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Sinéad O’Connor represents the heart of the new politics: victims empowering themselves.
“So, at a certain point did you stop hoping for that and realize that that was something you would never have?”
“Yeah, and I ran away from school and got myself a flat in Dublin and was offered a record deal and moved to London.”
These then, are Sinéad’s thesis and antithesis: vulnerability and bravado. An old story, but the young Irish singer recounts it with phenomenally powerful, often excruciating honesty. She may upset people by insistently transgressing the boundaries of art and self-presentation, and by forcing the listener to share her pain. This is what makes her a modern artist and, not incidentally, a proponent of the new politics.
Like the hip-hop musicians she admires, like performance artist Karen Finley, whom she has worked with and supports, like the ACT UP phenomenon with which she has associated herself, Sinéad O’Connor represents the heart of the new politics: victims empowering themselves. Their issues are arrived at organically, on the basis of personal experience. And it follows that censorship would seem among the most evil of crimes to people like Sinéad, who once were the victims of silence. No phrase recurs with more rage in her vocabulary than her reminder that in Dublin people sweep things under the carpet.
“Things were brushed under the carpet. Yeah. Things still are. That’s why, you know, they’ve got to be spoken, even if they upset people. They’re examples, you know. What happened to me is an example of what is still happening to millions of people, which is why it’s important to talk about it. You know what I mean? There was an occasion where . . . Some neighbors of ours called the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children to come out to our house because they heard my mother hitting us; and they wouldn’t come out because they said that people who lived in this middle-class area of Dublin that we lived in did not hit their children. So no help was offered to my mother and no help was offered to us. Do you know what I mean? My mother was very unstable emotionally. Who knows what might have happened to her. I don’t think it was a result of anything particularly that anybody did to her. She was just . . . In Ireland there wasn’t . . . There’s no help. There wasn’t any. . . . You know, like, over here or in England or in Ireland now, you know, you can look at the TV and there’s child line, you know, or there’s . . .