Delicate topic today.
This is something I’ve been mulling over in my mind a fair bit lately.
It started back when I first started seeing trailers for the Ender’s Game movie (don’t waste your money).
I’d read the books a long time ago and I loved them. I even loved the further sequels that nobody else seemed to give two shakes for. I thought they were powerful, thought-provoking books and I would easily put the first book right up there with Starship Troopers by Heinlein and The Forever War by Joe Haldeman as ESSENTIAL military sci-fi novels.
These are all books that explored more than the war itself, but what it means to be a soldier and they had some damned powerful statements to make that left you thinking.
Then, the movie was announced.
The trailers were shown.
Then a huge hubbub erupted about the fact that Orson Scott Card was a blatant, homophobic racist.
I never knew about this side of the man. To be honest, I don’t really know much about most of the authors that I follow avidly.
To me, their personal lives didn’t matter. Their political and humanitarian views or activities didn’t matter. Whether they were a saint or a bigot…I never thought it mattered.
To a large extent? Honestly? I still don’t.
It’s much the same way I don’t really care much about the personal lives of celebrities. I just…it doesn’t really concern me, who they marry or if they had an affair. It never seemed to matter to me whether they were a good person or a bad person because I had no real vested interest in what kind of person they were.
I wasn’t their friend. My chances of anything but a very fleeting chance encounter with a celebrity was slim to none, so what did I care if they were awesome or horrible?
I did some long thinking when I found out Orson Scott Card’s views on the world.
Did it matter to me what the man thought?
In a general sense, yeah, I mean…the world would be a much nicer place if people would stop being such dicks, you know?
But in practical sense…no.
It didn’t matter to me.
I just didn’t care.
I don’t particularly think that makes me a bad person, though I’m sure there are people who would happily argue that point with me.
Long-winded and rambling, but my point is that when I’m consuming, music, movie, art, or novel, I tend to divorce the creator from the creation.
Let’s take a more concrete example.
Let’s look at Jim Butcher or Patrick Rothfuss. Two authors that are sort of giants in my eyes, authors of ongoing series that I can’t wait to read more of.
Let’s pretend that tomorrow, one or both of them were outed as these massive douchebags. Racist, homophobic bigots, the whole nine yards.
…But they continued writing.
Would I stop reading about Kvothe and Dresden because of this newfound fact?
No, definitely not.
Would I start pirating the books instead?
…Maybe, maybe not.
It’s a complicated issue and I don’t have one clear opinion on what I think is “right” in this situation.
I’ve read through Ender’s Game, numerous times now. I never…really got a homophobic or racist feel from it. So maybe it’s there and I’m just not well-versed in reading between the lines, or maybe the story is just a story and has nothing to do with furthering his personal political agenda.
Now that I’ve found out about his viewpoints, should I burn any copies of his book that I can find? Boycott the rest of his work when I very clearly enjoyed his previous efforts and thought them powerful and good teaching tools?
I don’t think there’s really a right answer.
I don’t think everyone will have the same answer.
My answer…is that I tend to find it easy to divorce someone from the work they do.
Sometimes, a story is just a story to me. A movie is just a movie, and I don’t need to know that everyone involved in the creation of said work was a saint in order to enjoy it.
By the same token, knowledge that someone involved WAS a douchebag doesn’t STOP me from enjoying it either.
This was a big rambling, but in light of events, I’m curious to know what you guys think of the whole issue.
CAN a writer and his work be separated? Or are they inextricably bound together?