Art Thou Thine Art?

Amy recently addressed a subject I’ve thought about every once in a while, that of separating the artist from the art. I tend to think this is generally a good idea. Not that you can totally separate the two, but you can like someone’s work even if they come across as a jerk, and alternatively think an artist seems cool but not enjoy their work. I do wonder, however, where you have to draw the line. As much as I endorse the separation, liking the work of someone who’s a murderer or a rapist or a white supremacist would make me uneasy. Hey, I loved the Naked Gun movies, but felt a little weird watching them after O.J. Simpson was arrested for murder. Amy mentioned Woody Allen as someone who’s problematic, as even though I don’t think he’s been convicted of anything, it does seem likely that he’s a sexual predator. I was never a huge Woody Allen fan, but I think the movies of his that I’ve seen, as well as the basic idea of a dorky, awkward guy being famous. The thing is, while I know a lot of people have turned against Woody, it doesn’t seem like the entertainment industry has at all. Same deal with Mel Gibson, who has no problem with his father being a Holocaust denier.

Mind you, I was never a fan of his anyway. In my senior year of high school, I threw up during a video of Gibson talking about playing Hamlet. I don’t think Gibson actually made me sick (it was probably my breakfast), but it seemed fitting. When I was in college, a lot of the people I knew loved Braveheart, but I was pretty indifferent toward it. Which brings me to another point, which is that the whole thing is never totally objective, and people are probably more willing to make excuses for people they like. Not always, but often. I’ve seen a lot of comments along the lines of, “Sure, Orson Scott Card is a huge bigot, but he’s a good writer!” Maybe he is, but I’ve never read anything by him, and the fact that the main thing I know about him is his homophobia makes me not want to.

There’s also the issue of evaluating people based on their own time, which isn’t to say that racism or antisemitism was ever okay, just that for much of history it was so commonplace that people (white people of Christian heritage, anyway) probably didn’t even think much about it. I have problems with some of the casual racism in the works of L. Frank Baum, and I get the impression that he was relatively progressive compared to his contemporaries. So I can’t say I have an all-encompassing answer, but I do think it’s important to evaluate both the positives and the negatives of each artist.

This entry was posted in Art, Authors, Celebrities, L. Frank Baum, Oz, Oz Authors, Prejudice and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Art Thou Thine Art?

  1. Pingback: Now I Eat Humble Pie | VoVatia

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