You love the work; you hate the person who made it. How do you navigate that?
We’ve all had the experience of discovering that one of our favorite artists is, by our own standards, a really lousy person. That singer you love turns out to be a hateful, violent jerk, or the writer you grew up on is revealed to be a baldfaced racist, or your favorite director starts shilling for a cult that opposes every value you stand for. Sometimes, especially with older works, we can console ourselves that times were different, and hey, probably a lot of people back then proposed segregated sidewalks, right? Too often, though, the fig leaves of our justifications fail, and we’re left with the awkward fact that we love the work of someone who, if we met them, we’d probably want to punch.
Even stranger, sometimes we have the opposite experience. I myself recently came across the social media of a writer whose work I abhor, and which I have very frequently cited as a near-perfect catalog of What Not To Do. Turns out he’s a really nice guy, warm to his fans, kind and supportive to his fellow professionals, and a passionate and sincere advocate of values and causes I myself believe in. Dammit. Now I can’t mentally categorize him as “that asshole who writes that crap” any more! Now he’s “that fundamentally decent and giving person who writes that crap”, which is way less fun a category. And make no mistake, his writing is still indefensibly awful; this genuinely nice man puts in a full day producing complete crap.
How do you bridge these gaps? Which works or artists cause you the most dissonance? Have you ever flat-out given up on work you enjoyed, because you couldn’t stomach supporting the person who made it? Have you ever judged someone else for doing that, because you thought their reasons were wrong?