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"Art and Artist, to separate or not?", Two weeks ago, 9:15 AM #1
TheStrangerous

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This is the topic I've been bugged by, since the recent youtuber scandal.

So an author does something outrageous/scandalous, disappointing many long time followers and possibly, retroactively ruining previous works.

I too did experience such disappointment, many times in gaming. Obviously I don't buy the newer titles from any company on my blacklist. But do have fond memories of some of their older titles, which I played way back. Kenshin manga looks interesting, but now it's weird, knowing the author has gotten into trouble, decades later...

Heck, there's always a chance, where either your or my favorite piece of media might get tainted, by author's dark secrets. But is it possible to enjoy the art on it's own?
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Two weeks ago, 9:30 AM #2
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Yes.

If you can or cannot personally do so, however, is its own challenge.
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Two weeks ago, 10:17 AM #3
Bear

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Jeeeeez, there's a whole history of artwork that came from known dodgy characters and others we found out about later. Classical painters for e.g. everything from multiple murders and sword fights...to more recently burning down the tea house at Kew Gardens.

If you won't look at, read, or otherwise enjoy someone's work because they don't fit your, or society's moral or ethical code, you're gong to miss out on a lot of things !

A case of " cutting off your nose to spite your face " ...and if you separate ancient from modern because "well that was then", you're just a hypocrite. So Michelangelo is no more excused than Kevin Spacey !
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Two weeks ago, 1:46 PM #4
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TheStrangerous:Heck, there's always a chance, where either your or my favorite piece of media might get tainted, by author's dark secrets. But is it possible to enjoy the art on it's own?

For me it depends on what the person did, and what the media you enjoy is; it's easier to separate art from artist, it's harder to separate act from actor.

There's definitely a few pieces of art out there that I can still stomach because I don't particularly have to deal with the person who made it while partaking. You can read a comic even if you don't like the artist, ya know? Then there's some actors and YouTubers out there that have 100% ruined their product for me. Chris Benoit used to be my favorite wrestler, but it's hard to enjoy his matches knowing he murdered his whole family. And yeah, I know there's the apologists out there that try to justify it, but it doesn't change the fact that it happened. Same goes for the dude who played Cosmo Kramer on Seinfeld. Hands down my favorite character on the show, kinda hard for him to hold that title after what he did (NSFW) though.

There is definitely some exceptions though, like there's a comic I know of that I can't enjoy anymore because the author is certified piece of work; and despite the unjustifiable shit some actors have did and said, I can still watch their stuff somehow. Everything isn't black and white, gotta take all this stuff on a case-by-case basis, ya know?
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Two weeks ago, 1:49 PM #5
Zomburai

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Bear:If you won't look at, read, or otherwise enjoy someone's work because they don't fit your, or society's moral or ethical code, you're gong to miss out on a lot of things !


Life is too short to ever, ever, ever be able to read all the good books, read all the good comics, listen to all the great music, watch all the great movies and plays and shows, or play all the great games, so this isn't really an argument. You're going to miss out on so much anyway people can afford to be pretty discerning.

The truth is that what ruins a work or an author for someone is highly personal and subjective, and is allowed to be contradictory. You simply can't declare a hard and fast rule about it any more than you can say people aren't allowed to get mad at other people for talking during the movie.

I can't listen to Lostprophets anymore, at all. I tried listening to Liberation Transmission, one of my favorite albums, a couple months back and it just made me sad. I feel like I could watch Seven or Baby Driver again without squicking out. Was what Spacey did that much better than what Watkins did? I would say absolutely not. But I still can't listen to Lostprophets. Nothing to be done.
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Two weeks ago, 2:43 PM #6
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I'm weird in that I don't actively pursue the identities of the creators of who makes stuff. I don't idolize people themselves because they're humans at the end of the day, I judge the works not the persons. What the Kenshin guy did, what Subway's Jared did, etc. are bad but if the products are that good then you shouldn't deprive yourself of the fleeting pleasures of this world. Of course, it's a personal choice only you can make.
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Two weeks ago, 3:14 PM #7
Eaton Pye

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I'm with Bear and E-Hero on this one. I will go further and suggest that the whole 'it goes on your permanent record' mentality is deadly to art. A lot of what is under discussion is mere entertainment, but if we won't deal with transgressive art we aren't dealing with important art. Aside from the irritating tendency of people to try to impose their current half-baked morality on people whose lives and circumstances they don't understand from the past, this tendency in the present is very actively anti-art. Ironically, so many of the people promoting this judgmental posture are coming from a perspective of defending or promoting ideas, actions or lifestyles which have only become widely politically acceptable within the last few years- or are not yet. And yet these people can't bear the thought of looking at art by someone who violates their morality.

Of course, you can make your own choices, but a lot of this is about piling on and trying to use mob-psychology to make other people abide by your choices- it's the public denouncements and the condemnation of people who don't boycott the transgressor that characterize the contemporary internet outrage fests.

There are famous people I don't like, whose movies I might not enjoy, etc, and sometimes that relates to something they've said and done. But having seen all the witch hunting and bullying go on, I would never share my views about any particular actor or artist in this regard. Only if it shows up in their work are their political views or personal lives relevant.
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Two weeks ago, 4:21 PM #8
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Man, sometimes I wish I could separate artists and their art, but there are so many instances where an artist's 'controversial' (to put it lightly) opinions or actions seep into their art anyway. Yes, there are a lot of examples where someone's art carries no hint of its creator's crimes, but then you've got youtube videos where creators make 'jokes' about violent or abusive behaviour, which then surprise everyone when they turn out to be true.

My ability to look past someone's ignorant or hateful opinions of things decreases dramatically when their work continues to perpetuate such opinions.

Our internet culture as a whole is varied enough that there are a lot of people who don't want to make the separation, and a lot of people who do, so even if you're a serial killer, you'll have people sticking up for you. Even with the youtuber that Strangerous mentioned, I saw a comment of someone saying they'd still watch the videos, so even though the youtuber's internet life will probably never be the same, they'll still have fans. Even if they get arrested for the potentially illegal stuff they may or may not have gotten involved with, they'll probably still have fans of their work. Clearly, it is possible to separate an artist from their art, but it all comes down to personal willingness to do so.
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Two weeks ago, 4:49 PM #9
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Sometimes I can seperate things, sometimes I can't, and I'm not bothered about that. It's not really me making a concious choice, like "ooh no I don't agree with their politics, I'm not reading this any more." It's more like I'd think about reading it, feel sad and uncomfortable and put it off to do something else. And I don't think I'm missing out on something great if I'm avoiding feeling upset, even if the work is good. There's a lot of good stuff out there to enjoy.

I have my own biases. I'd be more likely to drop something if the creator insulted something relevant to me, and held very offensive views than if someone had a similiar attitude to say, religion. Not that I'd consider that acceptable either. I don't think anyone would want to support something knowing the creator would look down on them, thought they were crazy or subhuman or disgusting, and that is something I've had to face before. I think ultimately it is just down to a bunch of very personal, individual factors. We should be allowed to drop something for whatever reason, but also to keep enjoying something if we are able to seperate.
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Two weeks ago, 5:26 PM #10
Eaton Pye

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JammyTheBirb: We should be allowed to drop something for whatever reason, but also to keep enjoying something if we are able to seperate.


I think that's the key- the difference between a personal reaction/choice and mob rule. On one level, of course, it is a personal choice to join the mob and add to its power, but there is a qualitative difference between this and simply not buying a comic book. I find these career-destroying campaigns of reaction to something in an artist's personal life rather alarming, especially considering how little proof is necessary to establish guilt in the public eye. And even a lot of attacks based on content itself are insane- Mark Twain is a bigot because he has a character called 'Nigger Jim,' therefore his books should be banned from schools.' This is the argument of someone who knows nothing of Twain, hasn't read 'To Those Sitting In Darkness,' has at best a superficial understanding of American history and probably hasn't read Huckleberry Finn. Yet it recurs periodically and people are aroused by this argument. Many of these campaigns reflect an enthusiasm to be judgmental in the absence of any real understanding of what's going on.

Yes, serial killers are bad, but they are also rare and don't significantly represent the targets of the Morality Police.
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Two weeks ago, 7:33 PM #11
Chernobog

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It can be a challenge, but I think one ultimately should try to seperate an artist from his/her work on a casual level if the work itself is what it meant to stand out, and not the artist's own vitriol or misdeeds. The work is effectively immortal and made no choices of its own, so if it's not propaganda or meant to hurt, why not let it live beyond the years of the creator?

I had a similar issue with the works of Wagner when I was younger. I liked what he made, but I couldn't get behind him at all for being a wanton anti-semite. But then, his works are like independent children of him that don't befit his views, so I reasoned it was fair to like the art but not the artist at the same time.
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Two weeks ago, 8:35 PM #12
Zomburai

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Eaton Pye:I think that's the key- the difference between a personal reaction/choice and mob rule. On one level, of course, it is a personal choice to join the mob and add to its power, but there is a qualitative difference between this and simply not buying a comic book.


So does something as simple as saying on a comments section on an article or post about, say, a single issue of a particular comics issue, "This creator puts his money towards the Murder the Homeless Foundation, and so I won't be buying this comic" count as "joining the mob"?

I ask because I feel like there's a conflation of directed mobs and things that just straight piss off the same amount of people as a mob and thereby assume malicious intent where there is none.
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Two weeks ago, 9:08 PM #13
Eaton Pye

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You seem to be making a wilfull misreading. I have clearly supported making your own individual choices about who you like, support, etc. However, to jump on the internet bandwagon and say, 'So and so did this so I will never buy his books' is obviously mob activity, and a different thing altogether. And yes, you have the right and ability to join the mob, and you don't have to know a goddamned thing about the artist or the work or anything else to do it. That doesn't mean you should, though.

Compare your scenario to "X made a homophobic remark over dinner so I won't be buying his comic." As an internal choice, fine, but the fact that you announce it is political. What's your intention? To pat yourself on the back for your superior ethics? To enlist the support of others in boycotting the comic or otherwise punishing the author? Did you hear the remark yourself? Can you prove it to others? Do you know the entire context? This is why I raised the issue of Nigger Jim. Anybody condemning Samuel Clemens as a racist is an ignorant asshole, but they have garnered lots of support in the public realm. I think it's important not to participate in that, even if I think someone has done something I don't like. We live in an age where 'facts' are rather elastic and people make judgment on them according to their own narrow perspective, often for ulterior motives. I prefer not to be part of that process.
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Two weeks ago, 9:30 PM #14
deo101
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I mean... if a creator is homophobic and someone points that out, it's probably a gay person warning other gay people about it.

It's more a notice of "hey, this person isn't great because of X reason and if that bothers you then you might not want to consume their content" instead of "you are not allowed to read their stories because I don't agree with them, join my mob"

I'm not joining a mob by not supporting people who want people like me dead or stripped of rights... I'm protecting myself and it's different. Just because someone alerted me to the problem doesn't make it less of a problem
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Two weeks ago, 9:51 PM #15
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I can't say there's one clear line in how bad an artist should be for me to drop their creations altogether, there are more like multiple variables at play. How they're weighted is entirely subjective, and that list is not exhaustive:

- How bad are/were they?
Because some flaws are simply more forgivable than others. And there are levels to the same flaws.

- Did they show growth in their problematic aspect?
The reason I can stand Lovecraft is that he showed self-awareness and expressed shame over his previous views, whereas some others double down when they have an opportunity to know they were wrong.

- Will criticism get them to change?
Is someone's general attitude one that lets them learn? Growth isn't immediate, especially if we're talking about internalised attitudes.

- How much do their views influe on their work?
You can't tell Dali was a fascist by looking at his paintings, even when he intended for his art to express his opinions it was via figurative symbolism. You can very much tell Barjavel was a pedo by reading his books, he was entirely unsubtle about it.

- How much influence do they have on current people's worldview?
One of the reasons it's easier to forgive past artists for things we'd find heinous in our contemporares is that their opinions have less traction to today's public. I won't be moved by learning that some composer supported genociding the Protestants of France nearly as much as by one who supports genociding Rohingyas, because nobody's trying to genocide French Protestants this century so their backing won't enable anyone.

- If it's a past artist, did they have ways to know better than their peers?
Voltaire was highly educated and progressive. Hanging on to antisemitic prejudice the way he did was a lot less excusable than if he had been some self-taught peasant that never met a foreigner.
The same could go with current artists in specific circumstances, like teens who may be conforming to their parents' politics until they've seen a bit more of the world and discover that the views they reflected don't actually match their own values.

- Does enjoying their art end up supporting harmful actions?
Another factor in why we tolerate more from dead people: they don't do anything. Is someone with harmful beliefs acting on them, or helping others do so? The example I can think of is not of an artist, but: Chik-fil-A. While they were funding hate groups, any money given to them helped them fund anti-gay propaganda in Africa, where it absolutely has gotten people killed. If some local diner's owner happened to have the same views but didn't actually pour money into inciting murder, patronizing either of them is not morally identical.
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Two weeks ago, 10:05 PM #16
Zomburai

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Eaton Pye:Compare your scenario to "X made a homophobic remark over dinner so I won't be buying his comic." As an internal choice, fine, but the fact that you announce it is political.


Everything's already political. Trying to stay out of making political statements is a political act.

I mean, my signature should kind of give away how I feel about this. XD
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Two weeks ago, 10:18 PM #17
Eaton Pye

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Zomburai:Everything's already political. Trying to stay out of making political statements is a political act.



Depending on how one defines political, yes. But it's disingenuous to conflate public actions with private actions. Your life, of course, is an open book and you welcome the Panopticon and are always willing to put your life and livelihood at the mercy of the Court Of Public Opinion, but not all of us are so pure.

Merged Doublepost:

deo101:I mean... if a creator is homophobic and someone points that out, it's probably a gay person warning other gay people about it.

It's more a notice of "hey, this person isn't great because of X reason and if that bothers you then you might not want to consume their content" instead of "you are not allowed to read their stories because I don't agree with them, join my mob"

I'm not joining a mob by not supporting people who want people like me dead or stripped of rights... I'm protecting myself and it's different. Just because someone alerted me to the problem doesn't make it less of a problem


The problem I see with whole homophobia discourse (and the same basic problem applies to many other subjects), is that terms like 'homophobia' have no fixed meaning, but are instead equivalent to battle ensigns designating a side in a conflict. Strictly speaking, few of the people accused of homophobia meet the clinical definition, and there are a series of conflations and escalations associated with the term that often lack evidence or reason. For instance, a person telling a 'homophobic joke' however loosely you might define homophobia, is not necessarily someone who wants to kill homosexuals or deprive them of their rights. Mothers-in-law are the target of many unkind jokes, but in fact hardly anyone making the jokes wants to herd them into concentration camps.

It seems to be considered 'turnabout is fairplay' for gays and their allies to attack the livelihoods of people who may not particularly like gay people but have no intention to harm them and whose work has nothing to do with them, on the basis the gays have been and sometimes still are harmed by people who do more closely fit the definition of homophobe. Besides the ethical issues with this idea, it's extremely shortsighted politically. And, precisely the same arguments, either way, can be made about racial, ethnic, religious and gender issues.

I think that people who indulge in these activities against people who are not attacking them, but merely have something in common with people who are or might in the future attack them, are being manipulated into a very unhealthy position- whichever side of the particular issue they are on.
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Two weeks ago, 10:36 PM #18
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I really want to see what your example of a "homophobic joke" made by someone who doesn't hate gay people looks like. Like, I'm having trouble thinking of any.
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Two weeks ago, 10:36 PM #19
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While it is impossible to completely separate the artist from their art, it is possible to enjoy the latter while condemning the former.

You cannot just ignore it. If your favorite author/artist/actor/musician/streamer is a bad person, you can't pretend they aren't, or argue that they can't be a bad person because a bad person couldn't have made such great works. But, you don't have to stop enjoying something just because the creator turns out to be a shithead.

Consider H.P. Lovecraft. He is generally considered to have been really, really goddamn racist. Like even by the standards of the time. And it definitely influenced his work. But three things let me still enjoy his stories. First, he's long dead and all his stuff is in the public domain, I can enjoy it while being sure that not a cent of mine is going towards promoting racism. Second, he generally kept it metaphorical - his stories were about strange eldritch beings, and while he might have intended them as a metaphor for how all other races are inferior, it's actually pretty hard to even notice, without knowing to look for it (with a few glaring exceptions). Third... he was so racist that it actually doesn't even translate well to the modern day. Like he was racist against the Germans and Italians and the French, considering them non-white. Like I don't know a single person he would have been fine with. Reading The Rats in the Walls, and looking beyond just the name of the cat, you can see he was terrified that even if you can trace your ancestry back to Britain for a thousand years, you might still be impure because maybe there are some dirty Celts in your family tree. It's a form of racism that comes off as baffling, not as evil. It conjures the image of Lovecraft as a neurotic, paranoid shut-in, debilitated by some kind of anxiety or similar mental illness. So I feel safe in recommending his works (except that one poem, eugh) because I can't really see them leading others into his hateful ideas.

Consider David Mustaine (frontman for the thrash metal band Megadeth). He was always known to be an asshole, just the story of how he got kicked out of Metallica proves that. Even when he became that really obnoxious sort of born-again christian, I kept listening because it wasn't affecting his work. But he made some good albums. I actually really liked Endgame... until I learned he actually believes most of that stuff, it wasn't just mining conspiracy theories for cool imagery. Yeah, turns out Mustaine actually thought Obama was from Kenya and FEMA was going to be building concentration camps and the Antichrist was upon us, time to buy a bajillion guns and start shooting cops. That kind of ruined that album for me, and definitely soured me on the later albums. (It probably helped that the very next one was objectively bad, even ignoring Mustaine's deranged ramblings). Because his political beliefs (which I classify as "evil") started being reflected in his works, I stopped following them. I'll still listen to Countdown to Extinction or Rust in Peace, back from when his political commentary was "boy nuclear war would sure kill everyone for no reason, that seems bad" and "hunting endangered species seems like a bad idea". (Heavy metal is not a genre known for subtlety, in case you didn't notice)

Consider Orson Scott Card. I liked Ender's Game, and really liked Speaker for the Dead. But after that, I learned that he was donating quite a bit to anti-LGBT groups... so I made sure to buy the rest of the books used, and didn't watch the movie. (Again, it really helped that Xenocide and Children of the Mind were just objectively bad (fight me), and the last one I read, Ender's Shadow, was just a mediocre alt-POV, so I felt and still feel no need to read the rest.) I never saw a hint of it in the books I read (though I did find some more bizarre racism in CotM), but knowing any profits might go to causes I disagree with was enough to make me make sure he wasn't going to profit off my reading. I'll still recommend (some of) his books, I'll just do so by loaning out my copy instead of telling you to buy an ebook.

That's sort of a long way of explaining my litmus test for "can I still enjoy these works despite the creator being a fucknozzle?". 1) by enjoying them, am I in any roundabout way financing groups I do not want financed?, and 2) do their evil beliefs come across in their work, in a way that effectively promotes said evil.
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Two weeks ago, 10:48 PM #20
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Ah, totally depends on what they did and all.

Admittedly webcomics, are a bit more... personal, the webcomics community as a whole is a more smaller scale medium, so when someone is a twat waffle it's more of a noticeable thing and I might not check out their work to begin with.

I don't think I've ever been a fan of someone that turned out to be like Jared of subway, so I can't say how I'd react to a sudden revelation like that. Hopefully I never have to.:D
Unless someone I'm already fan of did some truly horrific crime, I don't think I'd stop enjoying their work.

No thought crimes will affect how I feel about a work either though. I don't care about the jokes they make. I don't care about most of the things authors or artists think, really; who they voted for, what their religion is, whether they put pineapples on their pizza, etc.
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