Monday, March 11, 2013

An Artist and Their Art

There's been a recent brouhaha which if you read this you probably know about and already have an opinion of: Orson Scott Card. In general, but the specific event was his hiring to write a Superman comic. Comics may or may not have wider appeal in the liberal and homosexual demographics than in conservative ones, but it definitely has a very vocal population, one that has been emboldened by recent victories. DC was in some hot water until the artist decided to pull away from the project, something that gracefully spares DC and OSC any sort of dramatic confrontation. DC won't rehire him, thus sparing themselves this battle and OSC won't get into a huge battle and have to defend his reputation, make a fool of himself for saying he would "destroy the government" or any other sort of interaction with a pulpit. It additionally allows DC to sort of creep away without making any definitive statements of corporate policy towards gay marriage which is ehh.

But really, I want to talk about whether buying OSC's works, like Ender's Game or the somehow quite good Homecoming saga, and whether or not their purchase supports homophobic efforts by financially supporting him.

I want to make my thoughts very clear before I enunciate on them.

You are not a bad person if you buy something and somebody does something bad with that money. 

Even if you have an inkling of what they might do. I'm not saying if you went to a store run by Al-Qaeda and bought their shit and then they used your money to bomb the crap out of us, you wouldn't be guilty, but really you'd only be guilty of being a giant moron. Or evil, and if you're evil then why are you worrying about this?

Art is different from a lot of jobs. There's a lot of yourself in what you create, and like a sniper in war, you are intimately tied to your actions. Unlike a faceless McDonald's employee (some of whom do bad, illegal and immoral things with their money) a writer is their job. You don't think about whether that McDonald's guy is going to go home and support homophobic efforts, and if you did, would you still stop it?
But it's still a job, and you're still creating art for other people to enjoy, whatever the form. You can not partake of their art, and that is the moral high ground, but if you do, you should pay for it. Many of us disagree with Chik-fil-a's corporate stance on homosexuality, but if you were starving and the only place to eat was a Chik-fil-a, you wouldn't go in and say 'I demand you give me food! I disagree with your stance on homosexuality but I require your services!'

I bring this up because in today's day and age, it is incredibly easy to steal art, especially when compared to real objects. Because computers are basically big art boxes, and the internet is a giant blob of free art. Movies, music, pictures, books, games, with 3-D printers you can copy sculptures and objects... We're inundated with so much art, so much of it free, that it's literally impossible to pay for it all, even if you wanted to. I'm pretty sure Bill Gates would go broke if he tried to buy literally every piece of art on the internet. But it's important to remember that all that free stuff comes from people, and all those people need jobs. OSC may be a dick, but for many of us, he made things we loved, and he deserves to be paid for them. Ender's Game is something I would actually qualify as an important book, something people should read, and they should buy it. Or at least get it from the library. And they are not homophobes if they do so.

How many books have you read from authors that are not women, and not Mark Twain, who lived before 1900? Sadly, they were pretty much all racist, chauvinist pigs. Because that was normal for their time and the way they were raised. Since we're reading their books 200+ years later, it means they wrote something important, something great. And we shouldn't look at the pieces any less for knowing that they came from someone terrible. It's important to know, but it shouldn't be what decides the value of the art.

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