Should the value of art be kept separated from the artist?
For some, answering this can be a thorny path. Not for me though. I’ll happily show my cards and admit that no matter how much of a dirtbag an individual may be, if I enjoy their book, music, movie etc., I have no qualms supporting it. After all, it’s not the art’s fault. Right?
The reason I mention this isn’t because I’m one of those sensational seedy dirtbags you might read about (or am I? Mwha-ha-ha…no, I’m not!) is because of a book I’m currently reading: The Monster Hunters by Larry Correia. I started reading this book because a reviewer compared me, or rather, my Hourglass books, to it, and out of interest, I dived in to check out. First things first, I am really enjoying it. Perhaps there’s a little too much gun porn in it, and I’m talking a full-on Michael Bay military chubbie, but still, it’s a relentlessly swift B-movie of monster mashing and colourful characters. That’s what the book is advertised as, and so I’m not going to complain when I get it in spades. But the aforementioned gun porn thing, I don’t mean there’s lots of guns in it, because I’m fine with that in my entertainment (maybe I’ll do a follow-up blog on this: urban fantasy and guns vs magic), but it’s the author’s glaringly unashamed love of firearms; not just for slaying demons in fictional works, but in real life. There’s no mistaking this, as he does drown a lot of prose and dialogue in sheer high calibre detail.
But you know what, I’m still digging the story.
Anyway, after I was about a quarter of the way through the book, I came across some reviews which had reassessed their rating of this book (and some which had done likewise to several of his books) not because of the book’s/books’ quality, but apparently, Mr Correia is a bit of a crank, and a troll, and something-something causing a stink about the Hugo awards nominees/winners. I’m not going to dredge all of that up, because it’s easy enough to find if you’re curious (look, you already have a phone in your hand), and I don’t want to detract from my point which is, yes, the guy seems to have a raging boner for guns, and The Monster Hunter series is quite openly anti-government.
For the record, I love guns in movies, books, games, because it’s entertainment. In real life, I don’t. Shock horror, the world is a truly, irredeemably fucked-up place, because of people. You should be allowed to protect yourself and your loved ones. That goes without saying. But nobody outside of military service should have access to assault rifles and the like. For people who live in the US, if they need to exercise their right to home protection, then I think they should have access to nothing more dangerous than a handgun. But opinions are like arseholes (fill in the rest – the expression I mean, the arsehole is your own prerogative.)
Mr. Correia will undoubtedly disagree with my opinion, and chances are, I probably wouldn’t want to have a beer with the guy if he is in fact some borderline fruit-bat with an NRA T-shirt and a gun fetish, but whilst I might not share his politics, for me to suddenly pretend that I don’t actually enjoy his book, is some weak bullshit. Own your opinions people. Even to those who might not want to buy his books and support him, that’s fine. But don’t do a 180 and act like you didn’t mean the nice things you previously said about his work.
The artist might have problems. The art, whilst formed from a problematic artist, doesn’t necessarily mean it can hold no merit.
Let’s be honest, there’s a very good chance Michael Jackson did some bad shit. Does that mean I’m not going to tap my foot to Smooth Criminal or Dirty Diana? Of course not.
Everyone has the right to their opinions, obviously, that’s a given. But I think some people need to be a little more honest and pragmatic in expressing and holding them.
Honorary bad guy mentions:
- I have been a massive Joss Whedon fan since the first series of Buffy aired. And so it was a blow to learn that the dude I admired creatively is a scumbag. Don’t like the man, but I’m not going to suddenly act like I no longer like Buffy, Angel, Firefly, or frigging Avengers Assemble.
- On second thoughts, I’ll leave it at that. I’m sure at this rate it won’t be long before all of the heroes and idols we’ve admired are revealed to be conspiracy crackpots, junkies, Bible bashers, thugs, drink drivers, lizard people, spouse beaters, pooch punchers, bullies, rapists, goat-shaggers, murderers, and Scientologists. If you must, hate the artist, but don’t pretend that something which impressed and inspired you, didn’t. Be objective in your criticism, and not just a vocal purveyor of irrational outrage.
Daniel James is an author of speculative (and sometimes dark and weird) fiction from Liverpool, England.
He is the recipient of two Kirkus Star reviews for his character-driven, action-packed urban fantasy novels Hourglass and The Ferryman’s Toll. Hourglass was also voted one of their Best 100 Indie novels of 2021.