Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I Used To Like X

I want you to fix in your mind your favorite artist. Make a list of all the things s/he did to make you like him/her. Let's suppose you like the way s/he puts words together. Or you like the way s/he provides insight into the human condition. Or you like that clever twist at the end of his/her short stories. Now, for the purposes of this essay we'll refer to this artist as X.

If I met you in a coffee shop and mentioned X, you'd wax rhapsodic about him/her and recite at least some of those things on that list that I asked you to make.

Now, suppose that you discover that wonderful creative person you had in mind was also a leader of the National Socialist Party. Or s/he was outed as a closeted KKK member.

I'm supposing that everyone reading this hates fascists and white supremacists. But if you don't, substitute something else that you hate. (It is an unfortunate trait of our society that we tend to identify mutually antagonistic classes of people and then we set at each others' throats.)

Armed with this additional factoid about X, let's return to the coffee shop and I ask you about X. Now what do you say? Perhaps you'll feel rather sheepish: regarding X's writing as a guilty pleasure, or perhaps denying any enjoyment of X's work.

Then imagine the next time you're in a bookstore and you see X's latest work on the shelf. Will you snap up a copy with the same fervor as before? And after you finish it, will you post a review that is as positive as before? Or maybe not, you don't want the taint of association with double-ungoodness.

If you are an artist, you won't want that taint, and you won't want to be identified with any demon groups. This is a matter of personal brand management. Though it is easy to eschew evil in its Nazi and White-Supremacist forms, it get tricky when you're a Republican looking at a Democrat artist, or vice versa. (That's why I'm a Whig. A pox on both your houses!)

A bit of controversy can be great fun as any fan of cismale gendernormative fascism or glittery hoohas can attest. If someone on one side says something ridiculous and someone on the other side responds with ridicule, pass me the popcorn. This explains why I like Larry Correia and Sarah Hoyt.

It's easy to go too far as I've said about Ann Coulter. I'm not concern-trolling Mr. Correia or Mrs. Hoyt, because they have NOT gone too far. But I am not interested in tilting at every windmill. Unless you really enjoy slapping around idiots, there are some topics of conversation you might want to avoid. Some controversies are more interesting to me than they are to you, I want to shy away from those you'll find boring.

Let's return to your friend X. It is common in these busy times to go off half cocked. Internet mobs are like traditional mobs in that low-information people respond to half-truths or lies with great passion. Thus we may find that X really isn't really a Nazi, but s/he said something that could be construed as such. Or maybe X's art was wholly independent of his/her Nazism.

If you liked X because of his/her art, and you discover a taint of something evil in X, you should remember the line between good and evil runs through the heart of every person. You should be slow to judge until you've got all the facts. And checked them. And you should temper your judgment with understanding.

I fondly remember the Tarzan and John Carter novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs. My enjoyment thereof is alloyed somewhat by accusations of racism, but I cannot deny he could spin a great adventure yarn. Though I used to like Edgar Rice Burroughs, I should not dismiss his work.

1 comment:

  1. There's a line: does X merely believe noxious ideology Q? Or is X (as in your first photo) an effective advocate of noxious ideology Q? A lot of people "believe" an ideology without acting on it; but among a large enough set of believers, some will also be actors. And some will vote for and support and enable actors. So a Leni Reifenstahl turns her art into an active, harmful tool of her ideology, while another artist merely says stupid things that I can't respect. I can enjoy art even if the artist is an idiot, but not if the artist supports evil.


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