Saturday, July 25, 2015

From me to you and back again -4-

-This is where I talk about something. Something that comes to mind and sticks there and I want to describe so that it sticks in other peoples minds and makes them think, because that is what this is about. I want to be thinking. I want to be lit up and even alight. And I want you to leave this post with the memory of the thoughts it made you have.-

This post has a trigger warning for abuse. I don't go into the topic, but it is present.

Recently I read something about an actor. It made me decide firmly to boycott their work, because a. I didn't want to support them, and b. I don't think I could watch them anymore. But just now I was thinking and wondering and I'm trying to figure out where you separate a person from their work. There are thousands of people who do horribly awful things- people who are in the spotlight, have been in the spotlight. We have painters who started wars, creators who want to put people into catagorised boxes, actors who abuse. And wouldn't these people or their acts, but I'm not sure about whether I can appreciate their art- whether it was solely their doing or a collaboration- or whether I should separate it from the person.

If an author goes against their readers, as we bloggers have witnessed many a time, or they speak out against (and I mean deadset offensively against) something I am passionate about, then I am quite happy to claim my spot as someone who won't read their work. But if I find out about the history of an actor, history that horrifies and disgusts me, can I refuse to watch a film their in when they are really only a part of that process? Writers, also, play but a part in the creation of their work. They create and mould the stories, but editors and agents, family and friends and the readers, they play a critical role, too. So if an actor is starring in a film from a book that someone else is scripting and directing and producing, what part do they play and what about the other creators, whom you may love or respect or feel rather passionate about?

I feel conflicted, because I know I don't want to watch a film with this person in it anymore, but what about the people whose work I do and have appreciated when they have done similarly awful things (I can only think of one, right now, but still)?

So my question for you, from this kind of dark post, is whether we can separate an artist from their work, how do we do that and would you keep reading/listening/watching something made by someone who had done something terrible?

16 comments:

  1. I guess it depends on the person... I have tried in the past, and I personally have a lot of trouble separating the artist with their work. For the most part it isn't an issue actually because I remain on the whole pretty oblivious to pop culture gossip and the like, so I rarely seem to hear about things like this, but when I do it is my choice to boycott them unless I think there's a chance I might truly enjoy their work.

    The example that comes to mind is Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. I knew already that Card was terribly homophobic, but Ender's Game was supposed to be a classic and I was curious, so I read it. I didn't BUY it mind you because I didn't want to support Card in any way, but I borrowed it. And I tried my best to separate my personal opinions about Card from the book, but I don't know if I was successful. In the end I disliked the book - I thought the writing and plotting was terribly poor, but part of me thinks that part of that dislike was likely due to my dislike of Card as a person.

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    1. I... I understand that. I mean, how horrible would it be if your favourite author had something come out about them and it was proved and they were your favourite author? For me I don't think I could go back to the other books or future books. I'd be too heartbroken and horrified. But it's circumstantial, too. You can never really judge something until you're facing it.

      Oh yeah. That makes sense to me, not wanting to support him. I would find it pretty difficult to put aside my personal feelings, too, because I'm such a supporter of LGBT+ rights.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Aylee! xx

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  2. Sometimes, the act is way too offensive to separate the person from their work. In this case, I refuse to help this person to prosper in their life by supporting their work. Does that make sense?

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    1. Definitely. I was saying to Aylee above that it's so circumstantial. You need to know what you can about the situation and the person and I guess then decide for yourself. Thank you so much for this, Joy. xx

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  3. Wow, this is a tough question, and which I don't think I have a solid answer for to be very honest with you. I'm not completely up to date when it comes to celebrity news, so I don't even know this actor that you're referencing. I think it just depends on the person, and what they did. Was it a mistake of youth, or did they do it to feel powerful with themselves? I'm not exactly sure where to draw the line honestly. Very powerful discussion Romi xx

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    1. It is! I was just thinking that when I came to reply to comments "Romi, you asked a very difficult question". I wrote this about a month and a half ago, so I'd forgotten my passion in the moment. This is also me finding about an old incident, so it's not likely to be mentioned much anymore, although it was really atrocious.
      That's how I feel, too- it's circumstantial in so many ways.

      Thanks so much, Joy! xx

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  4. It's a bit of an unsolvable dilemma to me. Sometimes I go one way, sometimes the other. I find it hard to enjoy someone's work when I find the creator problematic, but it depends on why and how much and how much does their work relate to my issues? I guess it also comes down to whether I want to support this artist. If they've been dead for hundreds of years, it's slightly different from when they're alive and gain money and popularity from my support of their creation. And then of course there's the question of whether the product/piece of art/whatever should be seen as detached from the creator. I definitely think it's possible, but when someone irks me so much that I just don't want to support them, I still don't feel comfortable supporting their work.

    I've really done both in the past, so I'm far from being able to give a definite answer, but I understand your problem. :D

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    1. What I'm getting from these responses, yours included, Vlora, is that it's really subjective and circumstantial. It depends on the actuality of what happened- because what if it's unverified or a rumour, where do you go from there? Alyssa made a great point that it's about trusting your gut feeling. I really like that.
      For me, if it's something that is at a really high level or something I just can't look beyond, that's enough. But I suppose I'm not aware of many people whose work I'm fond of that have dark parts in their history- I'm often rather oblivious. And yes, detaching work from it's creator, that in and of itself is a really interesting extension of this discussion.
      Thanks so much for your thoughts, Vlora! I'm so glad you stopped by the share. xx

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  5. Hmm, this is a really tough issue. I can definitely see both sides of the argument -- seeing the work as art on its own, or appreciating it as the work of an artist. I've always detached art from the artist slightly myself, but if an artist goes against my beliefs significantly, I might boycott their work for a little while. Like I was annoyed at Marvel for not featuring Black Widow and Janet Van Dyne in their own movies, so I didn't go to watch Ant-man. But if I personally *want* to appreciate their art, I would probably not go against my gut feeling. That's all it really comes down to, I think: instinct and conscience.

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    1. It definitely isn't an easy answer, although it's made for some really interesting discussion. I really like what you said about trusting your gut feeling, that seems to be a really good way of working out how you feel about something. Like, if you really just cannot go on with it, don't. No reason to force yourself. xx

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  6. Romi,

    It depends on the situation. I think the only way for me to look past said person's wrongdoings is when there is a lengthy amount of time between the problem and their career. For instance: I enjoy listening to Michael Jackson's music but, if he were alive today, I wouldn't pay to see him in concert or leave my child with him. I can say without conviction that child abuse DOES bother me but at the same time the allegations came out after his career had settled and, because of that, I am able to separate his music from his terrible choices.

    I know that isn't the same for everyone, and everyone is welcome to their own opinion, but that is how I see it.

    -Jordan

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    1. Thanks so much for adding to the conversation, Jordan- I appreciate it so much; your comments on entitlement to opinion are totally awesome.
      For me, it doesn't really matter so much how long a time has gone between what was done. Some things, for me (plenty, actually) are inexcusable and even an apology isn't enough- it's not going to change the trauma, afterall. It can still be as relevant today as it happened however many years ago, but I do understand what you're saying. I'm glad you shared! xx

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  7. Oh man, this is a such a hard question. I think I was first faced with this when all those Cassandra Clare posts came out and I didn't approve of what she did but I still enjoyed her books and rated them five stars because even though I didn't like her decisions as a person I loved her writing. It's really tough... I think it depends on the situation and how personally comfortable you feel. I do the same music wise, I'll listen to an artist's music if I disagree with their actions as a person because I'm kind of able to separate that. Definitely tough.

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    1. I didn't realise how dark the topic was, not really how extensively, until I came back to the comments. Ah, I surprise myself sometimes. But at the same time, dark things can't be ignored and I'm happy it's making people think about how they feel.
      It is definitely hard and there isn't an easy answer that covers everything or can be universally correct- I think it really applies to how each person feels, reacts. Sometimes it's possible for me to separate, I think, but sometimes it just isn't enough and I can't look past what I know has been done. Definitely situation-dependent, though, you're right.
      Thanks so much for stopping by! xx

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  8. I think the decision is ultimately up to you, and that you should do whatever you're comfortable with. Knowing something about an author/actor will usually taint your feelings on their book/film anyway, so maybe it's not a bad thing to skip it altogether?

    I find it depends on the person and what they did, but I do find myself not wanting to support some people and I'm ok with that

    Mands @ The Bookish Manicurist

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    1. Fantastic answer, Mands. Alyssa made a similar point- it's up to your gut feeling- and I feel like you two are so right, or at least right in how I feel about the topic.
      Yes, it's definitely not always the same or always easy, very dependent on what actually happened. I'm glad you can choose not to support someone and be okay with that. That's fantastic.
      xx

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Thank you so much for reading my post and, if you care to, commenting! It means a lot to me that you have thoughts on this thing (whatever it may be), too, and want to share them.

Please note, however, that nothing hurtful will be tolerated.

Have a beautiful day.x