Seriously – Author Taint 2: Short Version

The other day I posted something about a serious subject, Author Taint. It wasn’t an essay, but a conversation. Those aren’t structured, they meander, and they eventually come to a conclusion, but it’s not a full on THIS IS MY POINT like the end of an essay.

The post was just talking to myself and sharing it with you, dear readers, because I think there’s value to be had from it.

But it does have a conclusion, and I do have a point to make. And that point is important enough that I don’t want it to be missed.

So here’s my point!

That post is not about someone who has never heard of Ender’s Game before the movie. It’s about someone who liked Ender’s Game before Orson Scott Card started publicly pushing his crazy.

Actually, no. It’s not. It’s about, “What if your FAVORITE __________ turned out to be a jerk?”

 

Orson Scott Card is just an example. The emphasis there is FAVORITE.

 

And honestly, if a gay dude that loved Ender’s Game doesn’t love it any more because the author hates him, then I can’t fault the dude for that… even if I think that’s a shame.

My opinion still stands. If you love a work already, and you find out the person who made it is a jerk, hate the author not the work.

Got that?

It’s the answer to that bolded question that I asked earlier. It’s that point I mentioned at the start of this post.

I can understand if someone’s opinion on that varies. I can. I’d be conflicted myself, after all. But I know me, and I know I’d just get angry at the guy who changed. The work is still the same, and fuck letting some asshole change my opinion of it.

 

Now, if you’ve never heard of a product before, and the maker of that product is publicly known for being a jerk, then your perception of that product is already tainted. I wouldn’t blame you for not wanting to check it out, and it would have to be a really great product to be worth it.

 

And because it should be mentioned, I’ve got no problem with people trying to organize a boycott of the film, and it’s good that they’re making sure people are aware of just how crazy Orson Scott Card actually is. Standing up for what you think is right is awesome, and more people should do it every day.

Those people aren’t what my point is about, but it should be mentioned.

 

So, I’m not defending Orson Scott Card. I’m not even telling you to go watch Ender’s Game.

But if it’s one of your favorite books, tell OSC to GTFO and keep on liking Ender’s Game.

Just don’t watch the movie, because it looks awful.

~Matt Booker

9 thoughts on “Seriously – Author Taint 2: Short Version

  1. My two cents on this topic:

    My favorite Singer, poet, celebrity, public figure, idol, philosopher is:
    Bob Dylan.

    He gets a lot of praise, not only for his civil rights work, but for his insights into complex human emotions and interactions. How people treat each other is a huge thematic in his work, whether the subject is Friends, lovers, politics, self, beginnings, sourings, endings, betrayals, surprises, salivations etc.

    The whole lot.

    I’ve been a fan of his since I was 11. That’s well over half my life.
    I sometimes think that taking in so much of his work at such a transitional age probably significantly changed the way I think, talk, and even perceive the world around me.

    The more I’ve learned about the man, the more I see that he’s probably not very pleasant to be around. At best he’s shy and aloof, but there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that he’s manipulative, arrogant, condescending, and spiteful.

    In this case I still love the work. I think that part of the reason he has such insights, is because he does “needle” the people around him, to paraphrase the man himself.

    I can accept that aspect of what I know about him and it does not diminish the genuine insights that I think his work holds. In fact I think one is born from the other.

    But he’s never really mounted a coordinated attack on any group that I hold dear, my culture, or the people I love. (unlike Card in your example). Which I do think is a different thing.

  2. You make an interesting point (twice), Matt. I kinda liked the longer, meandering essay better, but I’m posting my comment here because it’s newer, and newer is always better.

    Anyway, I appreciate where you’re coming from, but I also recognize that my brain doesn’t necessarily do things logically. If I loved a work, and suddenly learned that the creator of that work was aggressively opposed to me in some significant way, it would be a gut punch. And, yes, the hit would be mitigated somewhat if the creator were dead, because, hey, it’s not like buying a Lovecraft collection is going to fund anti-civil rights causes. (Well, I’m assuming here that there wasn’t some directive from the dead creator to use all profits in a particular, negative way, and maybe that’s not fair.) But if the creator is still alive and still actively supporting things I don’t believe in, then it’s fair for me to assume that, by supporting his (or her) work, that I am also providing support for that cause.

    So maybe I stop buying new items by/licensed from said creator; that doesn’t actually answer your original question, because it’s about the thing that I loved before I found out. And I think what happens there is that I get the gut punch, I’m sad about it, but I carry the memory of how the work affected me, and maybe one day I sit back down and give it another try, and maybe I still like it, despite what I’ve learned. Maybe it’s strong enough to stand on its own. I like to think that’s what would happen, because I do have connections to a lot of music/movies/books that I’ve consumed during my life, and it would be a shame to feel like I could never enjoy them again if their creators turned out to be jerks.

    But there’s another aspect that occurs to me; the people who haven’t encountered our author’s famous work (let’s call it X, because I like referencing obscure 90’s comic books). Don’t I have an obligation to whatever I feel so strongly about to get the word out about the author being a jerk and that if you buy X, you’re supporting the jerky thing he supports? Or should I stand aside and let people encounter X the same way I originally did, sans taint (if you will)? Do I owe the work something that I don’t owe the author? Do I feel that the impact of X on the reader/viewer/listener will be beneficial enough to them that it’s okay to allow them to support the author who supports something I don’t? Should I lend the members of this future audience my copy of X so they don’t financially support the author but yet get to enjoy X anyway? If it’s a thing I LOVE (or loved), is it worth compromising?

    I don’t know. This post made me think and type and stuff and now I’m all confused. You need to post some funny Transformers stuff again so I don’t have to think so much.

  3. Hunter, that’s a well put response. I appreciate you posting. :)

    Heli, glad to see you’re still around as well. And you make a lot of good points, as well as raise a lot of good questions. In the case of actively promoting the work in spite of the author, another thing to consider is that a lot of people would see you as defending the author.

    I know this, because I’ve had people outside of this post tell me things like I’m ‘getting a lot of crap for defending Card.’

    That’s one of the reasons why in this post I reiterated that I am not defending Orson Scott Card.

    But there will probably still be people that see these posts and think that.

    “I don’t know. This post made me think and type and stuff and now I’m all confused. You need to post some funny Transformers stuff again so I don’t have to think so much.” – Heli

    I think we’re all ready to get back to that. In the few days before I responded to those other comments and wrote this post, I had insomnia. Even with some over-the-counter sleeping pills. My mind tends to grab onto things and dwell.

    Counting sheep while they discuss this subject is not entertaining.

    ~Matt Booker

  4. “That’s one of the reasons why in this post I reiterated that I am not defending Orson Scott Card.” – Matt

    Well, it’s tough for people to divorce creator and creation in their minds, which is why, when we really like a book/song/whatever, we kind of begin to trust the author, if only in that we think that they know how to entertain us and we therefore seek out more of their work with the expectation that it will continue to be entertaining. Learning some unpleasant personal thing about the author then feels kind of like a betrayal, if only because of the vision of the author we’ve created in our minds.

    Honestly, one of the things I dislike about the fixation on celebrities in our culture is that it seems so much easier to learn about the real people behind the media we enjoy, and how sometimes they really don’t seem like people we’d want to admire, or even be around.

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