The Artist and the Art
By Betty Fokker on August 22, 2013
At what point does the artist become so repugnant you cannot make yourself like his/her art anymore? I have some big ol’ hot-buttons on certain issues that will make me eschew an artist because the sight/sound of him/her makes my skin crawl with revulsion.
I don’t watch Woody Allen movies because of his relationship to his adopted daughter, whom he started tapping before she was twenty. I won’t watch movies by Roman Polanski because he drugged and raped a thirteen year old girl. I don’t watch Mel Gibson anymore because hit his ex-girlfriend hard enough to knock off her veneers, as well as being a homophobic, misogynistic, racist, anti-Semitic prick. I won’t listen to anything by Ted Nugent because he bragged about shitting his pants to avoid Vietnam and in the same interview bragged that he would have been an awesome soldier, plus he invites politicians to suck or “ride” his machine gun in clearly homophobic, misogynistic metaphors. (Although the fact I think his music sucks is also a strong inducement for my avoidance.)
So I know what makes me feel like I’ve mentally licked a rotted squid, but at what point has someone gone over the edge enough for me to gladly boycott his ass based only on his opinions/words? Clearly his words alone are enough for Mel Gibson and Ted Nugent to make me yurk, but what about just low grade insults to things I hold dear? Considering the homophobia, sexism, and racism in this country that is embedded in the national psyche, at what point someone expressed him/herself in such a way as too be TOO much of a bad thing?
I am not sure where the line is exactly, but I do know Orson Scott Card has gone over it for me. It’s not his politics that got me – although claiming 9/11 was needed so that Dubya Bush could rid the world of Islamic terrorism and implying that Obama will recruit “urban youths” to assault ‘good’ Americans is really fokking skanky. Nope. His homophobia has leaked into over from fear to anger to hatred.
Wait? Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to the Dark Side? Holy shit! Yoda was right!
The wisdom of puppets reciting lines George Lucas wrote aside, I think I need to avoid seeing the movie Ender’s Game, which is based on Orson Scott Card’s book by the same title. Orson Scott Card says I should see it to prove my tolerance to his intolerance (which he frames as ‘disagreement’ BTW), but I call shenanigans on that. Resistance to a wrongdoing is not the same thing as doing something wrong. Homophobia is wrong. Standing up against homophobia is not wrong. It is that simple, people.
When I first read Ender’s Game, back when it had only been out a few years, I loved it. It was compelling, original, wonderfully well-written science-fiction. It still is, but now the art is (for me) tainted by the artists hatred. It’s like trying to like a painting done by a member of the KKK. You just cannot admire the art enough to move past what a goat’s hemorrhoid the artist is. Considering that I loved Card’s books, this makes me hella sad.
However, Card seems to be determined to spare his former fans any pangs in that area but starting to write banal crap as a vehicle to overt homophobic ideologies. For example he recently released a novella that was a rewriting of Hamlet so bad that one reviewer wrote:
“The extent of the novella's failure is surprising—and embarrassing, given that Card is a skilled veteran novelist and Subterranean a well-respected press. The most polite thing for us to do would be to walk away and quietly forget the whole painful exercise. But Card does not deserve our polite amnesia. His failures should be known and remembered, because the revelation in his "revelatory new version" turns out to be a nightmare of vitriolic homophobia.
Here's the punch line: Old King Hamlet was an inadequate king because he was gay, an evil person because he was gay, and, ultimately, a demonic and ghostly father of lies who convinces young Hamlet to exact imaginary revenge on innocent people. The old king was actually murdered by Horatio, in revenge for molesting him as a young boy—along with Laertes, and Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern, thereby turning all of them gay. We learn that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are now "as fusty and peculiar as an old married couple. I pity the woman who tries to wed her way into that house."
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