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.
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.
Mr. 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?
You 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:
Ok, 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:
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.