Artist’s Job to Enlighten

by Eric Harrison: 

Ask actor Mark Ruffalo why so many current movies focus on revenge and he answers quickly and with passion. The films are reactions to the war in Iraq, he says.

“They’re allegories about destruction, vengeance, taking the law into your own hands,” he says. “They’re dealing with what’s happening in the world today.”

Then he really gets on a tear.

“I had a fight with a journalist yesterday,” he says. The reporter asked a question about the war. When Ruffalo answered, the journalist questioned why anyone should pay attention to an actor’s views about politics.

Ruffalo forgets our interview for a while, repeating the other conversation word-for-word, then he’s off on a gesticulating, profanity-streaked rant against the notion that artists and entertainers aren’t supposed to speak up about issues they feel strongly about.

“The artist’s job is to enlighten,” Ruffalo says, arguing that artists have commented on the state of their societies throughout history.

“It’s our job, it’s our responsibility,” he says. “No, it’s America’s responsibility. Let’s call it what it is.”

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