ForumTouchy Subjects ► Supporting Bigoted Creators
Now that the Harry Potter Netflix might be a thing, it's a good time to consider these questions. How much can an author be separated from their work? Do we have a moral obligation to not consume content from creators that use their fame to hurt people?

On one side of things, you've got someone like HP Lovecraft, who was a huuuuuuge bigot, and it definitely colors some of his works, but as he is dead and his works are in the public domain you're not really affecting anyone (besides yourself) by reading his stories.
Then on the other side of things, you've got someone like JK Rowling, whose works (while maybe having some worrying undertones) aren't outright harmful, but has been a pretty outspoken TERF on social media and has funded and been quoted by anti-trans movements.

How can we go about separating an author from their work? Should we even try, when consuming their work might help benefit a harmful movement?

EDIT: and if you want to go have an argument about why transgender people should all go die in a hole or something, may I redirect you to this thread. This thread here is about specifically problematic content creators and consuming their works.
  
Generally speaking, I think it's best to work to deplatform actively bigoted creators when possible. When people use their fame and large follower base to promote bigotry, it has far-reaching consequences. Further, deplatforming has consistently been shown to be one of the most effective methods of combatting bigotry, which is true for a variety of reasons: everything from the Bradolini Principle to the algorithm tending to promote outrage to general human psychology/sociology. While I know it's unlikely to happen, I would love for social media websites to take steps to limit the reach of bigoted content. At a minimum, I would love if it was treated neutrally rather than being pushed by the algorithm - outrage gets engagement, and it tends to float to the top. That's not a good thing. I also think that platforms which curate their content, such as review blogs, magazines, podcasts, etc, have a responsibility to avoid intentionally platforming bigots.

Personally, I do not find it all that useful on an individual level to separate the artist from their work. I think it's fine if people can, though I do encourage them to draw a line at financial support or providing exposure through reviews or social media for a work. I feel like a lot of people find it laudable to be able to separate the artist from their work, but I myself think it's neutral. There is so much art out there that it's not hard to just seek out works from non-bigoted creators - my "to be read" (TBR) list of books is so long, I'm actually sort of happy when I can remove things from it! Consuming content is a neutral personal choice, but public or financial support of content becomes more political.

In the case of authors who are already dead, I think that there are a few different approaches: academic appreciation, personal enjoyment, and glorification. The first two are okay - good even! The last is where I think it's best to draw the line. In the case of Lovecraft, that's an author who was horrifically racist even within the context of the period in which he was alive. He was much more extreme than that average person of that era. You can't handwave him away as being a product of his time, since he was extraordinarily racist even for his time. Yes, he had a huge impact on the genre, but this is a case where I think it's more helpful to look at that in an academic sense as opposed to indulging in glorification. It's good to remove his name and image from awards, as that falls into glorification. But it's also fine to read and enjoy his work! It's also find and good to acknowledge his contributions to the horror genre, cosmic and otherwise.

That said, there is also the matter of platforming and publicity even here, with old dead authors. I think it's a good thing to focus on modern contributions to the cosmic horror genre which are explicitly anti-racist and are doing more interesting things today, rather than getting bogged down and focusing on Lovecraft, if you yourself are a person with a reasonably large public platform. It becomes a matter of publicity, which becomes somewhat more political than personal, private enjoyment. It's choosing to use your platform to promote an old, racist author over new voices. Now, I don't think it's BAD to talk about how much you love Lovecraft - but I think it's neutral at best when looking at the state of genre in a larger sense, and tends to be more harmful in aggregate than on an individual level. I think it does active GOOD to promote newer voices who are taking the genre to new places and exploring new perspectives and ideas with their art.

I've got more thoughts on this, but wanted to get a few out here to at least kickstart the conversation. It's a really interesting topic.


EDIT: ALSO just to make things more complicated, especially in the case of JK Rowling, deplatforming becomes way more complicated from a publishing house perspective. While I advocate for deplatforming, I can honestly say that I don't know if it would be the morally right thing for her publisher to do to drop the series, for example. Because, frankly, the franchise is a cash cow of truly astronomical proportions... And probably makes up a very large percentage of Bloomsbury's income. And that income is what allows them to publish and provide a platform for OTHER authors. If dropping Rowling means that they go under and we lose the support for the good voices they're working to raise up, is that a net loss? It's complicated! And I don't have all the answers. So I usually focus on deplatforming author specific actions rather than publisher actions, per se, since I think that's a bit more straightforward - albeit still sometimes murky.
  
Coldfrost said:
How can we go about separating an author from their work?
My standard is pretty simple: if the work itself is not objectionable, it's okay to consume it.

If one finds it morally objectionable to financially support a person who holds objectionable beliefs, then the only ethical course of action is go live in the wilderness.
  
Pretty good point, Jon.
  
how come it says admin in the forum, but moderator on your profile description?
  
Two words for the same thing
  
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