Indeed, where are the writers that make social issues part of or the entire plot of their fiction? Why don't more commit their art to social causes? Is this absence of social art an American phenomenon?
Many artists tell me they don't to hurt sales or 'turn off potential fans' by writing articles on political issues. This can most certainly be a valid concern. I don't dismiss the artists that mention this as a barrier to activism.
I understand we must eat and live and survive to continue producing art. Going on a rant in your latest novel will do you no favors in building an audience.
What options do artists have? Does it boil down to ignoring social issues for business reasons or to step out and take a stand and risk ruination of your 'brand'?
I believe there is almost no money in art. The average artist is NOT living from the sales of the art they produce. What percentage of people that write novels earn their subsistence from said novel? The answer is close to zero. Another way of saying this:
The number of writers making a living from their fiction is close to statistically irrelevant in comparison to sample size.
One percent of all fiction writers make a living. (Definition of living is the same scale used to determine the poverty line by the Government-- basically between 16-18k in most places in America) Not the one percent get rich, like the rest of America. No, one percent can live off the sales of their fiction.
What other industry is like that? I've worked as a waiter for twenty years. I've lived off those wages. I've never been a bartender at a 'hot' club on Las Vegas Boulevard (the service industry equivalent of the one percent), yet I've managed to make a living at a solid restaurant.
Where does that leave us? If you attempt to live from your art, you will be poor at a clip of a 99% rate. That's why you should write about inequality. You are living it. If those with the power of the pen won't fight for the weak- who will?
I speak directly to the artists out there: take a stand for the poor. Art made for the people nourishes the soul.