Separating "art" from the "artist"

To what degree does the behavior of an artist (in any medium) affect your enjoyment of their output?

Pretty strongly, if I hear about it. I don’t tend to go digging into the lives of my favorites, but if something crosses my radar, it’s going to affect my choices. I won’t be re-reading any of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s novels, for example, nor reading any more of Orson Scott Card’s.

I’ve had to unfollow some stars on Twitter because they were just too political. I want to hear about the shows and the movies, not their multiple daily rants on politics.

i prefer to “hear” what they say through their art.

if and actor has something to say about the new administration; say it in a movie.

if a sci-fi writer has something to say about homosexuality, write a book.

if a singer has something to say about women’s rights, sing a song about it.

if they want to do something as a person and citizen they should do something real, like donate to a cause or organize a fund raiser.

i find artists who choose non-political public events to spout off about their concerns not only annoying, but i cheapens their message. makes it seem as if its the only thing they can be bothered to do.

if i happen to hear of the pollitcal or social viewpoints of an artist thru some other way (eg, gossip mags, or biased news sources) i’m apt to not care, even if its a stance that i oppose. i figure its every citizens right to participate in the process. good for them!

if their art or business actively discriminates, rather than promotes. i will actively avoid supporting them. for example; i dont think chik-fil-a actively discriminates against any one, the owners “promote” what they consider to be a southern baptist way off life. just because i dont agree with some of the things in that “philosophy” doesnt mean they shouldnt be allowed. on the other hand, exxon and bp actively trying to get out of their fiscal responsibility to clean up their mess does make me not purchase their products.

i realize those two examples are not artists, but its what popped into my head.


Certainly artists can do all those things, but if you’re saying that the *only *way they should be allowed to comment on social issues is through their chosen art form, then I couldn’t disagree more.

It’s easy for me to separate the art from the artist if it’s just some dude singing on the radio.
But it’s a little harder to separate the art from the artists if I have to look at their face on the TV screen.

So musicians pretty much get a pass, while actors face more scrutiny.

An artist’s personal views don’t affect my enjoyment of their art, and I don’t really see how it could unless their art is deeply couched in politics and then I probably wouldn’t be interested anyway.

sorry, wheelz, if i wasnt clear, my post should be taken as a whole.

when artists talk as artists, i think they should talk thru their art. thats what theyre good at, when artists are being rewarded for their art they should say thank you, and give recognition to others who may have helped in creating the art. holding your award above your head and shouting some political words is not only rude to the presenters and the audience, but innefective and possibly counterproductive. and i’ve never been intersted in knowing the artist outside of there art. i dont care about who theyre sleeping with, what political candidate they support, etc.

art can be a very powerful medium in which to get a message accross. it has the power to change minds and influence thinking. artists can sometimes achieve a certain level of celebrity. and celebrity can be powerful in getting attention to a cause that you feel strongly about. the problem, for me, comes when that celebrity artist feels that they can speak about their cause whenever and where ever they want. it can come across as shrill and preachy, and can dilute its potential impact.

citizens speaking their mind can also have a very powerful effect. but there is a difference in engaging in productive debate and yelling at those who dont agree with you. artists are of course citizens as well, and these rules of decorum shoulld apply to them as well.

on the otherside of the coin, as consumers of art (which i think the op was really asking about) i think we have to walk a tightrope. artists should be encouraged to produce art freely. even art that maybe be controversial, or have an unpopular viewpoint. and the consumer should be allowed to respond with their dollars or withholding those same dollars.

i think criticiism of art too often takes the form of trying to prevent the artist from making the art. when it should be more about just not consuming art you dont like.

personally, ive never come across art that was so distasteful or offensive that it affected the way i feel about the artist. but i have come accross art that i found just plain bad or boring, but i usually try to give the artist a second chance.

prob more than you wanted to know, but there it is


I like Clint Eastwood as an actor and a director despite him endorsing some utterly terrible politics.

I like Mel Gibson as an actor and a director despite him saying some utterly repulsive things.

I like Charlton Heston despite the whole NRA thing.

I guess I can enjoy film peoples’ work without their unpleasantness affecting my enjoyment.

nevermind all that stuff i said before, this is better; just change “film people’s” to “an artist’s” . thank you, shakester.


It makes a difference whether the ‘problem area’ of an artist’s personal life is related to his work or not.

Isaac Newton was a religious fanatic with all kinds of weird ideas. Does that make his vast contribution to physics and mathematics invalid? Most certainly not. It’s unrelated.

Scott Adams supports Trump. Does that mean we shouldn’t read Dilbert? Maybe, because it’s related. Do we really want to read a cartoon which contains social commentary, by someone whose personal judgment on social issues is so bad?

Wagner was an anti-Semite. Should we listen to his music? I think even in Israel a majority of people accept that we should. The quality of his music is not related to his beliefs about Jews.

Roman Polanski apparently drugged and raped a young girl. Does that make him a bad film director, or just a bad man?

Everyone, including artists, has their faults and their mistaken beliefs. The question is whether an artist’s faults and beliefs affect his art or not.

We all have to judge for ourselves on a case by case basis.

I’m firmly on the “not separate” side of the fence -I make an active choice not to support artists whose moral behaviour I find abhorrent. See the Marion Zimmer Bradley threads for my feelings on the matter.

I agree with you here to a degree… But imagine if Wagner was still alive, and every time you heard “Ride of the Valkyries”, he was getting paid in a way you could easily find out was being channeled to antisemitic or neo-nazi sources. This is why I refuse to patronize anything remotely attached to Orson Scott Card - “Ender’s Game” may be a genius book, but if my reading it puts more money in the pocket of the kind of people who will fight tooth and nail against equal rights and protections for homosexuals, I’m not going to read it. There’s enough good art made by people who aren’t fucking awful human beings.

You can separate it to a degree, but when people start giving the proceeds of their work to hate groups like the National Organization for Marriage, purchasing it is giving those groups more money and power.

It doesn’t matter, until it does.

Clearly an eye of the beholder thing.

We’ve done this question a few times before haven’t we?

If you have a despicable figure produce a good piece of art/literature/performance that does not propagandize that which is morally or politically objectionable, I am more likely to give it a pass than one that does. It has to be pretty bad before I go into the “I don’t want to put a cent in his pocket” mode, and if it’s a matter of merely his/her *lawful *offstage political statements I am far more lenient than if he’s actively contributing to the evil side.

For historic personages of course we have the added factor of “a creature of his time” at work and that’s a whole other story.

I see that a lot of people here, as everywhere, have failed to think through what SHOULD be the most obvious thing about this whole subject area.

Almost everyone thinks of famous people, artists, sports figures, important people from histories, as being something other than they are. Not as the same kind of people who we each deal with every day.

At the same time as they complain that famous people should not use their fame to promote personal agendas, they fail to realize that by making that demand, that THEY are using their idea of what famous people are all about to declare boundaries for them, which they don’t hold themselves to. In short, most people who make a fuss about this, are really hypocrites, but don’t realize they are, because a majority of people who join the fray are just as hypocritical as they are.

I work hard to hold myself to a basic standard of consistency. I think that what THIS is really about, is how each of us react to and deal with people who we have mixed sensibilities about.

In my own small life, there are some things a person can do and be that upset me tremendously, to the point where I can’t tolerate them in my life at all, even when they are for the moment, behaving well. There are lots of other things that people do, which I find disgusting or annoying, but I don’t care about enough to eject them from my life for. And of course there’s stuff in between, where I only deal with the person under circumstances where I know I wont have to see or hear them indulge in whatever I dislike about them.

Same thing for famous people, as for non-famous people.

I don’t generally discriminate against art by an artist whose actions or views I dislike, but I hold myself open to the possibility. I don’t think the “Well, I can always separate the two” perspective is any more open-minded or noble than throwing away all your MZB books. It’s a huge world filled with tons of meaningful art that you can never consume in a lifetime so there’s nothing wrong with being selective on a personal basis.

I’ve no beef about celebrities using their fame as a platform for their thoughts. Everyone does it to their own limits. If I had something I felt passionately about, I’d speak about it on a well-populated web forum or Facebook or something because that’s my largest available audience. If I had a million people following me on Twitter or watching me on television then I’d take advantage of that platform instead. If someone just won an award and wants to use their allotted time to speak for a cause instead of thanking their mom, hey, it’s their five minutes. Go win Best Actor and you can do whatever you want with your five minutes.

If the artist is an awful person or did awful things it can cast a bit of a pall over his or her work, but generally it doesn’t affect my appreciation of it. Key examples for me are Richard Wagner (noxious anti-Semite), Michael Jackson (child molester) and Bill Cosby (sexual predator). I like their stuff, and their work stands on its own merits. I will go out of my way to avoid putting money into the pockets of any living objectionable artist, though, and will get a book, DVD or CD from the library rather than buy one.

On these three artists I’ll agree. I do draw the line at artists who are actively organizing and leading terrible things. In particular I won’t watch anything with Tom Cruise.

I like to read Doug TenNaple’s graphic novels and play his video games. I also find him a reprehensible person with really shitty views. I also recognize that in the grand scheme of things, he doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.

I do share the ostensible values of the those involved with the Simpsons and the staff of the National Geographic. They are however both employed by Rupert Murdoch, someone who DOES have massive political clout, and also employs the likes of Fox News. Every subscription to NG or purchased box set of the Simpsons keeps Bill O’Reilly behind an anchor’s desk.