Excellent piece and I share a vast number of your sentiments.

"Political activism is also in some ways the opposite of art."

I'd argue that overt propaganda isn't art, at least not with a capital "A." It might not be an argument that holds up; TRIUMPH OF THE WILL *is* beautifully shot, after all. Subtle propaganda might sneak through the gates, but -- to your point, I think -- what we're getting now is not subtle.

"Personally nearly every piece of fiction (of the limited number) I’ve read in the last few years has been written before 1975 and it’s been a relief to be able to consume something sealed off from the present."

I fully agree (I got heavily into Evelyn Waugh last summer) but, in the spirit of self-examination, am forced to wonder whether I am not just geezerifying. Yet I am also hard pressed to think of a quality work of literary fiction published much later than the 1990s. K. Amis's point via King Fausto below is well taken; there are many good writers who have done "genre" stuff instead of "highbrow literary fiction." Some (Americans) have been retroactively redeemed by The Library of America, although not in their lifetimes.

The thing is... I don't even know where the good genre stuff is any more. I speculate the problem is the mediocre content flood. I think Hollywood is a dinosaur that deserves to die, but the increasing domination of film/TV production by streaming services in the lockdown era has resulted in a vast biomass of "just good enough" stuff; things one binges and forgets by tomorrow, catering to a particular demographic. It's Netflix's business model and its competitors are aping it, resulting in more and more crap. Instead of dinosaurs, we have proliferating rodents.

I admit to being part of the problem. E.g. I binged DISENCHANTED on Netflix, a Matt Groening production done in the Simpsons/Futurama house style which is clearly targeted at aging Dungeons & Dragons nerds (I am in this demographic), and for the most part I found it very funny, but I found the insertion of the political messages to which you allude jarring and not... funny. I am old enough to remember a time when comedians and satirists went after hypocrisy universally. Now it seems there are protected classes who must not be mocked.

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