Afro Commentary: Loving the Art, Hating the Artist

gsb_hate-artist-headerOriginally Published 2013.04.17

Fairly recently, DC Comics asked acclaimed science fiction writer Orson Scott Card to be part of a new digital first Superman title, Adventures of Superman, which would feature one-off stories featuring the last son of Krypton. Many cried foul in response due to Cards well known stance on homosexuality and same-sex marriages. It even lead the artist assigned to work with him, Chris Sprouse, to walk from the project and forcing DC to push the issue further down the production schedule.  While I applaud Sprouse for standing up for his principals, it does bring up a very good question: Is it possible to despise an individual, yet enjoy the work they do?

It’s a conflict that we all come across in one form or another in our lives, yet we deal with it. There are people who are the best in their field with a wide range of skill sets, yet they are the most worthless person on the face of the Earth. You would rather take on a Klingon bare-handed than deal with that person socially. He might be a co-worker who is a fantastic engineer and helped save your project, yet he is the worst womanizing jerk you know. Or the salesman who is the rep for your company that made the numbers single-handedly, but is also a racist S.O.B. We have dealt with these kinds of people in one form or another.

But can this same social dynamic apply to the mediums we consume? Perhaps it is up to the individual to decide whether or not they can live with a certain amount of inner conflict or hypocrisy by separating the art from the artist. The reason why I say this, is because art is an abstract of the artist themselves. It becomes a quantifiable accumulation of a person’s intellect, personality, beliefs and convictions. It becomes a slippery slope to the audience who like an artist’s body of work while knowing the person is someone you would protest against under normal circumstances.

My personal example of this is Card himself. As you all know from the Podcasts, I have become a huge fan of Ender’s Game and the other books of the Enders Quadrilogy. I was unaware of Cards stance on homosexuality and same-sex marriage prior to reading Enders Game books. Needless to say I created an awkward moment with a good friend of mine, who is gay, when I went “OMG Enders Game books were great books!” After he told me of Cards beliefs, I was conflicted because I wanted to read more of the books, but buying any more essentially meant I supported his beliefs.

A broader example of this is Chris Brown. He has done rather despicable things over the last few years, yet people still listen to his music and buy his albums. I believe people can change and learn from their mistakes; however his numerous actions and posts on Twitter and Instagram come into direct conflict with his public message “I am a changed man”.

Ultimately, I have begun to treat Card the same way as Tom Cruise with his support of the Church of Scientology. I may enjoy many of the movies he is in, and he may (or may not) be a great guy, but I cannot agree with his beliefs or how the Church he represents treats its followers. As a Constitutionalist, these two men have the right to say, believe in or even financially support whatever they want. Even if what they stand for is deplorable (which they are), they still have a right to believe it. I am a firm believer of Voltaire’s quote, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” As long as Card or anyone do not try to shove their beliefs down my gullet via their art, anything illegal or by down right stupidity on behalf of the rest of the species in pursuit of their beliefs, then there is no problem here. Just like I will defend Sprouse’s actions in pulling out of Adventures of Superman in protest of Cards beliefs, Card has a right to believe in what he does. People just need to remember that even though you have the freedom to express your beliefs and even give a portion of the money you earn to these causes, every word and action have consequences. At the end of the day, you will be judged by the jury of public opinion, which can change at a moment’s notice. And whatever deity you may believe in – if you believe in one – may love you, but there are always people who think that you’re an asshole.

So now I leave the topic to my fellow geeks. Are there circumstances where you like the art but hate the person(s) involved with its creation? Do you not even bother with the property? Is there something you want to try, but don’t because of their beliefs? The Private wants to know!

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