Two incredibly astute comments to yesterday’s post, “Peeling Back the Curtain,” got me thinking that maybe I’m on the right track here.
The first is from Unclever Hans, who is actually very clever, but I digress. Hans commented:
This is how I see it.
When you consider exchanging money for a product – whether you’re buying a story from an author or a home from a realtor – you deserve to know whether or not the seller hates you. This is because, in buying that product, you directly support the seller with money that he can use to buy weapons or fund communists.
As a firm believer that our innermost thoughts inevitably influence our actions, I simply cannot bring myself to separate the art from the artist for this reason. Thus, if an author is dumb enough to rant on social media about how much he hates me and wants me to go face-first into a wood chipper, then more power to him. Politics is simply another means of gauging whether or not I should be someone’s patron.
“Politics is simply another means of gauging whether or not I should be someone’s patron.”
Excellent point! This goes to Brian Niemeier‘s philosophy of “Don’t give money to people who hate you.” Nowadays, thanks to the Internet, you can now know with absolute certainty who hates you and who doesn’t.
Note that “disagree with” is different than “hate.” I touch on this in my post “Art as Art,” but I’d like to delve deeper into that here.
The thing is, as Alexandru Constantin said in his post that I referenced yesterday, “. . . I’ve realized all art is strictly in the philosophical and the political.” Everything is connected. Everything. How can one not be influenced by the philosophical and the political if one is writing anything of substance?
I love escapism. There’s nothing wrong with excitement and adventure. But escapism is not “fluff.” Even believing in heroic heroes who are objectively good fighting the objectively evil is a philosophical and political belief! As is nihilism.
In light of this, if you know a writer hates you and everything you stand for, why enrich them? Isn’t it good to know?
Our second comment comes from Xavier Basora:
Concour with uncleaver Hans. 2 of the most important courses I took in high school and again at university was social and political thought in literature. Completely blew me away and réoriented my outlook. No longer do i read books ignorantly but closely as to what the authour advocates.
Those courses also introduced to 2 of my favourite English books Watership Down and the Dispossessed
“No longer do i read books ignorantly but closely as to what the authour advocates.”
You almost have to nowadays. Knowing what John Scalzi thinks about Christians, I’m never buying another of his books again. Knowing what N.K. Jemisin thinks about white men, I’m never buying one of her books. Knowing what Stephen King thinks about anybody to the right of Chairman Mao, I’m never buying another one of his books.
Contrast this with, say, some of my favorite musicians. Coheed and Cambria are, no doubt, on the left, but insult nobody in their music or their lyrics. One of my personal favorites, Frank Zappa, became an anti-Christian bigot and a boring, cranky doctrinaire Democrat late in his life, but he created enough good stuff that doesn’t insult for me to still listen . . . although Broadway the Hard Way, by far his most political album, has aged TERRIBLY.
Back on the authorial front, if I still cared about anyone in the Big 5, Brandon Sanderson seems like a guy who doesn’t hate his audience. I honestly don’t know enough other prominent modern fantasy and sci-fi authors to draw any other conclusions.
Don’t get me started on comic books and movies. There are entire companies whose stuff I refuse to spend money on. Why? Because they hate me and they’re happy to show it.
This goes back to the movie Hoaxed and what its makers were trying to say. What’s the end goal of lies and division? In media, it isn’t to inform you. It’s to eliminate the opposition, and quite literally since people actually get hurt and die as a result of fake news. Given the power of pop culture to influence people, sometimes I can’t escape the conclusion that this is the same end goal many creators of it have as well.
For a creative work that will not insult you, unless you’re evil, my debut novel A Traitor to Dreams is on sale for a $0.99 eBook download, though it is also available in print. Read what has been called “a fun and strange adventure” and “a page-turner with depth.”