There is a question that seems to come in and out of our public consciousness.
Does it matter if the creator of something we enjoy is a deplorable human being? Can we love the art and hate the artist, as it were? Can we, and should we, separate the thing from the person responsible for its existence?
A few years ago the argument was centered around Chris Brown after he beat the shit out of Rhianna. More recently the subject of such debate has been Orson Scott Card for his very public homophobic views, Woody Allen’s abuse of his stepdaughter, which Allen still denies, and the horrific anti-homosexual legislation and public assaults on LGBTQ folk in Russia where they are currently hosting the Sochi Olympics.
And it is the Olympics that has really gotten to me and prompted this post.
Because I LOVE THE OLYMPICS.
A lot. I sometimes watch old opening ceremonies on Youtube JUST FOR FUNZIES.
I know. I’m a freak. I’m totally fine with this.
I love the idea that we come together and put our differences aside in the spirit of sportsmanship blah blah blah.
But on the other side is, obviously, Russia hating the queers. And not just hating them, but like… beating them to death.
(I don’t have a funny gif for this because it so utterly and completely not funny.)
So that’s a thing that’s obviously not okay.
And at first I did watch the olympics. I watched the opening ceremony– in which they used a whole lot of music by Tchaikovsky who was TOOOOOOTALLLYY GAY so that made me smile at the irony. But then as I kept reading about all the horrible things happening to LGBTQ folk in Russia I just couldn’t watch anymore. I just couldn’t.
And I found out that months ago Steven Fry wrote an open letter advocating for a boycott of the Sochi Olympics.
So all that has been percolating in my head and the whole Woody Allen thing and this post on Book Riot about not reading books or watching movies by people who are horrible humans, and I decided that– for me–it’s all one thing.
For me, the answer to this question of whether it matters if the creator of something is a monster is:
YES IT FUCKING MATTERS!!!
YES ABSOLUTELY WE SHOULD STOP CONSUMING THAT THING. STOP BUYING THAT SHIT OR WATCHING THE SHOWS.
Because money makes the world go round and in a capitalist society our power is in where we spend our money.
It’s the way I stand up and say “No.”
People (and by “people” I pretty much mean “men who are usually white”) beat their girlfriends and abuse their stepdaughters and discriminate against large portions of the population because they feel entitled to do it and because they think they’ll get away with it without facing any consequences.
And they DO get away with it because they DON’T have to face any consequences.
They get away with it because we say, “but I like that movie” or “I like his music” or “but Figure Skating!” and we keep buying their shit.
Teacher Tip 101: WHEN YOU REWARD BAD BEHAVIOR IT ONLY GIVES INCENTIVE FOR THE BAD BEHAVIOR TO CONTINUE!!!
As a society when we continue to buy things produced by people who do horrible things we only reinforce the arrogance of the privileged thinking that they can do whatever the fuck they want.
If literally no one bought another of Chris Brown’s albums after he assaulted Rihanna, if no one ever watched another Woody Allen movie after learning that he abused his stepdaughter*, if no one bought Orson Scott Card’s books ever again, maybe it would make men think twice before they assaulted, abused or discriminated against people.
If we, an entire society, sent the message that that kind of behavior WOULD SIMPLY NOT BE TOLERATED, if beating, abusing and discriminating in your personal life meant paying the price of total and complete failure in your professional life, THESE THINGS WOULD STOP. The risk would stop being worth it. And we would have other artists make movies, create books and make music that would not do terrible things. There are like 300 million people in this country, I’m pretty sure at least 3 of them can rap, write or direct.
And if you think that professional failure is too high a price to pay for the crimes committed, I would remind you that WOMEN in this country go from highly praised artist to checkout counter joke if they wear the “wrong” dress on the fucking red carpet.
I can’t stop people from hitting their girlfriends or from abusing the girls around them or from trying to keep me from having the equal rights I’m supposed to have guaranteed under the Constitution. I can’t stop whales from being captured, or LGBTQ folk being beaten in the streets. But I can stop handing over my money to the people who do and support these things.
It’s the way I stand up and say “No.”
And on the flip side, I choose to give my patronage to things I want to support. I buy books by LGBTQ authors or authors that support LGBTQ rights when I may otherwise just check it out from the library.
I choose to see films in theaters with female directors rather then wait to rent it.
I shop at stores that treat their employees well and support causes I believe in.
I support things and people who support me and the change I want to see in the world.
I mean, you can do what you want, but I put my money where my mouth is, or isn’t as the case may be.
*To those who say Allen’s abuse is “alleged” – girls and women do not make up stories of abuse for fun. The vast majority of abuse cases go unreported because of exactly this kind of scrutiny and shaming that gets heaped on victims of abuse. We live in a culture that gaslights and silences women and girls and doubting the reports made by victims only supports their abusers.