I read something online recently where this guy was ranting about one of my favorite scifi writers, Orson Scott Card. This guy considered the author a bigot (actually he used a very colorful adjective to describe him) and even though he wanted to read his books (Ender’s Game series) and watch the movies based on those books, he wouldn’t because he didn’t want to spend his hard-earned money of an effing bigot.
I don’t know if Card is a bigot, or what he said or did that made this guy think he was, but the rant did get me thinking – what responsibility do we have as consumers to know the character flaws or contrary beliefs of various authors, musicians, artists, actors, and other celebrities, that we patronize?
How much do we tolerate before we act on our convictions, and stop supporting public figures whose behavior we condemn?
My mind then went to Phillip Pullman, another author whose writing I love. His Dark Materials trilogy was the basis for the movie “Golden Compass.” After reading that trio of books I wanted my own dæmon.
Apparently, he is an atheist whose ideology is supposedly rampant in those stories. When I’m reading a book, I’m not constantly analyzing the subtext. Besides, I don’t care if Pullman is an atheist. If reading some YA fiction topples any religions beliefs I hold, then those beliefs couldn’t have been very solid to start.
C.S. Lewis, author of the Narnia Chronicles, was a prolific Christian writer. Unless you were totally lacking in any religious exposure, you would have to be brain-dead not to pick up on the God allegories in that set of seven novels. If you refuse to read them, solely on your rejection of Christian values, you would miss out on some of the best children’s literature ever written.
What about actors, musicians, or political celebrities? Do we buy their music, attend their movies or watch their TV show if we find them reprehensible? Can we admire their talent and still abhor their actions?
Wife and girlfriend beaters, homophobic bastages, political nutcases, racists, bigots, serial adulterers, drug abusers… assholes ad nauseam.
There are celebrities and musicians whose public persona is so vile to me, that I won’t pay to attend their movies or listen to their songs, and refuse to watch their television programs. My boycott won’t bankrupt them financially, nor will they even notice, it’s my personal preference to not support them. I can still appreciate their skills.
My daughter refused to watch the new Oz movie because she felt the film makers took a story which had a strong, intelligent female lead and reduced it to an overly sexualized piece of fluff. And, don’t get her started on Disney Princesses.
How far back do we go? What about William Faulkner, Hemingway, Dickens, Sir Walter Scott, Sylvia Plath, Dali, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec – raging alcoholics, adulterers, racists, wife beaters, sexual deviants, drug abusers. Also some of the most revered writers and artists in history.
Is drug abuse okay, but domestic abuse a deal-breaker? Can we accept racism and bigotry when the music is amazing? If our favorite comedian’s political diatribes make our blood boil do we pay to watch his latest movie?
Where do we draw the line, can we separate the artists from their art? Should we?