Separating the art from the artist

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In light of the recent Penny Arcade controversy, I saw a number of comments from people stating that they are now done with all things Penny Arcade.

I didn't want to derail those threads but I thought this rises the question about if/should you separate the art from the artist, or should you take a moral stand against something becaues of the opinions/actions of the artist even if you think the art is good. For example, do you watch the films of Roman Polanski even knowing about his past?

Personally, on the most part, I tend to judge the art for its own merits because if you don't separte the two then you end up going down a very slippy slope as I doubt very many artists are clean cut. Am I not going to listen to The Smiths because Morrissey says some very strange things? However there is a part of me that thinks that there has to be a line, and that might be if their opinions/actions start to affect their work, for example a homophobic rap star using the word baggins as every other word or a director making a thinly veiled propagenda film.

So where do other people stand on this? Am I wrong for thinking that The Pianist is a great film despite the fact the director has a very questionable past? Or should we be judging things on their own merits? by not letting our opinions on the artists cloud our judgement of the art itself.

I can enjoy the art produced by nutters without financially supporting them. If I feel that an artist is worth supporting, I do. If I don't, I won't steal or pirate their works. I'll to view the stuff I'm interested in free mediums. If I can't, I don't go out of my way to find it.

See The Ethics of Voting With Your Wallet Re: Political/Religious/Etc. Values.

The short form for me: It's a balance. How big is this problem? How much does it mean to me? What am I willing to give up to make it clear that there's a problem?

A lot of people right now are saying things like: "I have a couple of PA strips up on the wall of my cubicle, and I'm thinking about taking them down because they make me feel sick to my stomach." Not being able to enjoy the good parts, because of the bad part? That's a pretty good sign that things have gotten rather dire. And at that point, it's up to everybody to decide what they want to do. Whether they want to support something. Whether they want to publicly remove support from something in an attempt to make their viewpoint clear. etc.

Certainly, no one has any moral responsibility to [em]not[/em] factor the fact that PA makes them feel nauseated into their decision about whether to attend PAX.

I would be ok with still going to PAX if Mike and Jerry didn't benefit financially from it. It's less about not wanting to support their "art" than not wanting to help them make their mortgage payments.

I don't watch Roman Polanski films either. For me, I approach the artistic merit/moral objection dichotomy on a case-by-case basis.

onewild wrote:

However there is a part of me that thinks that there has to be a line, and that might be if their opinions/actions start to affect their work, for example a homophobic rap star using the word baggins as every other word or a director making a thinly veiled propagenda film.

This is where I draw the line personally. I've enjoyed books like Ender's Game (and it's 3 direct sequels) despite disagreeing with the author's personal beliefs (which I don't believe overtly surface in those works). The recent PA incident crossed the line because their staff did not do a sufficient job vetting a specific PAX panel which I felt was antagonistic to several groups of people.

I think that is the luxury of the time we live in. We have so many avenues to enjoy art that given time we will be able to enjoy the art while not explicitly supporting the artist who has objectionable views or behaviors.

The same thing goes for the opposite with things like kickstarter where we can support an artist (mutliple times even) we feel should be promoted whether we intend to enjoy their art or not.

Part of the problem for me is that I'm sure that if I dug deep enough, just about every artist I like would have opinions that I think are horrible and repugnant.

Chinatown is a terrific movie even if Polanski is a creep or criminal. If you're a fan of cinema, you're going to watch it because it's so great and because there's no creepy, pro-child molesty vibe to it. (If you don't want to support Polanski, steal a copy or borrow it from someone)

On the other hand, I stopped reading Iain Banks fiction a few years ago not because he was a creep in real life, but because his fiction spent so much time wallowing in torture. The minds of his characters, which likely reflected a portion of his own mind, were not places I wanted to visit.

So I guess I'm in the "separate the life of the author" camp.

clover wrote:

For me, I approach the artistic merit/moral objection dichotomy on a case-by-case basis.

Seems silly to go about it any other way.

SpacePPoliceman wrote:
clover wrote:

For me, I approach the artistic merit/moral objection dichotomy on a case-by-case basis.

Seems silly to go about it any other way.

It's certainly the most personally convenient method. It's only a problem if you're appealing to a general rule to measure an individual case.

I guess my moral support/participation bar is closely tied to my personal squick factor. I imagine that's the case for a lot of people.

Just so long as I do not have to suffer through accusations to myself because I read Penny-Arcade, or because I truly think Polanski is a film genius.

I once got a lecture about why I should not eat Cheerios that left me awestruck, mostly because I think I was 11 at the time.

I think it comes down, to me, as to whether that personality flows in to the work. I just cannot put up with much of Lovecraft because how how horrendously racist his writing is, as a good example.

That's why Polanski is so convenient an example. His personal behavior was repugnant. The composer Wagner also gets brought up because of his anti-semitism.

Most of the time it's just that X person is kind of an asshole. It's hard to get as worked up about it. It also helps if you're not interested in the work at issue. Ted Nugent seems like an asshole to me, but I don't know any of his songs except Catch Scratch Fever. So I'm more than happy not to buy his albums.

True, Wagner's wedding march was automatically crossed off my list because of that.

Funkenpants wrote:

Ted Nugent seems like an asshole to me, but I don't know any of his songs except Catch Scratch Fever.

That was Nugent? I really need to pay better attention to the classic rock radio station when they say what songs they recently played.

It's much easier after the artist is dead and there aren't issues of enrichment for asshattery to consider. For example: Edgar Degas was a virulent anti-semite. That knowledge doesn't affect my appreciation of his work, but I'm not willing to give Orson Scott Card my money. That doesn't seem fair, but it is how I think.

SpacePPoliceman wrote:
clover wrote:

For me, I approach the artistic merit/moral objection dichotomy on a case-by-case basis.

Seems silly to go about it any other way.

It seems the most rational approach. Humanity has been coping with flawed heroes and celebrities for as long as we've existed and we're no strangers to making such judgments, whether or not we're conscious of the fact.

However, it's pretty clear the PA issue is inherently different for many here on GWJ. Why? Because as gamers and fans, we're not only invested in the message and the point of view expressed in the art, but in the creators as well. For many fans, this was a betrayal of trust. And it hurt.

clover wrote:

True, Wagner's wedding march was automatically crossed off my list because of that.

Ultimately people are going to decide for themselves how to approach it. It's one of those gut level things.

Another example is Leni Riefenstahl, who made Nazi propaganda films in the 1930s. I've watched them because her technique is so good, even though the substance of them is promoting the Nazi government.

Woody Allen is one of the few film directors whose personal life affects the way I see his movies, because he always seems to be playing himself in his movies. He blends his own life with his work so closely that it can be hard to draw the line.

For me, it depends largely on the form of the art. In Polanski's case, he was not the sole progenitor of Chinatown. There were many hundreds of people involved in the production of that piece of art, and while he may have had the most creative input as the director, there's cinematographers, a screenwriter, casting directors and many many other people who contributed creative input, the sum of which is the movie.

I largely had the same response to Shadow Complex, and the controversy surrounding Orson Scott Card's work writing the story. Particularly in that instance, as Card's input was the part of the overall experience that I paid the least attention to. Fact is, the storyline was bollocks, classic Damsel in Distress bullsh*t with a layer of shadowy governmental conspiracy on top of it. The game was an excellent Metroid-vania romp, however, and was thoroughly enjoyable experience, and I felt good about supporting it's makers through my purchase.

PA, on the other hand, is creatively all about Mike and Jerry, so I feel much more justified saying "no" to that. PAX itself, goes more into that grey area, there's many more people involved in putting on that show, not to mention that it is in large part made so wonderful by the community of attendees itself.

Jonman wrote:

For me, it depends largely on the form of the art. In Polanski's case, he was not the sole progenitor of Chinatown. There were many hundreds of people involved in the production of that piece of art, and while he may have had the most creative input as the director, there's cinematographers, a screenwriter, casting directors and many many other people who contributed creative input, the sum of which is the movie.

I largely had the same response to Shadow Complex, and the controversy surrounding Orson Scott Card's work writing the story. Particularly in that instance, as Card's input was the part of the overall experience that I paid the least attention to. Fact is, the storyline was bollocks, classic Damsel in Distress bullsh*t with a layer of shadowy governmental conspiracy on top of it. The game was an excellent Metroid-vania romp, however, and was thoroughly enjoyable experience, and I felt good about supporting it's makers through my purchase.

PA, on the other hand, is creatively all about Mike and Jerry, so I feel much more justified saying "no" to that. PAX itself, goes more into that grey area, there's many more people involved in putting on that show, not to mention that it is in large part made so wonderful by the community of attendees itself.

Jonman, that pretty much nails it for me. Where I disagree with you is that re: PAX itself, the convention has established a separate identity; it needs to be able to make a statement distancing itself from Mike's actions; without that, it's hard to believe that the wonderful aspects aren't going to continue to be pulled down by scandals.

So Ender's Game comes out tomorrow and Orson Scott Card gave a rare interview to Wired as part of the promotion for the movie.

He said something that made me think about this thread again.

Wired[/url]]
Q: This is a terrible segue to my next question, but after the movie happens—it’s been 28 years in the making—is Ender’s Game finally over for you?

A: No, I still have a sequel that I’m working on. In terms of film, Ender’s Game is actually the beginning, not the end. No one will touch anything else of mine until they see how Ender’s Game does. Unless the film absolutely tanks, which I’m not expecting, then the floodgates could open. I have probably a dozen books that are much, much more doable on film than Ender’s Game.

I'm curious if Card's statement--that he stands to make a lot more money from future projects if Ender's Game is successful, some of which would be channeled into very distasteful organizations--changes anyone's mind about whether or not they're going to see the movie.

Orson Scott Card: Mentor, Friend, Bigot (Rachel Edidin, Wired Underwire) wrote:

I’m not going to see Ender’s Game. This is not a revelation. I’m queer. My opinion of Orson Scott Card’s politics and his flimsy rationalizations is on record. I don’t buy books he writes. I don’t watch the movies based on them.

But I’ve still got a paperback on my shelf — battered and worn in the way beloved books get, spine floppy, corners bent. On the title page, in faded blue ballpoint pen, it’s inscribed: “To Rachel – a friend of Ender.”

It’s not wrong. It would be easier if it were.

Still not going to watch it.

Gorilla.800.lbs wrote:

Still not going to watch it.

+1

yep. Still haven't played Shadow Complex either.

aspect wrote:

yep. Still haven't played Shadow Complex either.

He doesn't get money from purchases of Shadow Complex, if that helps. Understandable if it doesn't though.

...Umm... looking at his book list...

What exactly is he expecting to be more filmable?

The Homecoming series? Probably about as good as that God's Not Dead movie being made... and even then, with a "robot god" it's likely to alienate the very people who would be most accepting of its message.

Alvin Maker? Nope.

Treason? Might work for those Tea Party members who actually think our country is on the brink of collapse?

Seriously, this dude, outside of that one series, writes very bizarre fiction. Having read some of it, some more to completion than others... nothing there is as bankable as he thinks it is. I suspect his next movie (if that even comes to pass, which I doubt when producers/whomever start reading the other books) will bomb, and that will be the end of it.

I'm still going to see this one. My wife is excited, she's reading the book on Kindle now (though I lent it to her, rather than let her buy it). I've been wanting to see this movie since I was like 12. But I'll also be making a donation to a local gay rights advocacy group shortly afterwards. I get why people wouldn't want to go see it, normally I'd be right there with them... but... I just can't resist this time. Gotta see it. *shrugs*

Hey, I thought Alvin Maker was really good the first couple of books.

Then he made a solid gold living plow for some reason and my brain went poof.

Yeah, I gotta agree on Ender's game being the most filmable of the bunch. Treason would be a pretty good one, though. Maybe he's referring to other parts of the Ender's Game series and even in that case I'm not sure "filmable" = "watchable".

It's been a lot of years since I read it, but I think The Worthing Saga wouldn't be awful if done right. In some ways it might be better than Ender's Game.

Yup, still not going to see this. Loved the book as a kid, but can't support Card.

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