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Friday Debate – Is it okay to enjoy content from a crap person?

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Friday-debate

There’s an old adage that you should never meet your heroes, because you’ll always be disappointed by them. Humans are capable of creating incredible works of art across a diverse range of mediums, but they’re not exactly flawless paragons of virtue. They are flawed and imperfect individuals, who are capable of doing incredible harm to others.

Fame, fortune, and being placed on a pedestal also does strange things to a person, either corrupting them or amplifying inherent negativity within their personalities that is often swept under the rug. A more recent example of this is Marilyn Manson, who has been outed as being a rather craptacular person. This comes in the wake of Manson’s former partner Evan Rachel Wood alleging that the musician groomed and abused her during their relationship.

The question is, is it possible to still enjoy the work of artists, when their reputation has been tainted by such allegations? There’s no shortage of examples either, and even with the added context of there being a grey area of crappiness displayed by people, it can make viewing their material feel awkward in retrospect.

JK Rowling’s transphobic statements and overall pettiness has been incredibly harmful to the transgender community, Bill Cosby’s sitcoms were wiped from existence with a Thanos-level snap when he was accused of multiple rapes, and the alleged predatory pursuit of teenage girls by R Kelly is just incredibly gross if true. In terms of comic books, a recent read of The Batman’s Grave felt tinged with controversy thanks to allegations of writer Warren Ellis grooming multiple women went public, and even my love of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has been sullied by the knowledge of Raiden’s voice actor being accused of sexually harrassing fans.

It makes you think: Is it okay to enjoy their content? I think there’s a world of difference between controversial celebrities, and we’re not veering into “Hitler’s watercolour paintings were actually quite nice” territory, but there’s always going to be some level of discomfort to experience. What do you think? Is it okay to enjoy the content that a terrible person produces?

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.

Last Updated: February 5, 2021

41 Comments

  1. Yes.

    But.

    It’s important to recognize and apply that person’s problematic behavior to the content they produce. Death of the author is something we may all desire, but it’s ultimately impossible. The creator’s personality is what led to the creation of the content, and that content reflects that personality. The problematic behavior is part of that.

    However, I also think it’s important to be considerate how you fund that problematic person. Agreeing that Rowling is a crap person but continuing to buy content based on her books renders your objection flaccid – she’s still getting your money, which by extension validates her.

    At the same time, you don’t have to cut yourself off – but the worst thing you can do is deny that the creator’s history and personality is important when it comes to consuming their content, because that (again) only serves to validate and protect them.

    Reply

  2. Gavin Mannion

    February 5, 2021 at 04:02

    For me it depends on the level of the crap from the person as well as how it personally affects me

    I’m a huge fan of Top Gear and The Grand Tour and find Jeremy Clarkson hilarious but he’s also quite a douchebag when it comes to politics and punching producers in the face (though the man deserved dinner)

    I also love the Harry Potter universe and am not involved in the transgender community so it doesn’t really affect me much, it’s also just her opinion so I don’t put much behind that.

    Bill Cosby however is someone I can no longer enjoy as he caused actual direct physical harm to people and really abused his power and I just can’t be entertained by that.

    But I’d listen to Marylin Manson still as he’s not there pretending to be a saint and then being an asshole behind the scenes, I mean has he ever pretended to be a decent human being?

    Reply

    • Mandalorian Jim

      February 8, 2021 at 10:28

      He’s always come across as a very eloquent and extremely well-informed individual, especially in interviews. I think he’s always made it clear that the Marilyn Manson persona is just that. It’s a performance, nothing more and nothing less.

      Reply

  3. Original Heretic

    February 5, 2021 at 04:19

    If it wasn’t okay, we’d have almost no content at all.
    Most artists (whatever the medium) are assholes and damaged people.
    It’s very rare to find those that are actually nice and/or decent.

    Reply

    • Mandalorian Jim

      February 8, 2021 at 06:01

      People are flawed creatures, and if we go down this path of cancelling people because of their personal slights, then it’s really just a case of “don’t throw rocks if you live in glasshouses”.

      Take any one of us, if you’ve been at a bar, pub, social gathering or a braai, most likely you said something that you shouldn’t, or you made an off-colour joke because you had too many beers in your system. Or, you said something in anger at someone, which in hindsight you regret or god forbid, you did something serious, like cheat on a partner.

      That’s life. The vast majority of us are stupid, spiteful creatures who do dumb things.

      I think it’s bizarre to condemn people for their personal flaws and faults (purely because they’re celebrities) and yet we play innocent when it comes to our own issues.

      If it’s a criminal matter, let the courts handle it, that’s why they’re there, but this trial by social media is really one of the most infuriating things about living in the 20s. Take the whole Johnny Depp and Amber Heard issue, both of them did things they really shouldn’t, and while I’m leaning more towards Depp on the issue, I am aware of this bias, but I also know that it needs to be tested in a court of law (and I don’t mean the one he had in the UK, which was basically about defamation and libel, rather than a criminal case against either Heard or Depp).

      Reply

      • Original Heretic

        February 8, 2021 at 07:00

        Cancel culture is going to end up cancelling itself.

        Reply

  4. RideBoks

    February 5, 2021 at 04:22

    I still love Louie CK although his case doesn’t seem to be as bad as others , with his worst offense being the holding the door in the one story apparently never happened.

    But I think in most cases I could separate the art from the artist, but if you truly feel the person is evil and still support them financially I don’t get that. As Gavin points out probably Bill Cosby but I only really enjoyed some of his stuff as a kid.

    But I can see people who really appreciate stand up still watching his big specials and enjoy them for what the are. (except for the one late night appearance where he talks about the Spanish fly drug)

    Marilyn Manson’s old music still rocks.

    Reply

    • Mandalorian Jim

      February 8, 2021 at 10:37

      I think Louis CK is even better now, especially after the scandal broke, and he just came out and said “fuck off”. Ricky Gervais has a similar attitude, which practically makes him untouchable. If you don’t apologise, they have no power over you.

      The same thing with Dave Chappelle and even Kevin Hart. When the news broke about Kevin Hart’s infidelity, I merely shrugged, because it had nothing to do with me. It was a private matter, and it should have been dealt with between him and his wife (which basically they did).

      But, when people lost their minds about it, it really started to change how I view the public and how they view celebrities. Then, when they dragged up comments he made a decade ago about gay people, it just soured me to the cancel culture mob, because now you’re venturing into ridiculous territory. He made the mistake of apologising, but soon realised that you don’t, and much like Louis CK just decided to use that anger in their shows, and really go to town on the new puritans.

      It’s strange because Chris Rock and even Jerry Seinfeld said years ago, that you don’t bother with the puritans (back then it was the religious right and now it’s the progressive woke – Two sides of the same retarded coin)

      Reply

  5. konfab

    February 5, 2021 at 05:02

    I enjoy content on this site. ?

    Reply

  6. Alien Emperor Trevor

    February 5, 2021 at 05:18

    Short answer: Yes, it is okay.

    Longer answer: It’s entirely subjective because you process it on a case-by-case basis and you can be wildly inconsistent in how you apply your moral judgement to people, and to the products they’ve produced. If you don’t want to engage with that person or what they’ve produced based on their actions, that’s cool, don’t. I also think you don’t need to feel guilty, or be made to feel guilty by others, about enjoying something they did produce even if you don’t approve of the person. It all boils down to the associations you’ve formed with the product they’ve created, and how strongly negative information about the person affects the positive association you have with the product.

    Reply

    • Skyblue

      February 5, 2021 at 14:57

      Agreed. When I was chuckling at a sitcom before one of the stars was outed as a whatever, I couldn’t take back the chuckle.

      Reply

  7. Iskape

    February 5, 2021 at 05:29

    You may technically be supporting that person, but then again, you are also supporting those with whom they worked. If you were to choose not to enjoy entertaining content because of what has been said about a person producing that content, you might as well choose not to be entertained by all content, because without a doubt, somebody who was involved in the production of that content has some skeleton in their closet that you would object to – it just hasn’t been brought out to the light!

    Reply

  8. konfab

    February 5, 2021 at 05:57

    To give a slightly better answer.

    Yes, it is perfectly fine. The wonderful thing about free market capitalism is that you don’t have to agree with, or even like the people you do business with. So long as the people involved in the transaction are doing it volunarily, the morality of the individuals involved doesn’t matter.

    It also plays down to a misunderstanding of economics. You will only buy something from somone if it is worth more than the money you pay.
    This means that when you buy a book from JK Rowling, you are gaining more value from having the book than if you just say on your money.
    Putting a complete ban on stuff you enjoy because you don’t agree with the creator politically is a perfect example of cutting off your nose to spite the face.

    Reply

  9. Skyblue

    February 5, 2021 at 14:40

    Piss off. I don’t like his persona but the accusations haven’t held up to scrutiny yet. I do not approve in any way, shape or form of the abuse of anybody but this moron (Gen X tonsil who learned to milk a younger generation) hasn’t actually been convicted yet. I don’t like the man and I certainly don’t like the allegations but how does one tweet from an estranged partner get you convicted in the press?

    And yes, I know about the other allegations and someone will argue about the fact that it took a celebrity to lodge a complaint.

    Also, why do I have to load the website in “incognito mode” to post a comment? I don’t have this problem elsewhere and I do fear it will lead to the site’s demise, eventually.

    Reply

    • Gavin Mannion

      February 8, 2021 at 00:14

      “Also, why do I have to load the website in “incognito mode” to post a comment? ”

      Well that’s weird, what happens when you don’t load in incognito mode?

      Reply

      • Skyblue

        February 9, 2021 at 01:42

        No comments or adverts. I like the latter part…

        Answered my own question when I read my last sentence. It was my ad-blocker, sorted.

        Reply

  10. Quentin Els

    February 6, 2021 at 01:18

    try and stop being so fragile and if its still too hard to handle then consider getting off of social media, im sure if you really tried you can get you’re attention/ego boost fix irl/somewhere else, all that social media is leading to is mass censorship because people have different opinions so snowflakes and weak willed oversensitive individuals think they have the right to try and cancel people or govern the way people should think

    gotta love social dystopianism

    Reply

    • Mandalorian Jim

      February 8, 2021 at 05:46

      Social media is a huge problem – because a) it’s not representative of the world at large b) it’s allowed everyone with an opinion to think their view of the world is the only correct one c) it allows narcissists to flourish d) it allows access to creators in a way that I don’t think is healthy for creators and for their customers. e) It’s just made people dumb, lazy and unable to use simple critical thinking skills (it’s like the old gossip rags)

      I don’t think you can create if you’re constantly watching over your shoulder and wondering what the infernal blue-haired brigade or the nutcase “Muh Libertarian Freedums” are screaming about.

      Quite frankly, if you’re a creator, you should just hire a media liason, let them deal with the monkeys at the gate, keep everything apolitical, maybe see what the general view is on your product, but also realise that the uber-fan is probably not the one you should aim your work at. If someone starts dictating to you about your characters, and what they want to see, their opinion really shouldn’t even be considered.

      Reply

  11. Mandalorian Jim

    February 8, 2021 at 03:54

    lol, always separate the art from the individual, because if you don’t you’re going to get into a situation where nothing is acceptable to your own personal morality compass. Let’s take this website as an example, I think a few of the writers here are abysmal individuals, with questionable morals, ethics and political views, but I still read their content, because for the most part some of their writing is enjoyable. Of course, every once in a while, I gladly point out hypocrisy.

    Similarly, if an individual is a horrible person in real life, and yet create amazing art, movies, books etc., does it really matter what the individual’s stance on things are? Does it matter what their politics are?

    It really doesn’t, nor should it. One of my favourite graphic novels, Fables is written by a guy who has extremely opinionated views on the right of Israel to exist over the rights of the Palestinians for instance. To the point where it goes beyond just classic Zionism, but into the realm of actual racism. Does that mean, I shouldn’t read his books? Also, take Mark Waid as an example, a horrible pile of human excrement, and yet Kingdom Come is an amazing book (of course you could argue Alex Ross is the real creative force behind that one). Or what about Ethan van Scyver, who’s current crowdfunded books on Cyberfrog are legitimately some of the best comics to come out of the indies in years.

    But the truth is, it’s very rare that most people even care who produces or creates what they watch or consume, and it’s really only in the domain of the uber-fan or the blogger.

    Tl;dr
    It doesn’t matter…. just enjoy what you like, and don’t care about the background noise. Living in the realm of social media makes it difficult because you’re constantly surrounded by other nutcases who get offended about everything. I mean take how people were gunning for HP Lovecraft recently (completely forgetting the time the man was alive, and that he’d obviously have questionable views on race, and yet his books are the foundation of modern horror as we know it). You can’t change that, nor can you change the fact that the man had a talent for horror and a talent for writing.

    Reply

    • Gavin Mannion

      February 8, 2021 at 05:21

      personally I’d question the morals of someone who values their own entertainment over the barbaric acts of the creator… but hey, each to their own

      Reply

      • Mandalorian Jim

        February 8, 2021 at 05:27

        Personally, I don’t care what people do in their own time. Who they sleep with, what their personal preferences are, what their personal views are on the world. But, if they write a decent story, and create art that is thought provoking or entertaining, I’m not going to act high-and-mighty and scream like a little baby on twitter about it.

        But hey.. each to their own.

        Reply

  12. MechMachine

    February 9, 2021 at 19:27

    Depends. This is a hot topic filled. I
    If the creator is a criminal responsible for heinous acts, I might feel a level of repulsion. I can draw comparison from finding out that certain Directors I enjoyed we’re sexual predators.
    Hitler..

    When it comes to the social media scandals, I believe things can get out of hand very quickly. Cancel culture is a serious issue. Where is the humanity in people killing themselves because they we’re found guilty by media ?

    We aren’t equipped to deal with the mass condemnation that comes with Twitter.

    If Manson is guilty, he doesn’t deserve his status. I blame the pressure of social media and cancel culture for the JK Rowling situation. Cosby is in jail. R. Kelly is dodgy as hell.

    I question why you included JK Rowling ? Seems a little insincere considering the magnitude of the others ? You could have included Polanski.

    History often uncovers the truth about unsavory famous figures, especially ones who were around recently. Maybe that’s the silver lining of social media. It uncovers evil where it exhists.

    Reply

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