Knowing Who Hates You and Why

hate-dreams-meaning

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:

Alexander,

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
xavier

“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.

gxkwotd

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.”

ebook-37

 

38 comments

  1. A Traitor to Dreams doesn’t insult you? Sign me up – on one condition.

    I saw your comment on the Emperor’s Notepad regarding “showing” vs telling in literature. As long as your novel’s narrator doesn’t have cinema envy, I might check it out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been navigating the murky waters of modern fiction literature for a while. Back before the internet, stories were stories. Good stories sold books, and the thinly-veiled messages were less prominent. I try not to let it influence my writing too much, but still… what I believe is going to come through.

    It’s the same way with music- what you buy directly funds what those artists support. With worship/church music, this becomes a problem when the best-selling albums come from churches that preach heresy. At some point, you have to be a good steward of your money.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Internet ruins everything. While I’m glad that people reveal their darker sides online, it also causes people to insult you in ways that they never would to your face.

      With regard to heresey, I find it easier to forgive than outright apostasy. Then again, the only remotely Christian song that I listen to for recreation is Lordi’s “Hard Rock Hallelujah.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • Some will come through no matter what, because when you tell a story you’re sharing a part of yourself. The idea, like you said, is to focus on the story part and what serves the story.

      As a consumer, I totally support finding people who don’t hate you. That just sounds like common sense. “A good steward of your money” is an excellent way to put it.

      Like

  3. Alexander,

    Thanks for the kudo:)

    Here’so the strange thing. The vast majority of contemporary writers really anti theist but boy do they try to write their Imitation of Christmas booklets.
    The result is both a parody and dull oeuvre.
    They just can’t write good little so we get mediocre sermons

    xavier

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In 2 years I have become very militant about this. It was a double combo of not wanting to spend money on people that hate me and a change of attitude about the depressing/boring propaganda those creators make.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m not going to name names, but a favorite writer of mine from childhood that I idolized got on Twitter and made a total ass of himself right after the Boston Marathon bombing some years back and probably pissed off 90% of the fans that read it.

    I stopped buying his books.

    But nothing in his books are political at all, and years later, I’ve found that I really don’t give a shit what he thinks politically. It doesn’t make his stories any less good, it doesn’t reduce the quality of his writing or the impact they’ve had in my life.

    He’s not someone I’d really want to hang around with at a fancy dinner party. But I’d still buy him a beer for all those books he wrote that got me through some dark times.

    I felt like a lot of people did once upon a time, some 15 years ago now, that I wasn’t going to support people who ‘hate me’.

    But then, years later as I matured (code for ‘got older’), I realized a few things.

    They don’t hate you. Not as an individual anyway. People are just rabid asshole nitwits on Twitter. They may hate your political party. Who cares? If you think that both mainstream parties aren’t two sides of the same coin controlled by special interest groups, you’ve likely not been paying attention. So they hate your party. Big whoop. Put on the big boy panties. They don’t hate YOU as an individual. If they see you on the street, they’re not going to think you have a punchable face.

    Division by politics is one of the huge things that separates people in our country, usually over the dumbest shit imaginable.

    Now I don’t think that we’re going to have anything even remotely resembling some kind of kumbayah huggy nation. Far from it. People disagree, that’s fine. People hate opposting parties. That’s fine.

    Your ‘in’ group SHOULD be close to tribal and very small. Exclusion is a GOOD thing. It helps narrow down what YOU find important.

    Some of the best authors that I’ve ever read, were in real life, people I wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire.

    My favorite (deceased) author Robert A. Heinlein is one of those people. He had some STRANGE fuckin’ ideas. But he was also immensely interesting and wrote some AMAZING sci fi.

    Moral of the story: You don’t need to like much less love your favorite authors. In fact, it may even be good if you don’t, so you don’t idolize them too much. We’re all mortal, fragile, terrible things just trying to get by one day to the next.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a good point: If the creative works themselves are good and not insulting, it makes it far easier to justify spending money on them.

      You also make a good point about the crucial disagreement vs. being a dick distinction.

      You can tell us who the author is!

      Like

  6. One of the elements I enjoy in his writing is his ability to get into character’s mindsets, so while one may not like Governor Stillson, one can understand him. To me that seems like someone with a high degree of empathy so his saying what he did online is surprising. It’s one thing to disagree politically but another to mention karma in relation to an accident, people dying etc.

    Like you mentioned earlier I doubt he’d be saying these things without twitter as a platform, heck, without the online communities he may not have even felt it which is frightening in its own way. But I’m speculating, who knows?

    Liked by 1 person

    • For all we could know, his ability to write empathetically could just be a gift that had nothing to do with his real-life personality.

      I’m just going based on his public statements. Because he seems like a really nasty, unhinged man.

      Like

  7. David Mamet (in his dramatic writing MasterClass I’m taking) makes a very good point. The point of drama is to entertain, not teach.

    No one wants a political lecture in their movie, tv show, fantasy book, etc.

    People watch or read these things to get away from that kind of crap.

    Back when I used to play Warcraft I hated it when people brought their real world politics into the game. This is even when I still cared about politics. I went there to ESCAPE the ‘real world’, not have it follow me into everything. This just ticks people off.

    It’s never a good idea to tick off your audience too much. Or they won’t be your audience for long.

    I didn’t know or care about this some 15 years ago and going back through some of my old archived writings the past few days, I see how utterly laced with the crap I cared about at the time politically. If I use any of that old stuff, I’m going to gut the politics out of it entirely. It’s juvenile, really. Which makes sense, it was written in my late 20’s. Now in my early 40’s, that’s completely not me.

    We aren’t Voltaire or Thoreau. Most of us aren’t really trying to get the world to stand up and take notice.

    We’re entertainers. We build worlds that people lose themselves in for a little bit to make their horrible, short, difficult, miserable lives a little less miserable. We’re peddlers of mental narcotics.

    So let’s entertain.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Entertainment is what it’s about. And I love the term “mental narcotics.” But even a belief in good and evil, in happy endings, is political. At least, these days when we have no common American culture.

      This goes back to allegory versus propaganda. Allegory connects to deep truths about human nature, whereas propaganda is designed to either promote one specific viewpoint, harm another, or do both.

      The issue is that we have half of America who doesn’t believe in deep truths about human nature, even in entertainment. That’s why even storytelling basics have become political.

      Our side didn’t start this, but this is how things are.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. —Good point about it being King’s talent. I figured his more or less low key nature in Bangor, giving blurbs/trying to help other authors and concern about Rage and school shootings showed a more compassionate side. Again, I don’t know so I’ll stop speculating here.

    —I enjoy a variety of books/movies/comics but overt political writing, intrusive author’s views are a turn-off. I think most people respond to the universal morals, kindness, good people struggling to overcome bad situations/people, redpemption, those who struggle between doing bad or good and so on.

    I also believe pure escapism exists completely 100% free of politics of any persuasion.

    Anyway, who the hell wants to be lectured at anyway?!

    Peace!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. In fairness, I don’t think anyone should read Stephen King on account of the fact that he is a terrible writer whose fiction has aged like sour milk 🙂

    In all seriousness, most people genuinely do not care about an author’s politics and it has never been an issue as far as I know, but I don’t like giving money to people who declare how much they hate me; even if they aren’t talking on an individual level they clearly state they despise anyone who share my views. I’m not asking content creators to treat their fans like royalty but I at least ask them to keep a modicum of respect and not try to alienate potential costumers over such petty things as political differences. Whether they like it or not, if they are expecting people to buy their stuff they need to learn how to not insult potential customers. If they still do it, I take my money elsewhere. I don’t think anyone ever had a problem with J.K. Rowling being a leftist and espousing her political views; what we did have a problem with is her attacking her own fans when they criticized her dumb decisions(karma is a bitch, though, as she is constantly shooting herself in the foot).

    One of my favorite modern writers is China Mieville; the man is a socialist lunatic, but he has always been upfront about his views and has never tried as far as I know to alienate people from his writing over issues of politics. His fiction is definitely informed by his worldview but it isn’t propaganda. For the most part anyway. That’s all I ask from writers. Likewise, Michael Moorcock is an author I admire but whose worldview and attitude I could not despise any more. But his fiction, for the most part, isn’t preachy and that’s what I am asking for. If authors are good enough and are at least subtle with their politics, their worldview doesn’t matter all that much.

    It is something we have to either get used to or find alternative ways to entertain ourselves. I, for one, have no problem with this because I’ve found ways to keep myself entertained for many years without supporting people who openly hate me. So I’m satisfied.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right! Disagreement over policy or whatever is a completely different thing then actively insulting anyone who dares hold a different opinion! Any time a writer or musician or actor or whomever says, for example, “All people who voted for Trump are evil heartless racists who eat children,” I’m like “YOU will never get another effing cent from me, dickface,” and I feel completely justified.

      J.K. Rowling and Stephen King seem like people so far removed from the real world thanks to their wealth, prestige, and influence, so used to being glad-handed and told “Yes yes yes!” by sycophants, they can’t perceive anyone could disagree with their faultless intellects, or why they should ever face consequences for their espoused vitriol.

      Oh well.

      Like

  10. I think sometime after Misery, King really became hit or miss with the misses happening more frequently.

    Later King like the Tommyknockers, Under the Dome, Needful Things etc. all suffer from bloat in addition to not being very interesting on their own to begin with. Revival could’ve been a short story. The Outsider was not good.

    While he’s published some good short stories a lot of those haven’t worked either. Just After Sunset was largely awful and I think there was one or two I liked in the Bazaar of Bad Dreams but most were forgettable. I keep thinking he’s got some great epics still to come.

    Reading his twitter though puts a sour taste into it. Oh well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve never read Misery, but I have read The Tommyknockers, and my biggest problem with that book was that the two main characters were so damn unlikeable! I was happy when bad things happened to them.

      I liked Bazaar of Bad Dreams, but the only story I remember was the one where the devil, disguised as an old peddler, helped a loser get revenge on his successful neighbor. I was disappointed that the loser guy faced no repercussions for selling his soul to Satan.

      Was Just After Sunset the one with the story called N.? I thought that one was pretty good.

      Like

  11. The devil story was in Full Dark No Stars, which for the most part was good but dark and heavy.

    N. I think was in Just After Sunset I think, I liked that story.

    I really didn’t like the Tommyknockers. Like Needful Things it just drags on and on and on. Oh yeah, very unlikeable characters too, I agree.

    Misery is a classic. Quite intense.

    cheers

    Liked by 1 person

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