The Problem with Artists

Jennifer Laughran has a great post up about what happens when an artist you admire turns out to be a jerk (or worse). Can you separate the art from the artist? I’ve posted about this question before, but I think Jennifer handles the topic really well. In reference to Orson Scott Card and Ender’s Game, she says:

“Do I want to line OSC’s pockets with gold? Heck no. I don’t pay for his books anymore, personally (though I certainly did as a kid). If somebody asks me what I think of him, I’ll say this: He is a very good storyteller. Ender’s Game is probably one of my most re-read books of all time. He’s excellent at starting series (less successful at finishing them). He’s extremely problematic personally/politically.”

I think the “extremely problematic” is key here. Usually, if you liked an artist’s work enough to be deeply upset at their personal failings, it’s hard to cast aside that art. There are some artists I try to make excuses for, or at least ignore their personal issues and focus on the art itself. For others, I refuse to read/watch/listen to any of their work after finding out something awful about them. But as Jennifer says, people are extremely problematic, and so it’s hard to have one clear response to this issue.

Make sure to click through and read Jennifer’s full post. The comments are also very interesting.

4 thoughts on “The Problem with Artists

  1. Oooh, thanks for sharing the link! What a great read (and Jennifer’s thoughts on OSC mirror my own almost exactly), and, you’re right, the comments are great! Most of them basically say what I’m thinking, but it’s always an interesting subject to delve into a little bit. Though not too much, or else my head starts to just hurt and I have to lie down for a bit.

    All in all, I think it’s definitely imperative, if not necessary, to separate the artist from the art work. Even artists I love, admire, fangirl over terribly, have little things that I don’t agree with. Humans are humans, and they’re all going to be flawed…just some more so than others.

  2. A girlfriend and I were discussing this as re: George R. R. Martin yesterday. He recently said something about how folks who write fan fiction do so because they lack creativity to establish their own worlds. I’ve neither written nor read fan fiction, but a couple of my favorite writers love dabbling in it. I wouldn’t dismiss them offhand because they write fan fiction. So I found myself pondering this, too. Some artists I admire have very different opinions for me that don’t bother me, because they’re rooted in knowledge and consideration. But I’m bugged when anyone categorically dismisses one group of people. Bugged enough to stop reading? I’ll sort that out on a case by case basis, I suppose!

    • I didn’t hear that about George R. R. Martin. I’ve only gotten about halfway through Game of Thrones (book 1) and honestly, I don’t think Martin should be throwing any stones. 😉

      Seriously though, very much agreed about it being a case-by-case basis. I think it all happens on a huge scale of how much I like the art and how heinous the artist is.

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