us having a great story to tell later.

There is one specific part Judas Priest sings of the song, which for me, has tremendous significance but also weight.

So much for the golden future, I can’t even start
I’ve had every promise broken, there’s anger in my heart
you don’t know what it’s like, you don’t have a clue
if you did you’d find yourselves doing the same thing too

I wrote another post recently where I theorized about how artists collect from around them and “steal” when it’s warranted.

Because I didn’t get to sing that song, I kept thinking about it, more and more. Which led me to consider how breaking the law impacts artists.

Do we as artists realize the difference between laws that are “good” and laws which are dangerous? For instance, a law which prevents people from killing others or themselves (intentionally or not), is a completely valid law, and one which I hope no one would ever contest or put themselves in a situation where they do test they law and regret it.

If a law is good, then you should never break it, no matter what the circumstance, but when you test the limits of other laws, I think we experience some interesting results.

Take for instance street artists. Many people see street art as something which defaces private and public property. But I think what is more important to consider is the aesthetic of the artist and their ability to deliver something which either challenges or enhances the environment.

Here is a link which really identifies the second scenario. And here are some more just for fun.

You see, people can break the law and still provide beauty for the world to share in, but there are factors of power, deviance, and social norms to consider too. Which is incredibly interesting.

Ever heard of the concept of syllogisms? Let me illustrate it for the sake of those who haven’t.

All informative things are useful.
Some websites are useful.
Therefore, some websites are not informative.

The same thing can be said of art making.

All crime is deviant behaviour.
Some art is deviant.
Therefore, some art is criminal.

But where it gets challenging and that statement is problematic is understanding that just because something deviates from the norm, it doesn’t mean that all art which deviates is criminal, and I would argue further that it might not be a “good” law which makes that particular deviant art criminal behaviour.

A great many people would rather if we stuck to common sense on the matter and assumed that the law is always good, but the problem with that rationale is that it breeds power and control for those who understand the system and work within it to get their every wish.

But what do you think dear readers? Do you have some examples where this would prove to be wrong? Do you have examples to reinforce my theory? Comments! Leave them!


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