Throughout all cultures and time periods, art is a constant. This demonstrated by the song Lili Marlene. Lili Marlene was originally written as a short poem. The German army, however, found it and played it on their radio station, which could be accessed in most of Europe. As a result, it became popular among both the Germans and their enemies stationed there. Both disapproved of each other to extent that they were willing to kill one another, but they were united by the fact that they enjoyed the music. There are numerous examples of this throughout history; two cultures different in all respects except for a shared recognition of art. Van Gogh and Hiroshige had almost nothing in common, different countries, worldviews, even languages, yet they shared a common understanding of art – and through it learned about each other’s cultures both usual things such as each other’s political systems and economy, but also how each culture thought and perceived the world.
Because many the artists seek to please their culture by showing only its favored views, however, art does not always show the truth. This is demonstrated by the movie Kim. Kim tells the story of an orphan boy living in India. Because it was meant for European and American audiences as a family-friendly film, it showed a biased and inaccurate India. In it, the indigenous people are treated much like the African Natives in the movie Tarzan; naïve, with little personality and less value except when guided by European characters. This is, of course completely inaccurate. However, it does gives us an insight into the story of Things Fall Apart. Before arriving in Africa, the only knowledge of Africans that the colonials had was art – books and paintings primarily – which portrayed a foolish vision of Africa intended to make their audience feel superior. With only this stilted knowledge, it is only natural that the result is unfair treatment of the culture. With little or inaccurate knowledge of other cultures’ true worldviews, it seems that the only way to improve the culture is to attempt to forcibly insert your own, causing needless cultural disconnects. This continues to this day – both within cultures- the difference between the highly educated and lowly educated, for example – and between cultures such as that between the United States and the Arab countries. Indeed, there are so many divisions that art is one of the only things that can tie us together.