The public and the government react in very strange ways to immigrants. Often they are met with condescension and hatred by an ignorant and xenophobic population, yet there is also the backlash of sympathy from those on the opposite end of society. In both cases there is a tendency, albeit absurd, to consider these immigrants as in some way inferior. The video “Museum Songspiel” plays on this view of society, reminiscent of the reactions to the Transborder Immigrant Tool, highlighting both the blind antagonism of media and government toward immigrants and the fear of the public to step up to challenge it openly.
In both the Transborder Immigrant Tool and Museum Songspiel “artists” hide their activism behind the word art to absolve themselves. For Transborder Immigrant Tool, even though they can argue because their ‘artwork’ was never used that it is simply that, the label of art keeps the detaches the artist from the potential inherent illegality of his piece. This same concept is revived in “Muslim Songspiel” as the artist and museum owner conceal their attempt to aid the fugitives as part of their artwork. Though unsuccessful, this again brings up how the line between art and activism can be extremely blurry, if existent at all.
Another connection between the two pieces is the reactions of people to each. The provocative reporter, clearly opposed to the cause of the immigrants, attempting to incriminate the museum owner is all too similar to the fiery Glenn Beck, rallying public opposition to Ricardo Dominguez based on little more than fear and blind hatred of immigrants. “Museum Songspiel” even goes a step further with their fictitious government body “the Center for Extremism Prevention”. Simply stating their title seems to rally fear in the citizens in the movie, as evinced at the end by the immediate retraction of the woman’s suggestion to protest the arrest of the immigrants upon hearing the Center for Extremism Protection took them.
For me this was similar to the growth and spread of the Nazi’s in WWII. Even though the majority of the public may have been opposed to the rise and oppression of the Nazi’s, they were too afraid for themselves to stand up when others were persecuted. This theme and internal struggle is addressed consistently throughout the video, particulary during the Greek-theatre-esque choral interludes.
Without much background it is hard to side wholeheartedly with one group or another. Though the video clearly leans toward sympathy for the immigrants and the cause of the museum owner, they were still breaking the law and without sufficient knowledge of the laws its difficult to judge them as unjust. However, i couldn’t help but feel some level of contempt for the woman and man at the end who clearly lament the fate of the immigrants yet feel no need to do anything about it. I found it strange that her reason for wanting to help was that they were actors and deserve to be above the law as a result. This aspect of art being more important than law that was brought up several times in the piece seems rather ridiculous to me. However, simply the injustice of the law and the demotion of people to subhuman is the problem, regardless of their artistic importance in society.