Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Ace Asks: Do the Failings of A Man Reduce the Power of His Artistic Work?

My short answer? Yes and no. Read his whole post. It is very thoughtful and brings up great points.

This topic was actually covered hilariously in a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode where Larry waxes elephant about a great opera by Wagner that tells the love story of Wagner for his wife. Well, his wife Cheryl is enthralled and he hires an orchestra to play the piece on her birthday or their anniversary or something. A Jewish guy overhears Larry talking about this and rants that Wagner hated Jews and no Jew worth his Jewness would listen to anything by Wagner. The end scene shows the orchestra playing Wagner on the offended Jew's lawn.

Here are some similar questions to ponder:

  • Should someone listen to health advice from a fat person?
  • Should someone listen to cardiac advice from a fat, smoker? The cardiac surgeon up the street is very good at what he does but he's fat and he smokes.
  • Should someone listen to marriage advice from a Catholic Priest?
  • Is it wrong to listen to someone's music whose belief system is abhorrent?
  • Is it wrong to read books with wisdom where the person is an idiot?
The Bible actually has some advice here:

Eating meat sacrificed to idols was okay, but if it offended you, don't eat it. The idols or religion didn't change the nature of the meat. It was just meat. But if the way the meat came to be sold--by being an offering to some god--bothered a Christian, he wasn't to do it. To him eating the meat would be a sin.

To some people, watching anything by Mel Gibson from now on will be a sin--he's an anti-semite. They shouldn't watch it. To some, they believe that by giving him money, they support his belief system. Maybe. But will not buying or watching the movie change his views? Doubtful.

We make these trade-offs all the time conscious or not. We buy stuff made in China where they still hang political enemies. We put oil in our vehicles from wells in Iran even though those places work against our interests.

I'll admit, listening to Michael Jackson music is a lot less fun now that I know his prediliction for little boys. But I'm weak. I still have one song of his on my iPod. Does that make me wrong?

1 comment:

Chalmers said...


I am surprised you did not mention the Dixie Chicks in this post. I may have mentioned that we bought that CD and have found it to be very good. Of course, we are liberals, but the non-political (the majority of the album) songs were good too.

To me, in most cases (I am looking for a used copy of The Pianist on DVD because I will not give my money to Polanski) I make my judgements on the art, not the artist. There are exceptions, but in those cases I just vote with my dinero. Protests and boycotts usually just give free publicity.