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One highly opinionated feminist YA nerd's twisted, snarky and informative journey through the genre's perils, pitfalls and sparkles.

What makes you say no?

Thanks for all the great comments my last couple of posts got pertaining to Bitch-gate and the discussion of feminist YA. As always feel free to continue commenting, I am so glad that the dust is dying down and we can actually have a proper talk on the topic. But the world continues to turn and there are always other fish to fry.

It's no secret that as well as being a book nerd I am a film buff. So when I saw that there was going to be an adaptation of the play God of Carnage starring one of my favourite actresses Kate Winslet, I was very excited, a feeling that only grew when I noticed Christoph Waltz, John C. Reilly and Jodie Foster had also signed on. But my happiness was short lived when I noticed 4 words that meant I would never allow myself to pay money to see this film:

Directed by Roman Polanski.

I have the same basic attitude to Polanski as I do to Orson Scott Card; I don't want to give any of my money to either of them. In both instances, I can acknowledge their talent and influence but both are cases where their personal beliefs and actions have become too much for me to put aside and ignore in favour of judging their work based solely on its merits. I know Ender's Game is a good book and I know he's a good writer but I cannot review one of his books because all I can see and think about is his abhorrent views on homosexuality and how much money he donated to causes supporting Proposition 8 (check the comments in The Book Smugglers' review of his latest book for such discussion). With Polanski all I can think about is a man getting away with drugging and raping a 13 year old (and I continue to shudder at so many people in Hollywood whom I respect supporting him despite this disgusting thing he did.)

Sometimes I can separate the author and their work very easily - I'm a huge Disney fan even though Uncle Walt himself was a racist anti-Semitic sexist jerk who ratted out innocent people during the McCarthy years - but there are instances where it's impossible for me to do so. In the case of Scott Card it's because I can't allow myself to give the man money ergo indirectly donating to causes I oppose with every fibre of my being. Even though, I've been told, his work doesn't contain any instances of him expressing such views, it's pretty much impossible for me to separate the man and his work, especially since he chooses to put himself out there as a vocal anti-gay rights person.

This sort of stuff extends to other media for me - I avoid anything involving Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen, Chris Brown, etc. It may be a bit ridiculous to some, especially since me trying to avoid every film or piece of entertainment involving the countless people in the film/TV industry who signed that petition supporting Polanski would mean I couldn't watch any films ever (I did try for a couple of weeks), but it's what works for me. But it does make me something of a hypocrite since I enjoy the works of people whom I often have disagreements with or oppose on certain views - I love Stephen Moffat's work on Sherlock and Doctor Who even though his frequent misogynism bugs the hell out of me. I don't know what my mini protest is ever going to do with this sort of stuff - OSC's not going to stop being a bigot just because I refuse to buy his works, same for Brandon Sanderson and James Ellroy - but as I said, it works for me and it's no skin off my back never getting to read another Ender novel.

Where is the line for you? Can you separate the author and the work easier than I can?

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7 comments:

duckgirlie said...

For me, it's different circumstances for every one. OSC, the money thing is definitely a big part of it, and if someone else who's work I admired was donating to oppose a cause I felt strongly about I'd definitely have to re-asses my readership of their material. Polanksi... Is obvious, for me, anyway. What he's convicted of is so reprehensible that I just refuse to engage with his work. I was so upset when so many people I greatly admired put themselves on his side - I was delighted when Emma Thompson took herself off the petition, but there are still an awful amount of awesome ladies on there.
Chris Brown could have gone the other way, I think. I accept that it's possible to do something horrible and apologise and truly repent for it, and gain forgiveness. But his massive self-pity thing was just... fuck off.

Speaking of Chris Brown, did you detect a certain coolness towards him on SNL? The cast were noticeably squeezed to the very sides of the stage, and that comment from Russell about the lighting director being a true example of what it means to be a man was... odd.

inverarity said...

I probably draw the line similarly to you.

I know Brandon Sanderson is LDS, but the one statement I've read from him on gay marriage suggested he's not as reactionary on the matter as Orson Scott Card. I didn't get the sense he hates gay people or would like to see them punished, which is definitely the feeling I get from OSC.

Anonymous said...

First, apologies for the Anonymous. My LiveJournal ID Login wasn't working for some reason. I'm future_guardian at LiveJournal.

I normally do not visit author websites/blogs and try not to actively search for information on them because I'd rather not learn my favorite author is really a raging jerk. This is important because writers that are offensive political-wise are avoid at all costs for me, but I also have problems with writers that have fantabulous books but come across poorly if you happen to disagree with them.

For example, there's this fantasy author, Rachel Aaron. She writes one of the funniest traditional/epic fantasy series I've read in...ever. For this alone,her books will always be an auto-buy. As a plus, she has not said anything offensive like the folks mentioned in this post (from what I've read about/from her, she sounds like a reasonable woman). However (and I'm not trying to turn this into a bash, bash, bash fest) she comes across as over-reactionary when folks disagree with her on writing-related topics. God help you if you write a post about "I am getting frustrated with the fantasy genre and here's a substantial explanation for why" and she comes across the post. I love her writing and I'd actually like to see a new series from her, but sometimes I wish I hadn't searched for her blog (which is my fault) and when I buy one of her books I cringe inside.

As I'm looking at this post and the two comments before me, I see I seem to have a high tolerance for stupidity/intolerance.

Sara said...

I, too, struggle to separate a person from their work. Not only when it comes to important things like misogyny, homophobia, violence and raping 13 year old girls but, like future_guardian said above, also with stupidity and general arseholey-ness (it's a word). I love what I've read of Jasper Fforde, but ever since I found out he disapproves of fanfiction I haven't been able to bring myself to buy another book of his. The sheer hypocrisy of a man who explicitly borrows other people's worlds and characters condemning those who explicitly borrow other people's worlds and characters just leaves such a bad taste in my mouth.

I love Stephen Moffatt so I'm sticking my head in the sand on that one. I keep hearing these stories about apalling things he's said in interviews but I'm ignoring it. I love his work on Doctor Who & Sherlock so much and I don't want it spoiled.

As for what difference it can make not giving these people money - I think the answer is none. That doesn't mean it's not a valid course of action. I don't purchase certain brands beacuse of unethical practices and I know full well that it doesn't make the slightest difference to them, but I can not in good conscience give them my money. I would rather my money, however little it is in the grand scheme of things, went to companies that at least try to be ethical.

princessstarr said...

It very much depends. For example, I can appreciate Roman Polanski as a director and his art. As a person, I think he's a self-pitying pervert who got away with something monstrous because 1. he's famous and 2. Sharon Tate's murder (which is something I've heard as a defense for his actions). But that's because I wasn't familiar with the case when I first watched one of his movies.

On the other hand, there's Orson Scott Card. Or Anne Rice. Or Becca Fitzpatrick. I haven't picked up a book by any one of those authors- although people keep telling me that I really need to read Ender's Game, and I'll admit it, I kinda do- because I know what their non-fiction writing views are like, if they're starving for attention, or if they defend very bad actions by their characters. (And sometimes, it's not even a huge issue. I have an author I follow on LJ who I'm debating cutting because I don't like the tone of her posts and her opinion on her own writing.) The more public an author is, it's harder to keep some of their extreme views private. Neil Gaiman does a pretty good job with keeping his private and his public life fairly separate, and yeah, I might not agree with him sometimes, but overall, it doesn't bother me. He knows that line and keeps to it.

The point being, is that I can separate the artist at times, given the situation. I think there are times when people try to focus too much on the artist and not the product. Do I think it's okay for that creator to have done/said what they have? No. Does it mean I will hand over my money to them? No. Can I still say, "Well, huh, that was actually pretty good?" Yes, if I liked it. (Movies are especially harder because it's not just the actors/directors/producers/screenwriters responsible for a movie. There are a TON of people involved in creating a film who don't get the credit and they really should. Actually, ditto for book editors. /tangent)

Separation is a hard thing. Before Anne Rice blew up on Amazon, I probably would have picked up one of her books. But now I don't because I know that and that really turned me off. However, I can turn around and go "Oh, new anime. Okay, panty shot, but eh, looks good. *watchs*" and that doesn't bother me as much. The more you can look at the art than the person who makes it should be just as important.

truthpact said...

For me it's all about the idea of what they will do with the money I am sending them.

If an author is good and I enjoy their work, I want to make sure that they get proper compensation for doing a good job. Even if they are a huge bigot, I don't have any personal grudge against their survival, and I will give them the money so that they may continue to earn a living. However, if they are going to take my money and do terrible things with it, I will not buy their book. Orson Scott Card writes incredible books, and I do enjoy reading them. I will check them out from the library, or borrow them from a friend. I will never, never buy them.

This is unrelated to media, but another source that will never get my money is Walmart. I can't supply money to them because they will use that money to expand, and the damage they wreck on communities (along with all the other horrible things they have done) is not worth the marginally cheaper prices.

I guess the question for me is, how much damage is giving them money going to do? If they are just going to rage on their blog about dumb shit, then I couldn't care less. If they are going to fund hate groups, then I have a serious problem.

Anonymous said...

I lost all respect for Orson Scott Card when I read his blog. It just saddens me that someone can think that racism and discrimination against immigrants is wrong, but discrimination against gays is acceptable because God doesn't allow it. What really rankles is that he says he doesn't get why his former gay friends won't talk to them anymore; um, maybe it's because you kept forcing your views down their throats and kept telling them it's WRONG to be the way they are? But he's too blind to see that their rejection of him is his own fault. I'm debating whether or not to spend any more money on his books (which I bought before I knew about his views), and whether it's okay to stick my head in the stand and ignore his personal views.

As for Disney, Walt Disney has been dead for 40 years, so buying Disney movies will not put any money into a Nazi sympathizer's pockets. A lot of companies have pretty ugly pasts - Ford, for example. Henry Ford was a Nazi sympathizer who spent millions on hate propaganda.

However, I know for certain that I will not pay money for Roman Polanski's movies. When I saw The Pianist, I had heard he "had sex" with a thirteen-year-old girl, but I didn't know any details of the case. And I was naive enough that I brushed it off, and thought that it must have been consensual sex (even though it would still be statutory rape). I didn't know that he knew her age, and he gave her alcohol and quaalades, and that he verbally coerced her. I can look the other way if an artist is an asshole, but I can't look the other way if they committed rape. And he's not the least bit sorry, and he keeps trying to portray himself as the victim because his wife was murdered, he grew up during the Holocaust, none of which excuses what he did. Like Chris Brown, all he cares about is trying to offload the blame onto other people. I don't care if his charge was 30 years ago, he should still be prosecuted. I'm not consistent with stuff I reject because of the artist's personal views, but I can't support someone who's been evading rape charges for years.

Of course, this wouldn't be happening if Roman Polanski wasn't a famous director. No one would be rushing to Polanski's defense if he was a teacher, salesman, or plumber, but because he's an "artiste", he's automatically given special privileges. It makes me sick that some people are allowed to flout the rules because they are famous.

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