3 comments on “Back Matter #8.NOW — Art vs. Artist

  1. Two questions:

    1 – When people are alive, you can talk about remorse or paying their debt to society. But what about people who are dead? My impression is that the majority of the male artists and writers of the first half of the twentieth century were total shits towards women. Picasso is a particularly notorious example, and so are the Beats, but very few of them were exempt. So what attitude do you take towards them and their art?

    2 – What about people whose behavior may be or have been exemplary in person but whose art encourages bad attitudes? This goes well beyond misogyny — there’s a current controversy over whether the World Fantasy Award should no longer be named for Lovecraft because of the racism in his stories. For that matter, the implicit racism in The Lord of the Rings has sometimes given me pause, as does the fact that European fascists have often embraced Tolkien because they sense an affinity to their own nativism and militarism.

    This isn’t a new issue. Every era erects its own moral standards and then retroactively applies them to the past. But if you take this too far, you get to be like the Victorians who edited all the dirty jokes out of Shakespeare (except for the ones they didn’t get because they were Victorians.) So where do you draw the lines? And do you draw them on a personal basis or a society-wide basis? And what degree of censorship do you condone in the process?

  2. These are the same questions I ask myself. I think these days the area in which I really obsess over, which unfortunately I didn’t get to on this episode, is the area of stand up comedy. I used to be very firmly of the opinion that comedy could have no strictures put on it. That it had to be this bastion of free speech and free ideas and if you didn’t find someone funny then you were under no obligation to listen to their jokes. I know much more now though. I know that rape jokes told at the expense of the victim normalize the act to those that think it is okay. Racist and sexist comedy that make light of these issues exacerbate an already overloaded cultural system that silently condones these modes of thought. The problem for me is, I don’t know where you draw the line. It is an issue that stymies me.

  3. I have to open with the bias that I am a very forgiving person and that I was an English major with 3 years of courses under my belt and that it will color my opinion of this subject. I haven’t listened to all of the episode yet (still listening now) But the thing I’m thinking at the moment goes side and side with the Bill Cosby thing. To me I grew up watching 7th Heaven. I still watch it when it’s on with my girl friend. The first few seasons are better, but that’s besides the point. Recently it’s been brought up that the actor who plays the dad on the show has been charged as a child molester. Then I thought to myself “what would it be like if my favorite comic creator (Gerard Way) did something on this level?” And you guys are right. The question is really hard. I would like to think that art is separate from the creator. With all of the English classes I have taken it is something that has been drilled into my head. I’d like to think that the art says something else separate from the artist. But I keep saying “I’d like to think”. With the case of 7th Heaven I still love the show. But I’m not a huge fan of the actor in the first place. I just love the show. But in the case of Gerard Way I fuckin love the guy. I love his work. All of his art is my favorite. Could I love the Umbrella Academy as much if I didn’t love Gerard Way as much as I do? I think I would. As soon as he had UA printed it became something of its own. I feel that’s how it is with all art. Once the artist puts there art into the world, it is no longer theirs. It’s the people’s art. Art is nothing without people enjoying it. Art is personal. I love UA because it’s weird. It has a dysfunctional family. It has national monuments being beaten up by children. (I’m now getting to the part in the podcast where you talk about separating art from artist). Art is different to everyone and exists in as many different forms as people. I’m going to wrap this up saying that most people will remember the art more than the artist. I can tell you ton of comics I love. But I can only tell you what Kirkman, Way, and Mignola has done. I can tell you my favorite movie is Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but I can’t tell you a single person associated with it. I want to give artists more credit, but that doesn’t stop that I will remember the art more. Long story short. I think art should be separate.

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