Today, dear readers, I’ve got something serious to talk about. I don’t do that too often here on MattBooker.info, because I like to keep things fun. When you start talking serious, not everyone comes away happy. Sure, I probably offend more than a fair share of sensitive readers who think Transformers and sex jokes just shouldn’t be illustrated by a shirtless minimate being rubbed down with pineapple oil by a big yellow robot. After all, not everyone likes pineapples.
Wait, what were we talking about again?
Oh yeah! So, if that’s the way I like it around here, why would I bring up something serious?
Because there are some serious things worth talking about.
Don’t worry, I promise I won’t bring up stuff like this all the time. There’s plenty of other places for people to go if they want to argue\affirm politics, religion, or zombie robot apocalypses.
But every now and then, I want to say something about serious things.
Honestly, I’m a pretty introspective guy. I’m an author, so it kind of comes with the territory. I brood, I mull, and I think about stuff a lot. Don’t mistake me for an angsty emo kid, mind you, there’s substance to this stuff, and I’d still rather laugh than worry.
A lot of people come here to see how to improve their tiny plastic giant robots. At least a few of those stick around to hear what I have to say about stuff. At some point, it’s not conceited of me to figure those people might like me enough to hear what I have to say about other stuff, too. I keep it pretty friendly around here, and friends talk about lots of things, so why not?
At the very least, it’s just another form of entertainment.
But what if, dear reader, what if I say something that changes your opinion of me? What if I believe something that is so incompatible with your world view that you just can’t stand to talk to me anymore, let alone read about other things I have to say? Wouldn’t that be awful?
I guess I couldn’t blame them too much. Everybody has their own opinions on stuff, and sometimes the really big opinions are based on the foundations of a person’s whole moral view.
For instance, I can be friends with a person who disagrees with me on a political subject, even if it’s one that I have a strong opinion about, because a person is more than just their politics. If they weren’t, then I probably wouldn’t want to be friends with such a two-dimensional person anyway. And because I’m friends with them, I have to believe that they’re doing what they think is right, even if I think it’s misguided.
But what if that person thought that the holocaust didn’t happen, or was a member of the KKK? I don’t think I could be friends with that kind of person, because of those opinions.
But what if it wasn’t a friend that you found that out about, but your favorite band? Or your favorite author? Or your favorite comic book artist? Or your favorite movie director?
And after all that buildup, we get to the subject of today’s Seriously post: Author Taint.
Yes. I specifically said ‘taint’ so that I could giggle about it.
You see, the whole friendships thing is a given, that we get along better with people who have similar opinions on things, and that if someone’s an asshole then you’re not likely to want to be around them much. But what if that asshole isn’t your friend, but someone who puts out a product that you enjoy?
Does that taint your enjoyment of that product?
I suppose the first thing to consider about that is, do you even pay attention to the person behind the product in the first place?
I may say that I like a band, but really I just mean that I like a lot of their songs. I don’t follow the personal lives of the members, or even pay much attention to their lineup, so it doesn’t bother me if the only two members I can name from Metallica are ones the internet tells me are jerks.
I’m aware that some people follow bands like some housefraus follow soap operas, but that’s a much more personal producer\consumer relationship, to the point where– just like a friendship –if the producer is an asshole then you don’t want to hang around them. That makes sense because you’re invested in the person behind the product.
What I’m really wanting to talk about, though, is what happens when you’re more invested in the product than the person.
Lets take authors for an example. If you read a fiction book and really like it, you’re probably going to remember the name of the author. You’re also probably going to look up more books by that author, because you want more of that kind of book.
It’s the kind of book that you’re looking for, not so much the author. Unless it personally matters to you if the author is six foot one, has 17 inch biceps, and luxurious hair. I certainly couldn’t blame you if that’s a thing you like, but the whole point of a book of fiction is the story and the style.
Is the author white, black, or somewhere in between? For most people, that doesn’t matter. As long as the story and the style are good, that’s what matters.
But the examples I’ve mentioned so far are pretty harmless. If the race of an author matters to the reader, that reader is probably a jackass. If a reader prefers books by an author with big arms and awesome hair, well, that reader has excellent taste.
So… What then, dear reader, if some of your favorite books were written by a dude who turned out to be racist against whatever race you happen to be? Or you met the guy and he was just a complete jackass?
That’s not an easy thing to answer.
Now, before we go any further, I should address something else. When man truly creates something, part of the maker is reflected in what’s made.
Re-read that sentence. Think about it. If it’s something born of passion, that passion will show through. If it’s something phoned in for the sake of a paycheck, the apathy will show through.
But that doesn’t mean all aspects of the person are reflected in the product.
And that’s an important distinction. Man is, by our inescapable nature, multifaceted, complex. Some aspects of ourselves may be black and white, but our whole is a myriad shade of gray.
So, some guy that hates Canadians might still write a beautiful song. That guy’s taint might never have touched that song.
Unless he wrote it in the nude or something.
What? I couldn’t help it, alright. It’s one of my many facets.
What I mean is,
I’m a pervert just because a person is a jerk, the products they make don’t have to be jerky. That’s not to say they won’t always be like that, as the stronger a person feels about something then the more likely it will be to show up in a personal creation, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
And for the purposes of this post, the untainted kind is the product I’m talking about. If a guy that hates gay people writes books that hate gay people, well, that’s obvious. But what if that guy just wrote good books, free of his gay taint?
Okay, okay. I’ll try to stop working in the word taint.
No, I won’t.
But that whole anti-gay author \ books that don’t have anything to do with gay people thing is actually what got me thinking about this. Well, thinking about it moreso.
Recently, I saw a link to http://skipendersgame.com/. If you can’t tell from the url itself, that’s a website asking people to skip seeing the movie Ender’s Game, because Orson Scott Card is outspoken about his anti-gay opinions.
Now, I’m of the opinion that a person is a person regardless of their sexual orientation, but this post isn’t about debating that. I’m just mentioning it so you know where I’m coming from.
Because I’ve read Ender’s Game, and there’s nothing in it that I’d consider anti-gay.
And, let me make this clear, I didn’t even like Ender’s Game. That’s a subject better left for another post, but I wanted that to be known so people don’t think I’m a fanboy for it.
So the author is anti-gay, but the author’s book isn’t. Does that equate to ‘Buying a ticket to the movie based on the book means you support the anti-gay author.’?
I don’t think so.
He’s probably already been paid, but if the movie is popular they’ll want to make a sequel, so he’ll benefit from it… but so will all the people that worked on the movie. And if you don’t think there were a bunch of gay people working on that movie, you don’t know much about Hollywood.
Or maybe not, but that’s the impression the internet has given.
But even more important than that, is that the product isn’t anti-gay. If it’s a good story and especially if it’s one that you liked already, it seems a shame to not enjoy it.
When someone makes a product, and then sets that product loose on the world, it becomes something more than just a thing made by a guy, especially if it’s a story. A book is different for each person that reads it, after all. Sure, the written word is the same, and details are the same at their base, but each of those things is seen differently in the mind of the reader. I can say a character’s hair is red, or even a copper-colored rust, but what I see in my head might be different from what the reader sees in theirs. I try my best to carefully set things to stir emotions in my readers, but the depth and clarity of those emotions still has a lot to do with them.
And it works for movies too. A Twilight movie will cause angsty tweens and lonely mothers to obsessively enjoy it, but most people
will feel angry about having paid for the movie ticket will react somewhat differently. That movie has become something more than it was originally, because the world experiences it, takes hold of it.
So if a product, especially a story, is more than just the person who made it, why worry about that person’s conflicting morals?
The answer is that you shouldn’t worry about them.
And that’s not even getting into the whole thing about differing morals from differing time periods. What if Mary Shelly was secretly a proponent of human\horse marriages? Would you swear off every Frankenstein movie? Or does it make it easier to ignore because she’s not around to benefit from your movie ticket sale?
It’s easy to feel guilt about things, or to feel like you’ve got a righteous cause when morals are at stake, but you have to be careful that you’re not just tilting at windmills.
Don’t skip Ender’s Game because you’re mad at the guy who wrote the book the movie is based on.
Skip Ender’s Game because the movie looks awful.