Scholars and artists will either serve the regime, or die. Every authoritarian state does this: China, Russia, Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany.
The idea even finds its way into fiction. Princess Leia deuterocanonically (Splinter of the Mind's Eye) joined the Rebellion because she had trouble finding entertainment. Her boredom with popular culture opened her eyes to how the Empire repressed the creative, and then, by extension, everyone.
In the dark future of the Eight Thrones universe, we catch some glimpses of popular culture in the Confederated States, arguably the most repressive regime in North America.
Women and people of color are not allowed to perform. The news is broadcast only by white men and without makeup. Sports are entirely white. Singing groups are all male. Female roles in movies are cut to bare minimum, sometimes not existing at all. Inspirational romance, Christian fiction and such are the only acceptable books. Imagine an eternity of movies like Fireproof and Left Behind, (not to smear my friend Eric Wilson who wrote the Fireproof tie-in) and books like When the Soul Mends (a popular Amish romance).
"Stevens punched buttons on the radio, the two-way turned down to a low hiss of static. He flipped through a male soloist, a men’s choir, a traffic report for Memphis, a preacher inveighing against immodesty in women, the news, a men’s quartet, more news and another preacher reading from Ezekiel. The cop turned it off." --Glad Hands
But in The Building, where the Ligatos Group holds sway, anything goes. And Ligatos' body-slave, David, is an art collector, of certain types.
A bit of an egotist, he collects replicas of famous David sculptures
These stand in various places in his living room. The pothos, Devil's Ivy, has nearly eaten his Bernini replica (the first one)
But David is a man of tastes ( trope: Wicked Cultured)
In his bedroom, he not only has a bed large enough for four, but an X-frame.
And the art on the walls is appropriate. He favors Mapplethorpe and Tom of Finland.
(he also has the very famous fisting one, but I'm not putting that up here)
Of course, any one of these, including the Michelangelo, is enough to get David executed, as if his taste for men didn't already cement that.
New proteges, especially from more repressive countries such as Heartland or the CS tend to stare, gaping, the first time they enter his bedroom.
(this post brought to you because Finland is putting old Tom on stamps!)
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