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February 2, 2015 Comments (3) Views: 5029 Comics, Featured, Industry

Homophobia: Can you separate the art from the artist?

This is a problem I’ve had since first leaving the closet behind, and I’m sure it’s something other gay nerds have dealt with. You’ve probably heard the phrase “separating the art from the artist” and that’s what I’d like to discuss with this article. As a gay male, I love pop culture and everyone involved in it, whether they be actors, writers, musicians, or whatever. However, I fear some of these industry folk may not have the same love for me, simply because I’m gay. Hell, I KNOW some of these industry folk don’t share the same love.

duck-dynasty-christmas-marathons

 

There are plenty of known homophobes, transphobes, etc. in the media. What’s worse, there are plenty of TALENTED bigots in the media. You may follow an actor or writer’s career for years before you find out they actually have super racist Tweets. Should you boycott their work? Or does the work surpass whatever terrible world views the artist may have?

Let’s start with Katt Williams as an example. This guy’s a powerhouse comedian. It’s easy to see why. He’s super charismatic and full of energy. He’s dances on stage! Just like Ellen!

Unfortunately, the guy’s also SUPER homophobic. Not just in his personal life, but in his act. For instance, he didn’t seem too keen on the idea of the NFL’s first openly gay football player, Michael Sam. To top it off, we have this. In case you can’t watch the video, he ends a set with the exact statement “We (straight people) are better than you (gay people).”

So this is an easy one to decide. Fuck Katt Williams. He has a problem with gay people and “tells it like it is” to an audience that feels the same way. Let’s move on.

Speaking of stand-up comics, let’s not forget Tracy Morgan’s famous “joke” where if he stated that if his son was gay, he’d stab him to death. This brings me to the point of the article. I really like Tracy Morgan. I do. His SNL bits were some of the best from that run, and his portrayal of, well, himself, was one of the highlights of 30 Rock. Hearing this in the news was super disappointing (not to mention how bad I felt for his kids). It really made me question whether or not I should even keep supporting the guy’s career. He did apologize for it, but is that enough?

I haven’t really followed Morgan’s career since the incident, so I suppose that speaks for itself. It’s also hard to go back and watch a Brian Fellows skit without feeling betrayed. That’s the weird thing about celebrity. You don’t know these people at all, but if it’s someone whose career you’ve followed for awhile, you’ll take it VERY personally if they come out against gay marriage or something. For another example of that, we have Adam Baldwin.

You might know him as the hard-ass from Firefly. Or the hard-ass from Chuck.

Adam_Baldwin_ChuckMr. Baldwin (and no, he’s not one of THOSE Baldwins) is super conservative.  And very vocal about it.    So much so that one time he compared gay marriage to incest.  Because those are the same thing.  What’s sad is, he has a strong following on Twitter that’s quick to gang up on anyone that might disagree with his stance on such matters.  For instance, he was the celebrity spokesperson for last years GamerGate “scandal” that targeted female game developers with all sorts of harassment.  Perhaps luckily, I found out just what kind of person Adam Baldwin was after Firefly and Chuck had ended, which are both fantastic shows.  However, it’s hard to recommend them now because I’m sure he gets residuals, which he might take and donate to an anti-gay organization.  It’s doubly hard because shows like Firefly are created by super gay-friendly folk like Joss Whedon.

I feel like the good outweighs the bad here. Especially since Baldwin was never the main character on either show. Hell, his role in Chuck could have been a conservative douche, and it would have fit the character. It doesn’t excuse his behavior off-set, so I haven’t kept up with Baldwin’s career after Chuck ended.

However, what if Joss Whedon was the bigoted one in the previous example? You’d probably have an Orson Scott Card situation.

Who wouldn’t love this face?

ut_endersgame_f1You may know him as the writer or a sci-fi novel/Harrison Ford movie you probably heard of called Ender’s Game.  Ender’s Game is pretty fantastic, however, Card’s views are not so much.  He’s very anti-gay, and was even a board member on the National Organization for Marriage (you can probably guess their stance on Prop 8).  In fact, when the Ender’s Game film came out, there was an outcry for a boycott that the studio was forced to address.  The same thing happened with Shadow Complex, an Xbox 360 game that was based on a story by Card.  The guy can weave fantastic futuristic worlds for people to enjoy, but his views are insanely puritan.

Card’s views make it hard to support his work, but I haven’t beaten myself up over it. I did enjoy the Ender’s Game flick, mainly because the creator’s views don’t really enter into his work. Card might be a bigoted asshole, but the character of Ender is not.

What if you’re not sure of the creator’s views at all? I really enjoy all of Mark Millar’s work, especially Kick-Ass. However, Kick-Ass itself has some pretty homophobic moments. For instance:

kickassOk, teenagers are kinda shitty and say stuff they don’t really mean (If you’ve ever played a game over Xbox Live you’re more than aware of this). I MIGHT be able to overlook this, but then we have this scene:

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Yeah, that’s our word.  You don’t get to use it.  Even through a character you’re writing.  Sorry, but that’s just how it is.  I know Millar is a Catholic, but he’s never issued any anti-gay tirades or anything (in fact, he was the writer behind Midnighter and Apollo getting married in The Authority).  I still enjoyed Kick-Ass, in spite of the f-bombs, but I can’t help if this is the REAL Millar coming out.  The Kick-Ass books read VERY conservatively, and it makes me wonder if Millar only did the Authority stuff because that was just his job at the time.  With his creator owned Millarworld books, he’s free to let loose with his own opinions, even if they come out of the mouths of his creations.

What it really boils down to is intent.  I think if your heart’s in the right place, I can overlook a slur or whatever.  For instance, when the recent issue of Batgirl came under fire for being transphobic, the creator’s issued an apology. However, their apology didn’t simply feel like a form letter to get the heat off.  They realized they made a mistake and owned up to it.  Unfortunately, most of the examples here are “out and proud” homophobes, who probably eat at Chic-Fil-A, so you can probably guess where your money’s going when you support their work.

Everyone should enjoy what they want and try not to worry about the politics of it so much. It’s entertainment, not congress. That being said, if you feel conflicted about an actor, or a writer’s work, do something about it. If you feel like your money spent might be going toward a homophobic cause, offset that balance by donating to a great cause like The Trevor Project.  Your conscience will thank you.

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3 Responses to Homophobia: Can you separate the art from the artist?

  1. michael sherrell says:

    A good strong argument can be made using the examples of FireFly and Chuck – did you enjoy the show? If you enjoyed the show, the actor/writer/producer of the show did their jobs. In the days before Internet-driven-media, what one learned of the stars/writers/producers was in the general media or the gossip rags of the day. Most of the actors/writers/producers learned a very a simple lesson – it is very easy to keep your mouth shut, your appearances few and your foot out of your mouth. Plus there were often publicists and other media handlers to help with public events.
    These days we want authenicity, the idea that the actors are “being real” with us, the public.

    Often times the public would not know or care that a particular actor had views on a certain topic or topics. Some media folks did publicize their views on issues but many did not. Enjoying or not-enjoying the work produced by these folks did not require us the public to agree with or not with the political views of the actors/writers/producers. At the same token, the actors/writers/producers usually did not try to limit their work only to the folks who agree with their views. In most cases none of us are ever “forced” to watch a movie, play or telecast.

    Adam Baldwin is an actor that I’ve seen in several science fiction related films and television shows. I’m going to use him as an example in this topic, but his situation applies to plenty of actors, writers and producers.

    Freedom of speech, among other things means that I do not have to agree with your views or any of your opinions, but to simply just agree that everyone has the right to their opinions. Plenty of people will have different opinions on plenty of things, such is life. I believe that your rights to your opinions changes when your ACTIONS start to affect my rights and my ACTIONS. Adam Baldwin being a conservative individual and expressing his thoughts does not affect me, I’m pretty sure that my thoughts will not affect Adam Baldwin in the slightest. His actions however can affect me – by large campaign contributions, speeches and rallies to change laws and policies. Those kinds of ACTIONS could easily affect me and others like me. If Adam Baldwin were to run for public office where he could then put his thoughts and ideas into practice, change laws and influence policies, then I’d have to evaluate what ever support I’d give him, or withdraw from him. His ACTIONS not merely his speech would guide my actions, both positive or negative.

    Does this mean that due to his opinions that I’d throw away my DVD collection of Firefly? NO! I enjoyed the show, the movie, and the Chuck series. Adam Baldwin did his job of creating an on-screen character, an activity that he was paid to do. Plenty of people properly do their jobs where we care not a whit what they think or their opinion on something. Can the artist be separated from their art? Yes, we do it all of the time.

  2. Lelan Mangrum says:

    Very well said! However, Adam Baldwin himself is a man of action, if
    you’re familiar with last year’s Gamergate scandal. Like I mentioned
    in the article, he wasn’t just the spokesperson for the campaign, but
    would actually slander female developers, adding fuel to the fire. And
    like you stated about campaign contributions, money speaks volumes. One
    thing you don’t see too many public figures advertise (outside of
    Chic-fil-A) is where they donate money too. It wouldn’t be too
    surprising to find out Baldwin helps fund movements like Gamergate.

    That being said, I don’t think boycotting anything is the answer, as other
    people involved in his works could very well donate to things like
    various human rights campaigns. I’m personally more concerned with
    people like Mark Millar, who seem to “sneak in” their views into the
    works themselves. I enjoy (and purchase) the works of Baldwin and
    Millar both, but there is always that nagging voice in the back of my
    head that knows how they feel about my “lifestyle.” It CAN sully the
    work, but if you worry about every single business entity with shitty
    world-views, you probably wouldn’t get much enjoyment out of anything,
    would you? I try not to worry about it too much, and just double down
    with support on creators/actors/etc. who make the effort to be
    inclusive.

    And don’t throw your Firefly DVD’s away…unless you’re making the leap to Blu-ray, of course.

  3. GNparanoia says:

    Very well said! I agree with all of your key points.

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