By calling some bit of media political, normal people mean "I can tell who the author votes for". The intellectuals, the academics or snobs, mean it in the Greek sense of the word, of having a message or meaning relating to politics.

The second group will often either feign or genuinely express confusion over the first complaining that a story with a flamboyantly gay protagonist or the like is too "political". A gay person's existence, they say, is not political! Their presence in the story does not relate to government function, so it is not political. In the context of the first sense of the word, however, it's clear what this tells you about the work - the author probably does not vote Tory.

However, many people in the second group would probably not stick to the definition for certain media. For example, "we should have less immigration" is, under the first definition, not really political. A position that spans Hoppean anarchism to Stalinist communism is apolitical in the first sense, but not the second. It's independent of the present government. We could even say: a nationalist's existence is not political! But, everyone knows it would hardly get by calling itself apolitical if the next big superhero film featured protagonists fighting for restricted borders and the freedom of nations against globalism - because we can tell who the author votes for.

The snobs love to play this motte and bailey game, and unfortunately normal people don't usually care enough to think and rebut the sophism. In the interests of appearing non-partisan, and because the double standard is found everywhere, we can easily come up with an alternative example. The neoconservative would, now perhaps in the past tense, have angrily told us that "America is a Christian nation" is not a political statement! It's simply a fact of the country, and denying it is simply anti-American, in the same way we are informed that certain beliefs are not political positions and, actually, simple bigotry. However, faced with an author calling for reducing legal speech restrictions, we know this group is likely to fly into a rage about crypto-communists, anti-semites and the like - always politicising everything, these leftists are incapable of letting us enjoy a good film.

In more general terms, what I'm saying is that politically active people do not see their own beliefs expressed in media as being political (it's just a matter of basic human decency, it's plain old patriotism, it's human rights, it's normal) but less active people are more likely to simply notice the intrusion of any partisanship at all beyond whatever environment they are immersed in, because it reminds them politics exists. Politically active people who align with the current zeitgeist (liberals in the broad sense, in this country today) are likely to see their beliefs as simply being baseline - any deviation implies explicit separatist politics intruding into their space, because it reminds them the "other side" exists, whereas politically inactive people (of any persuasion) will see anything that reminds them of politics as being explicitly political, and intruding into their space in the media.


I've noticed a lot of politically active people, especially leftists, like to say that "everything is political" when one of these normal people complains about some art being too politicised. Without coming down on one side, I think if this belief is held, it should be applied consistently, and in the light of what was discussed we can see that's not the case. If everything is political, everything is political. The artist may be free to include a call to action for the workers of the world because art is inherently political, but that comes with the requirement that the artist also be prepared to justify everything else as political: That means anything and everything from the presence of interracial relationships to the implicit rejection of Empedocles' metaphysics (for all the relevance to current events it need have) - none of this can be justified by "X exists, get over it" or by the current year or anything less than a political justification.

I'm not convinced all the advocates of this view have really thought through the consequences.