New this week on Popshifter: Paul has some surprising but apt suggestions in his two-part series on Horror Movies For Kids; Melissa loves bands with tuba players and as a result, raves about That’s It! from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band; Jeff will crack you up with his review of the probably unnecessary Thank You from Duran Duran; Chelsea enjoyed the “irresistible prose” and vast wealth of stories in Curtis Harrington’s memoir Nice Guys Don’t Work In Hollywood; I strongly recommend Desperation, the latest album from the Oblivians and share my thoughts (and a couple of photos) from last week’s IO Echo/CSS show at The Mod Club.
I’ve got some trailers and other things to show you, but there’s something I need to get off my chest first. There’s been lot of discussion about boycotting and separating the art from the artist vis-à-vis the upcoming film adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. For the sake of brevity, and to get to what I want to say about it more quickly, I’ll assume you know that the controversy revolves around Card’s history of not just intolerance of homosexuality, and not just bigoted remarks, but also actively supporting organizations like The National Organization For Marriage.
There’s an excellent article by Chuck Wendig on Terrible Minds about the controversy and it’s got me thinking a lot of the idea of separating the art from the artist and what a boycott actually means in a practical sense.
If someone’s politics or comments about particular issues are odious to you, but you like their artistic and creative endeavors, you’re faced with a quandary. How can you continue to enjoy their endeavors despite knowing that the creator might be, at best, a jerk, and at worst, an asshole?
Here’s where things get dicey for people who tend towards knee-jerk reactions. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, but if it is, that’s still a perfectly reasonable response. If you want to continue to enjoy the work, you can. If you don’t, then don’t. As someone who has never read any of Card’s work and had no interest in seeing Ender’s Game because of that, the news of his homophobia was upsetting, but not on a personal level.
This is another point that seems to get muddied in all the discourse. Is what the offender says and does threatening you on an imminent, personal level? For someone like Charlie Sheen, no. I’m not in danger from him accidentally shooting me or holding a knife to my throat. Since I wasn’t a big fan of Charlie Sheen before all his bad behavior came to a head, it wasn’t a tough call for me to just avoid him altogether.
With Woody Allen, I did like a few of his movies. Yet I don’t think I could ever watch another one without feeling disgusted. As much as I have enjoyed Roman Polanski’s filmography, his behavior has been troubling enough that I no longer feel comfortable watching his movies. Yet the bad behavior of Woody Allen and Roman Polanski will likely not ever impact me physically.
With Card, however, it’s different. By actively supporting the oppression and of homosexuals financially and legislatively, that could very well pose an imminent threat to the well-being of someone in a same sex relationship who seeks civil rights equality. That person isn’t me, but I am concerned about these issues regardless.
Then there’s Christian Bale. Admittedly, I was a massive fan of his long before the Terminator: Salvation incident. And while I agree that his behavior was unprofessional and awful, unlike Sheen, Allen, and Polanski, he actually apologized, something we rarely (if ever) get from celebrities and other public figures.
My point is not to explain my level of tolerance for bad behavior on a case-by-case basis, but rather to illustrate that everyone has his or her own comfort level in terms of what is excusable. When someone like Chuck Wendig takes the time to explain specifically why he no longer wants to support Card—someone he had previously admired greatly as an author—the appropriate response is not, as several people have done in the comments to his blog post, to attempt to sway him from his decision with a lot of sentences that start with the word “but.” Some of these folks seem more offended by Wendig’s carefully reasoned decision than Card’s actual words and deeds. This is out of proportion to the problem at hand and actually distracts from it.
No one gives a shit if you disagree with Wendig. No one, for that matter, gives a shit if you disagree with me regarding Charlie Sheen, Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, or Christian Bale. We haven’t asked that you approve our opinions. So shut the fuck up and don’t tell people why they shouldn’t boycott something or someone. Understand that your reasons for not boycotting do not trump another person’s reasons for boycotting. And vice versa.
On the other hand, I’ve noticed an unpleasant trend of folks having knee-jerk reactions to things that are supposed to be problematic but with which these same folks have not actually engaged. It’s fine if you are so repulsed after reading American Psycho that you can’t bear to hear Bret Easton Ellis’s name mentioned in polite conversation. It’s not fine if all of your outrage is based on what you’ve heard about Ellis and not on actually reading American Psycho. I realize that this might seem to contradict my previous comments, yet it’s not all or nothing in this case.
It is acceptable to enjoy problematic works (such as American Psycho or more recently, The Lone Ranger) while still acknowledging that they are problematic. You may choose the opposite response, too. However, you will never empirically know that these works are problematic unless you actually read the books or see the films in question. Will I watch Ender’s Game when it is released in theaters? Probably not, but that’s because I never intended to do so. Am I troubled by the Native American minstrel show in The Lone Ranger? Definitely, but I would watch this film first before I declare it to be an abomination of racist tropes.
The choice to separate or not separate art and artist, to boycott or not boycott is a personal decision that should be reached after careful consideration of the pros and cons. It is not something that should be condemned without careful consideration of another person’s reasons for supporting or not supporting a particular creative endeavor.
Chelsea has written a lovely article on Paul Williams and The Phantom of the Paradise for The Brattle Blog that you should definitely read
Chelsea has also pointed out a great article on The Heat and feminist solidarity which is the exact kind of level-headed analysis that I was discussing with regard to Orson Scott Card.
The full Fantasia Festival lineup has been released and Twitch has all the details.
Twitch also has a review and a trailer for Swiss horror film Chimères. The review isn’t very spoilery, and the trailer is good. I’ve been wanting to see this for a while, so I take this positive review as a positive sign.
It seems like forever since I’ve seen Christian Bale in a trailer. Here’s one for Out Of The Furnace which comes across like a mix between Winter’s Bone and All The Right Moves. However, it’s Bale which means I’ll definitely watch it. (Also: his accent seems dead on as usual.) (H/T to Film School Rejects.)
Big Black Delta has a video for the abrasive “X22” from their debut album. It’s NSFW and quite reminiscent of Bedevilled (which I just watched a couple of weeks ago).
—Less Lee Moore, Managing Editor