rockinlibrarian: (love)
This is what I woke up pondering in the middle of the night. I might blame Cat for creating a whole blog for such Lycoris-type questions for us to ponder (and this one I answered is sort of similar). Or I might blame this great post from Cheryl Klein and a series of tweets from Rae Carson I read yesterday, both of which discussed how helpful it is to take an objective look at stuff YOU don't like but other people LOVE just to figure out what it is that it must be somehow doing right. I might blame a chance run-in with one of those Martin-Freeman-haters, who allow the fact that my Imaginary Husband can't stop running his mouth and has said a few stupid things in his day completely sour them and blind them to the far greater amount of AWESOME he has done and said, and I get cranky when people irrationally hate people I love. I might blame violent football players, because we keep hearing about THEM a lot lately, too. Most likely it was all these things swirling together, keeping me up, making me wonder if I should just GET up to write this but then worrying that I'd fall back asleep just when I was SUPPOSED to wake up, instead.*

There's something in online culture I might call the "Your-Fave-Is-Problematic" syndrome. At least, it's most obvious in online culture, but in light of Cat's question about forgiveness, I guess it exists everywhere, in any situation. It's this idea some people have that, if they can see there's something wrong with something that other people like, suddenly it's all "THAT THING IS WRONG! HOW CAN YOU LIKE A WRONG THING! YOU OBVIOUSLY DON'T KNOW THAT THING IS WRONG IF YOU STILL LIKE THAT THING! STOP IT!" That's what Klein** and Carson were talking about in the things I linked above-- instead of immediately tearing down what other people love, you might want to focus on why they love it and you might learn something from it?

But how much wrong IS too wrong? Don't people kind of have a responsibility to point out problems that need to be changed? How much problem negates all the good? Where's the line between forgiveness and letting injustice get away with it?

Let's take our violent football players. These are people who have done things both immoral and criminal, and yet so many people are willing to overlook reprehensible behavior by their favorite players because the game is that important to them. The game's not that important to me, though. I don't feel like football really offers the world anything it can't get elsewhere, and certainly it's not like there aren't other players to take the place of reprehensible players, if necessary, either.

But what happens when you get into ART? Art, where everyone has a unique voice, and one silenced voice can't simply be replaced by another? I know fans-- and or former fans-- of people like Woody Allen and Marion Zimmer Bradley have had to wrestle with these feelings when their artists turned out to have horrible dark sides. And you have artists who've harbored horrible opinions-- like H.P. Lovecraft might be a LEETLE more excused by his time period than Orson Scott Card is today. But I haven't had to wrestle with those things, never having held strong opinions about the art of any of those people.

But shall we discuss John Lennon? John Lennon with his history of domestic violence? John Lennon with his art that IS very important to me? I admit I can sometimes feel conflicted about John, particularly in the face of his many more blind-worshipping fans. Dudes, he was NOT the sole or even main creative force in the Beatles. Dudes, he REALLY wasn't a paragon of peace. But if I'm not playing devil's advocate against his idolizers, I forgive him his faults. For one thing, he DID change his ways, in the end. Surely we can't still hold him bound for sins that he himself came to regret as well? And for another thing-- well, "Across the Universe" will never not make me blissfully happy, and nothing about its author can ever change that. --Could it? WOULD it have been different if he'd remained an unrepentant wifebeater? Maybe people would see him differently. And yet not a note of "Across the Universe" would have changed.***

This wasn't what kept me tossing and turning. Kevin Clash was. This is the one instance where the sins of the artist, uh, clashed so dramatically with my admiration for him that I still can't work it out. It still makes me angry, still feels like a betrayal. WHY, Kevin? Sure, other fallen types have done worse, but you're NOT SUPPOSED to fall. You've done SO MUCH, SO MUCH GOOD for children around the world. You've done so much for early literacy and you've brought so much joy. You should be a hero! You WERE a hero! But heroes are allowed SMALL, PERSONAL vices, like addiction or bad tempers or careless negligence. Statutory rape? Even if technically "consensual"? Can you still be a hero with that taint on you, or not? It DOESN'T erase the millions of people whose lives he's improved through his work with the Sesame Workshop. How can that be erased? And yet, anymore when I see Elmo, I just get sad.

I suppose part of the solution is to stop dealing in absolutes. Stop having heroes or villains. I just wish it was easier for people to accept that in-between place where reality lies.

*So I've also been working on another finding-myself book, Wishcraft, by Barbara Sher, as recced by my dear friend Angie, and the other day the exercise was figuring out the perfect environment for me to thrive in. The most important detail I came up with was NOT HAVING TO DO ANYTHING AT A PARTICULAR TIME in the morning, so I could wake up when I woke up and immediately grab my journal and just write until whenever, without HAVING to get up so as to feed children or get them to school or, on weekends, entertain a husband. I JUST WANT A MORNING JOURNALING TIME THAT WON'T REQUIRE ME TO WAKE UP BEFORE I'M READY.

**TECHNICALLY, she was quoting someone else in her post, but she posted it in the first place so as to talk about this, and she's the one whose name I know, so I'm giving her credit here ALTHOUGH TECHNICALLY I KNOW THAT'S NOT PERFECTLY ACCURATE, shut up you Amy's-Posts-are-Problematic folks.


Date: 2014-09-23 04:35 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
It's always difficult deciding where to draw the line, and what's just too much to separate the artist from the art. For instance, if an artist has an affair, I can say I might not personally approve, but that has nothing to do with their work. But there are lines a person can cross where you pretty much have to dismiss their work as well. I wouldn't think it would be particularly appropriate to be a fan of Hitler's paintings or Charles Manson's music, even though these things don't directly relate to the killing. I have to admit that, for my part, it can also have something to do with how I was introduced to the artist. I've never read anything by Orson Scott Card, so I mostly know him as a homophobe. If I were a fan before I knew that, it might well be different. With Clash in particular, I think the fact that he worked for and with kids made the whole thing seem like a betrayal.

Date: 2014-09-24 01:00 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
I was thinking how the working-with-children issue does seem to make things worse, but in some ways I want to say that's unfair, because I think of how many teacher friends I have who have to use code names on the Internet because they could get in trouble for any careless picture of them with a glass of wine, or a slipped-out swear word, or... whatever. On the other hand, statutory rape is a much bigger betrayal of trust than mere evidence that people who work with children aren't perfect angels.

Hitler and Manson are hobbyist-artists, professional mass murderers. If someone is a professional artist and only a hobbyist-murderer... okay maybe not THAT extreme...

Date: 2014-09-27 04:34 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Yeah, I don't think swear words and wine count as betrayals of children so much as bosses overreacting. Statutory rape is bad in ANY case, but it kind of seems worse when you're trusted with kids.

Date: 2014-09-24 05:34 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] catarina niza (from
Compassion, empathy, forgiveness (not condoning) and grey areas is what I know is best, in every aspect. But I'm a hypocrite because I have a very, VERY hard time to not be blinded by raw white rage whenever I hear of certain things happening - EVEN though I know human beings are all equal in nature and the evil that has risen in some people could very well have arisen in me or you if our lives and circumstances had been different.

Funny how every time I get angry I also get nervous because deep down I KNOW I am not, nor is anyone, in any position to be throwing stones. But still.

Date: 2014-09-25 12:46 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
It's where "hate the sin not the sinner" comes in. You can be angry because they DID THAT without denying their humanity.

Thinking about who can throw stones though makes me think on the other hand about what happens when two people and/or factions argue, and instead of focusing on one problem at a time they just sling accusations back and forth. "Well, what if I...? At least I didn't... like YOU!"


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