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The Artist is not the Art

The Artist is not the Art

by agent x51 on

There are people that hate J.K. Rowling. I'm not going to get into the debate. She wrote Harry Potter, made a lot of money, and became famous. Famous people are scrutinized for every word and action. But Rowling is also not a civil rights activist nor a doctor. I don't take my gender advice from her much like I don't take my vaccine advice from Joe Rogan.

Joe Rogan is still pretty funny as a comedian. And J.K. Rowling is still a good author.

People can be wrong. When famous people are wrong, we have a tendency to condemn the art along with the artist and give other people who enjoy that art (or those artists) a bunch of shit.

If you like Harry Potter I'm fine with that. If you like J.K. Rowling, I'm fine with that too. I don't think that Rowling is intentionally being malicious. She has questions, which is the nuance of the gender issue that doesn't play well on social media or other echo chambers. It's like a high school female athlete who loses a track competition to a female transgender student that is pre-operation and barely on hormones. The latter has an advantage. The former has a complaint. Is the former a TERF? Transphobic? Or does she have a valid complaint based on the biological make-up of her competitor? Can any of that be discussed and debated online? On social media?

Since I'm neither of those female athletes, do I even have a say?

Nuance is lost on the Internet.

Transgender people will press that this is all resolved. They are the gender that they subscribe to and society needs to accept it absolutely. That's not really how culture and society works though, and there are plenty of people with questions that are seeking a dialog. They aren't against transgender people. They just don't understand.

When I was in college, I had a classmate whose daughter was transgender. The daugher was 12 years old at the time and had transitioned a few years earlier. Much of my classmate's college work revolved around transgender rights and gender psychology. She explained her story as her child consistently dressing in girl's clothes and playing with girl's toys. To me—at that time—acquiescing completely to a child on gender identity seemed foolish. I didn't quite understand the reasoning behind the decisions she made as a parent—decisions that cost her her marriage, her neighborhood, and her social life. She ultimately moved away and changed her name prior to meeting me.

At one point, while further contemplating this issue, I just stopped. I realized that whether I agreed or not didn't actually matter. I wasn't in that situation and regardless of what I thought, the best I could do was be supportive of my classmate and her family with whatever decisions she made.

I'm not saying that Rowling is seeking a dialog, but she does have questions. Does that mean that her and her art should be canceled and anyone that reads her books should be canceled by association?

I had a piss-poor interaction with Warren Ellis a decade or so back. He gave me a rash of shit and blocked me on social media. I was pretty pissed and Ellis is a right douchebag. And this was before all the accusations of grooming.

I stopped reading anything that Ellis wrote and completely wrote him and his work off.

Some time later I was speaking to a queer artist friend of mine and I mentioned the Warren Ellis drama. He actually discouraged me from following that path. He told me that I should keep the artist and the art separate and let the art stand on its own. Treat it as its own entity. Its own world. If I continued to tie artists and art together, I was going to be severely disappointed and would soon find my life devoid of art entirely.

This isn't to defend Rowling. You can condemn her all you want, and in the end, it might turn out that she is an asshole and ought to be canceled. But be careful condemning those people who enjoy her stories. The average reader has zero idea about any of Rowling's political or societal stances. Educated them. Let them make their own decisions.

End of line.