Putting this in “Flamewars” just because of the hell of it.
I won’t deny that I’m having this conundrum due to current things going on. Earlier this year I decided I would finally get around reading the Harry Potter series. I never read it as a child even though I would have been the proper age when it was first released, but it’s cultural impact is still felt today. Plus most of my nerd friends are also fans and I thought I should finally get up to it. Admittedly, I am having a lot of fun with the series. I have some criticisms of it (simplicity, reliance on stereotypes, exposition dumps) but overall I find the series so far very enjoyable, currently in the middle of the third book with the rest on my shelf.
And then of course J.K. Rowling has to happen. I was already aware that she had made herself less popular in recent years, both by unnecessarily augmenting the Harry Potter universe after the facts (“wizards shat on the floor, then teleported the shit away” to paraphrase) and with some troubling political statements. But this week she went and pulled some straight TERF bullshit with her support of Maya Forester. So now I am debating with myself whether I really want to continue the series.
I am of course hardly the first person to be unsure if it is possible to separate art from artist. There is also a discussion to be had about people being products of their time, such as anti-trans-arguments are for now still viewed as somewhat acceptable (which they shouldn’t be) by society at large. And of course there is a degree how bad the act itself is compared to other dealings. As a kid I loved to watch The Cosby Show (which only made it to germany/austria several years after it became a hit in the U.S.) but I am unsure how to engage with that show nowadays after it came to light that Bill Cosby is a serial rapist. Of course Rowling’s conduct is not as severe, and there is a larger degree of separation between the written words of an author and having to see a person perform in a visual medium, but those are still just degrees of the same conundrum.
I have also similar issues with how to engage with Overwatch nowadays. I am a big fan of the game, its professional league, and particular the lore of the game. However, I have not played it (or any other Blizzard game for that matter) since Activision Blizzard bowed its head to the Chinese government.
For now I am leaning toward finishing the Harry Potter series, but I doubt I will spend any more money on the Potter universe. I won’t buy any merchandise, though my fandom of Lego did tease me for that when I started out, and if I still desire to see the movies they made from the books I will pirate them instead of using any streaming service to watch them.
But, is that a reasonable approach, or should completely disengaging from an artist be the more reasonable approach? After all, engaging with an artists work is also meant to impart the artists view on the audience, to foster an understanding or sympathy with the artist. Even forgiveness for the artist. Is that even reasonable to forgive an artists transgressions in other parts of life because of the art that they created? Is there even a “correct” answer to these questions?
Have you guys had these conundrums, and how have you solved with them?