Separating the art from the artist

Picasso was a terrible human being who mistreated his wives, but he made great art. Orson Scott Card writes novels I really enjoy, but his rants against gay rights are full of hate. There are actors and musicians whose work I admire and whose personal lives are terrible.

But I think it is important to separate the two. It is possible to like the art without liking the artist.

Which leads to the important question: Should you support the art, knowing it benefits the artist?

In my case, I have tried to limit whatever I could contribute to the artist. I refuse to buy Card’s books, although I certainly can see myself getting one out from the library.

The situation with J.K. Rowling is more complicated.

In case you are not aware, Rowling has said some terrible things about trangendered people — really hateful things. I certainly will not buy any more of her books.

But I used to question certain boycotts of the Harry Potter movies because, after all, it’s not just her. There are thousands of people working on those films. I have no idea what the political views are of the director or the gaffer or the editor or the guy who sweeps the floor after the scene is done. (You can easily boycott the new “Fantastic Beast” films without this dilemma simply because they suck.)

J.K. Rowling has solved this dilemma for me by claiming that her success, and the success of the new Harry Potter video game, is evidence that people agree with her position.

That made my decision easier. Had she just shut her stupid mouth, I would be questioning the point of boycotting something that involves thousands of people, but I certainly am not about to give her a vote of confidence by purchasing the game. (And especially once I found out the game designer is a right-wing Trumpie who specifically placed anti-semitic themes into the game. Apparently, the hook-nosed goblins who run the banks are in rebellion against being treated terribly, and your goal as a player is not to help them against this injustice, but to put down the rebellion! Um, no thanks, I like playing the good guy in my games.)

I really did enjoy the Potter books and films, despite their flaws, and I can judge them separately from my views of the author.

But how can I buy this new game and still claim to be a supporter of my trans friends (of which I have quite a few)?

2 thoughts on “Separating the art from the artist

  1. A few of my friends and I had a conversation similar to this a night or two ago. It’s a very touchy subject. Some conclusions that we came up with were:

    1) don’t tell people “don’t buy the game or else you’re a horrible person”. You can only make decisions for yourself. You can explain to others the situation, explain to them what buying the game means, and why it’s so controversial. If they still buy it, that’s their informed decision. I won’t buy the game myself, because it represents and feeds (financially and politically) a disgusting person.

    2) one person mentioned “if I really wanted to play the game, I would pirate it”. Now, I’m not at all condoning pirating of software. However, I can see their point as a way to enjoy the game without feeding or empowering the beast behind it. Perhaps wait til it hits the bottom of the barrel later on is selling for 90% off maybe. Or buy a used copy.

    3) the problem is a general lack of overall education/information about LGBT+ people. Seems like there’s two radical opposing camps screaming, which is off putting. Education and understanding is the way to get through this.


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