DeviantArt premium accounts have a polling feature. I never bothered with it because I didn’t expect anyone would respond, but some of the people I watch kept making these boring polls, over and over, and I finally was like ‘shit, I can make up better questions than these…’.
Just like here the percentage of vocal people is fairly small, but they do have interesting opinions. There’s also some overlap, so some of this is going to me OFN for them. Anyway, I’m going to present to you the same questions and, rather than it being a poll, you can just respond however you like. I’m going to present them in a more sensical order than I did originally. Anyone who responded previously feel free to expand upon any thoughts you had.
What follows is the original poll question and my considered response:
Does finding out a major character flaw in an artist ruin your enjoyment of his, or her, work?
Clarification: By ‘major flaw’ I mean something like bigotry, but what qualifies as major is up for debate.
I find that if I learn something negative about an artist I have a hard time ever enjoying his work. My present colors my past. For the most part I try to avoid learning very much about artists I like. This goes for all art, from writing to music. If I find out the creator is racist it skews my experience. The severity of the flaw matches how much I can, or can’t, enjoy the work. Racism pretty much destroys an artist for me. On the other hand if someone makes porn on the side, or whatever, it doesn’t bother me at all because I’m not morally opposed to porn. For someone else that might be a deal breaker.
I don’t know what it is in me that makes it hard for me to separate the artist and the art, but I generally can’t. I started thinking about this because I was reading an article about a famous artist and they mentioned, in passing, that he was a massive bigot. As soon as that info processed his work looked different to me. It was tinged by knowledge… This shouldn’t be taken as an argument against knowledge. For me it’s just a precaution. I know that if I find certain things out about a creator I may end up having to trash shelves full of books, and years of fandom, from not being able to distinguish between an artist and his, or her, work.
The article in question was about James McNeil Whistler, who painted an Arrangement In Grey And Black, commonly known as Whistler’s Mother. He was an old school racist. That was back in Civil War days for America. He was living abroad at the time but, when it looked like the south was going to be beaten, his mother, a confederate, escaped to live with him.
Dude actually had a pretty wild life. In fact, I guess he was friends with Oscar Wilde, until they got crossed purposes. Wilde even modled the murdered artist in Dorian Gray after Whistler. Of course when Wilde was outed that went over really well with Jimmy…
Anyway, that was just what got me thinking about this stuff.