Can We Separate Art from the Artist? -A Discussion

March 8, 2018     erinthebooknut     Uncategorized


I imagine this is going to be a fairly controversial topic but I think it’s one that deserves a little thinking about. Can we as people who consume media separate a garbage person’s art from who they are as a person?

Over the years my opinion on this topic has shifted. It used to be that I didn’t care what a creator got up to in their spare time. As a teenager I wasn’t all that concerned with anything other than my own entertainment and respected creative endeavor over everything else. I was an artiste, only concerned with the creative. Admittedly that’s a pretty garbage view. I was shallow, I didn’t care where my money went.

These days I’d say my opinion is much more complicated. 

With all of the women coming out to express their long hidden instances of sexual harassment and abuse, supporting authors who are accused of that behavior becomes more than a little wrong to me. And yet I have long read Anne Rice, a known internet bully, because despite her personality I love her work.

I have continued to enjoyed Orson Scott Card’s work with the caveat that I never buy new so as not to give him my money. But is that really any different? Can you consume art from a problematic artist without at least lending some support to their personal views and behavior by doing so? Even without spending your money on them?


Honestly? I don’t know.

Where is the line? When can you no longer say “I’m ok with reading this knowing who you are”?

Part of me wants to says as long as no monetary support goes to that artist, it’s fine. But that seems like a bit of an oversimplification of support. Can I still read a grossly problematic author whose work I love? Is that fair to the people who that author has hurt?

Art is my refuge. My books, my movies and TV, my comics. These are the things I seek out when I’m at my low points. I’m very attached to stories and the people who tell them.

None of my favorite authors were on the list of people who have been accused of sexual harassment. But what if they were? What if I had to make that decision? It seems like a stupid and shallow problem, but its one that my anxiety brain has been mulling over a lot these past weeks. These people have spoken to me in my heart of hearts, into my soul. Could I let any of them go after they’ve changed my life so thoroughly?

I don’t have anymore words. I’m just floating on a path of moral confusion.

So my question is this– where do you guys draw the line? Can you separate the art from the artists, either by resolving not to spend money on them or otherwise?


2 responses to “Can We Separate Art from the Artist? -A Discussion

  1. When I run into this problem, I decide not to spend any money on the problematic person, and I also stay away from acknowledging them publicly (a review, a post, a reblog). I also avoid any new work they come out with if possible.

  2. In terms of watching movies or shows that we find out were directed by deplorable people or included a deplorable actor, to boycott the work completely will deprive the good people who worked on that project of their share of royalties and residuals. So it’s complicated. Would the female star of a movie who was groped off-set want us to avoid ever watching the movie? I don’t know. We should ask some.

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