Separating Art And The Artist

If you’re a consumer of any media and someone who thinks even a little bit critically, then the task of separating the art and the artist is one you’ve probably you’ve encountered at least once.

For everyone it’s a different process, and I wanted to kind of explain how I personally do it, though even I go back and forth a lot and there is no one right or wrong way.

Its Complicated gif.

I guess to start, it depends on what Bad thing the artist did. Some things are unforgivable in a way and can’t be passed off as uneducated/jokes. Some things are also more offensive to certain people, which is valid. It’s up to you to decide where the line is for you, but you also need to understand that others may have different feelings. I think in general, society is pretty good at ‘cancelling’ the predators or at least not letting them off the hook so quickly. For me, the people who caused actual harm to another person knowingly is usually something I can’t forgive. However, there is a point where if it happened like two decades ago or something, sometimes I can see the growth or sometimes I can feel less bothered because it was so long ago. I’m not saying this is right, but in the case of, like, Rob Lowe’s sex tape with a minor, I wasn’t even born then, this scandal isn’t really something big and hanging over his acting still, so I feel like I can enjoy his work for the most part. Similarly, I can usually get past a rude Twitter joke (eg. James Gunn) or a genuine misunderstanding/unknowing (eg. Lady Antebellum‘s name) or somewhat unharmful problematic things (eg. Tom Cruise being a Scientologist but overall being a fairly unproblematic celebrity).

Another thing I consider when separating art and artist is their involvement and how personal it feels, and this is something that can vary for everyone. After Chris Brown beat up Rihanna, I had and still do have issues listening to his music (not that I was ever a huge fan). It’s his voice you hear, sometimes his brain behind the lyrics or beats, and it’s too personal, whereas in the case of JK Rowling and Harry Potter, I don’t think of her or her TERF views when I read the books. For things like books or movies where I don’t literally see the director/writer/producer, usually I’m able to get lost in it all and focus on everything else so I don’t really think about the creator at all even if it is their words or ideas. I still try and not watch movies by problematic people (eg. Woody Allen), but I find it easier to separate on that basis.

I wish I could but I don't want to, gif.

Furthermore, the size of one’s involvement is also something to consider, especially when it comes to financial support. I love the movie Tower Heist but Casey Affleck is a part of the cast, and he had sexual misconduct allegations that he apparently paid off quietly. He’s not a main character in the film, nevertheless it’s certainly something that slightly soured my enjoyment for it. But I’m not going to not watch the quality movie I like because he’s in it for a bit. Everyone else on the cast is, as far as I know, fine and worthy of my respect, so while he is in theory getting a slight bit of residual money from my view, I don’t think it’s the end of the world because a lot of good people are also getting it. It’s easier to financially cut off people like YouTubers who are directly in the spotlight of their content and making the most money by not giving them views/clicks.

It’s unfortunate that we as consumers feel like constantly we’re forced to give up/dislike things that perhaps once brought us joy, but we united hold so much power, and we really can control a lot with our opinions and actions, so ‘cancelling’ problematic people and things can really send a powerful message, though I don’t necessarily agree with complete mob-mentality and hate-spreading. If you can successfully separate art from the artist while still being informed and thoughtful, then I don’t see a reason why you can’t still like things. After all, we’re all human and no piece of media is completely unproblematic, but being able to think critically is important. That being said, there are plenty of comedians and TV shows and actors and whatnot out there, so if you never want to watch a Louis CK special or hear a Lea Michele song again, then that’s fine, and I’m sure you can find similar content from better people.

You have the power.

At the end of the day, as I’ve said before when writing about similar topics, it does come down to you and your own ethics. Though you are only human too, and I do think that in general there should be more room for forgiving and a chance for growth. A friend pointed out recently how some people, often the far left, love to see a fictional character grow into a better person, but they’re often the quickest in real life to end someone’s career with cancel culture over similar things, and I do think I’m guilty of this mindset myself.

In general, I don’t think we should just ignore the artist and their issues; social media, influence, and political positioning is too powerful to just set aside so we can watch a movie. We live in a world where the artists are put on such a pedestal and we can’t let that be abused. It’d be easier, sure, but that’s just not a reality. So we must do our best to separate what we can so we can live while still having a functioning conscious. This is how I go about it, but I’d love to hear how you do it.

 

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JK Rowling Ruining Her Own Magic

I’ve written before about the unfortunate awkwardness and confusion that we fans feel when celebrities/influencers are revealed to be more problematic than once thought. That was years ago, and since then, it’s not gotten easier, nor has the issue dimmed as more are more revered people are outed as Bad. But a lot of the time, even recently, the behaviour in question is from years ago, often a decade or more. So we have to be allowed to forgive and examine recent changes to determine if the person is worth our praise/money/time again. I’ve also written before about how that should be a solo decision and how cancel culture needs to reflect that.

JK Rowling, however, has taken a new approach to problematic behavior. Not only is she recently revealed to be a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist), but she revealed it herself. She alone has tarnished her own reputation and brought it to light herself.

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Of course, she’s been lowkey doing it for ages when it comes to Harry Potter. Every year or so she’d share some new tidbit about the Wizarding World and after a while, it got unnecessary. Dumbledore is gay? Okay, we can handle that. Nagini is actually an Asian woman? Um, that came out of nowhere, but alright. Hufflepuffs hold their own sex-ed classes in the dorms? ….What. At that point fans were old enough and could embrace what they want, think critically if they want, and accept that this author is fighting way too hard to stay relevant when she really did not need to because we all loved Harry Potter. We all were totally planning on raising our kids on that magic that we were raised on.

But then the transgender stuff came out. And it’s weird. (For those blissfully unaware, Rowling has for a few years now been thought to be transphobic/supportive of transphobic people, but she had never really confirmed it or acted on it until recently, June 10th to be specific, when she published a whole article about it and her thoughts on trans people and sexuality and women’s rights. The article was not cited and was filled with blatant transphobic beliefs despite the fact that she claimed to support trans people). I’ll be the first to admit that I am not the most educated on trans issues, but even I knew that the stuff she was spewing was dangerously wrong. How she could sit there and say she’s done the research and spoke to her trans friends and all that, and then still feel the need to write a whole manifesto like that is weird. It’s concerning.

That Aint Right And She Aint Right GIF.

And it’s ruining Harry Potter. People are pointing out issues within the books and people are rethinking their beliefs. I can’t imagine how trans Potter fans have been feeling. To know that the person you may have looked up to and who created a safe and exciting escape for you actually thinks you’re a problem and a danger and then is so confident about this that she’ll proudly speak it and close herself off to any criticism or discussion? It’s unfortunate.

I’ve read several blog posts from Potterheads explaining how they’re choosing to act going forward. In this post from Bizarre Brunette, she said she’s going to stop supporting Rowling financially by buying fan art instead of official merch and by not seeing the Fantastic Beasts movies in theaters. And another blogger, Strange Storyteller, said in this post that she has decided to stop engaging with any Harry Potter things fully, as she’s unable to separate the art from the artist.

Both takes are valid, and as I said in my post in cancel culture, it should be up to you personally to take the info and decide how you feel and how you’re going to act. Harry Potter has played such a huge part in so many of our lives, so it’s understandable that it’s hard, perhaps even unfathomable, to remove it fully from your life. Personally, I feel like the magic of Harry Potter transcended Rowling a long time ago for me. I’ve unfollowed her on social media and I’ll certainly think twice before I give money to something Potter-related, but I’m choosing to still enjoy quidditch and choosing to enjoy the books/DVDs I already own. This doesn’t make me a bad person, nor you, if you’re in a similar boat. I’m aware Rowling is problematic and I do not support her or her beliefs. To many, she’s now just another sucky creator we’ll largely dislike forever now.

You made it a mess gif.

I encourage you, whether you’re a fan of Harry Potter or not, to educate yourself on trans issues and where Rowling’s beliefs went wrong. Here are three things / really breaking it down / to get you started.

As always, I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. Have your feelings toward Harry Potter changed? Do you think people should separate art from the artist?

 

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Fantastic Beasts Review (Spoiler Free!)

Fantastic Beasts was really fantastic. Everyone’s going to say that but it’s true! I saw it last night. My Quidditch team got advance passes and since we got there super early we got to see it in IMAX (thanks Warner Bros!!!). I was so excited.

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I was also a bit nervous. I trust JK Rowling, but there was a split in the fandom when The Cursed Child came out (though I liked it) and I know people were apprehensive about a promise of five Beasts movies based off a book that didn’t even have a plot.

But it really delivered. Obviously I’m not going to spoil anything but a general plot is that Newt Scamander, a British wizard, accidentally loses control of a bunch of magical creatures in New York sometime in the 1920’s. I like the 20’s and the fun, classy vibe so I was happy with this.

The really cool thing is that it could have been a standalone movie. There were, of course, many fun references to Harry Potter and the magical world we know, but it really didn’t rely on it too much. And I liked that. It made it feel new and fresh. The new setting and the different kind of magic and terms removed the familiar Harry Potter aspect enough to rejuvenate the wonder. Harry Potter was largely about Harry and his life. Fantastic Beasts was about the magical world that we all want to know more about.

The movie was really fun overall. That also made it stand out from the other Potter films (especially the last few as they were really dark the whole time). Fantastic Beasts had so many jokes and fun moments and cool visual effects all the way through and it was really enjoyable. The beasts themselves were really neat! The niffler was adorable and Picket the bowtruckle is the new baby Groot (can someone please draw me a picture of baby Groot and Picket dancing or something???) but I think there should have been at least one dragon. The more dragons the better.

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I want one!

As for the cast, they were superb. Eddie Redmayne was amazing. He’s so likeable and adorable and that really carried over to Newt. The two girls in the movie were also great but Katherine Waterston (who played Tina) stood out. I really liked her and hope we see a lot more of her. As for the no-maj (or muggle) played by Dan Fogler, his role was very interesting. There wasn’t really a magic-less main character in the Potter movies, so I think us viewers really connected to Jacob. We want to be a part of the magic just like he was.

I also wanted to mention Ezra Miller. I don’t want to give away anything but I’ve really only seen him in The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, and his character in Fantastic Beasts, Credence, was very, very different from the hilarious Patrick. I enjoyed his performance a lot though (despite the horrible haircut he was plagued with). I can’t wait to see him as the Flash!

The plot was definitely interesting enough to make four more movies out of. I must say, I was a bit confused in the first half of the movie as to how the subplot with Credence tied to Newt’s story, but it was all revealed in the end and the set up for the future was captivating.

I always appreciate movies that cover all ranges of emotion and Fantastic Beasts really did. The rule of thumb for this movie: when Eddie Redmayne cries, I cry.

I also cried when it ended. I don’t know why. Well, I kind of do. I was just really feeling the magic, I think. Harry Potter has shaped so much of my life and I’m glad that this new series is reinstating a new feeling of awe and excitement and happiness that I didn’t really feel as a kid because I missed a lot of the movies in theaters. I don’t care that I’ll be thirty-something when the last Fantastic Beasts movie comes out. I’ll be packing up my future kid(s) and my future attractive husband and hitting up the nearest theater.

It doesn’t matter what you may have thought about The Cursed Child, go see Fantastic Beasts if you want to experience the magic that we all fell in love with. It’s so good. Too good. I loved it.

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Actual footage of me at the end of the movie

P.S. I was kind of sad my favourite fantastic beast from the book, the Chizpurfle, wasn’t in the movie. Next time, please!

P.P.S. Last week a few Quidditch players and I went to the red carpet for this movie and though only the girls signed my poster (because we were unfortunately behind a pole! #bitter), it was still really cool to be within meters of the stars!

 

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‘Harry Potter And The Cursed Child’ Book Review: Man, I’m Glad I’m Back

There are some spoilers here. I waited a few days to post this so more people could read the book first, but I couldn’t wait any longer!

Here I am, another Potterhead adding her humble Cursed Child review to the many that already exist on the interwebs. The people of Twitter have spoken and said they wouldn’t mind a post by me on the subject and I really welcomed the opportunity to write about Harry Potter, a subject that I haven’t really touched on much.

Harry_Potter_and_the_Cursed_Child_Special_Rehearsal_Edition_Book_CoverI love Harry Potter. I do. Those books made a mark on me, and every time I read them I’m inspired to write more myself. I never was the hardcore fan. No midnight premiers, no knowledge of every spell ever, no strong I-will-fight-you-over-Snape attitude. But I was in a Harry Potter club in high school, I do play Quidditch now in University, I have been to Universal Studios and I’ve of course seen Starkid’s Potter musicals. And as of July 3oth, I have attended a book release. My best friend and I attended the local mall’s release party, and though it wasn’t the greatest event, I got to nerd out and get my hands on a copy of a book I was psyched to read. Well, fairly psyched. Because The Cursed Child is the script of a play, spoilers were already online. I avoided them, but my friend didn’t and she carefully warned me that she read some disappointing things.

Either way, I spent four straight hours on July 31st tearing through the book and I am pleased to say: I really liked it. Because of my friend, I expected worse, but I was surprised at how great it was. Really.

First of all, I loved just going back to that world. I quoted Starkid in my title when I said, “man, I’m glad I’m back,” because I really was so thrilled to read more about these characters. I mean, I love the magical world, but I really adore the characters. I basically grew up with them! So to read this, something that is considered canon, was amazing. I only teared up a few times!

‘Goin’ Back To Hogwarts’ lyrics from A Very Potter Musical

I didn’t even mind that the story was in script form. I prefer regular novel format, but once I got into the story, I didn’t even notice. I’m also glad I read the script before I saw the play. Not that I have an opportunity to see the play, but if a bootleg comes along, I won’t pass it up! But because I read it, I was able to picture the cast my way in my head instead of having to adjust to a whole new cast.

As for the plot, I have to say, I enjoyed it. I have a love/hate relationship with time travel, and while I don’t think this story flawlessly executed it, it was very interesting. I think the Time Turner was a really underused magical item and the theme of time was really unexplored in the books, so to see this in the new story was really neat. I did think that having Cedric Diggory as the one to bring back was kind of dumb, but it made sense plot-wise. I also liked that the story featured the kids. I wish the other kids had a larger role too (and where was Teddy Lupin?) but it still worked well. Just to know they’re all still there and alive is great, really. And the old characters still had a great and large role, so I was satisfied.

So why were some people unhappy with it? One criticism that my friend said she read was that Harry was portrayed as a bad father. And I have to defend that. I mean, first of all, Harry never really had a father figure, so he can’t even emulate from that. This point was even blatantly addressed! Secondly, he wasn’t doing anything wrong, he just wasn’t doing anything really perfect. Like any parent of a teen, it’s hard. Albus was not only a somewhat angsty teen, but he’s also the middle child, and the son of a celebrity. There’s a lot going on and it just didn’t mix well with Harry’s parently style. Harry was seriously trying his best as a father. He really just wants his family safe and happy, like any other normal parent.

Another criticism that I kind of agreed with was that the famous last line “all was well” clearly was a lie. I guess that as a fan, I just want confirmation that my beloved characters are really okay, and to now find out that there was this big event again makes me feel like I was kind of lied to. I guess it could have been worse, no one important died or anything and there was a happy ending, but still. Is all well now? Will we ever know?

And lastly, people were upset that Voldemort had a child. And while I was kind of surprised, I wasn’t mad. Here’s why that made perfect sense: First of all, Bellatrix was pretty much all over Voldemort, so I can totally see her being open to bearing his child. And two, since this conception happened before the Battle Of Hogwarts, I can see it as Voldemort’s back up plan. He knew he was getting weaker from the destroyed horcruxes, so he probably at least considered failure as a possibility, so this child was probably seen as his very last chance to do his evil bidding.

But enough about criticisms, let’s talk more about what I liked. Before, I never really cared much for Draco Malfoy, but I really enjoyed his role in this story. The parallels between him and Harry were amazing, and how their interactions tied to and mirrored the interactions of Albus and Scorpius was really impressive and cool to read. I also liked how the relationships between Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermione developed. They weren’t really too developed in the books, especially due to the 19 year gap, so it was special to see those bonds grow, as well as the bond of the Golden Trio. It was 22 years later and somehow so much had changed as well as nothing at all. I dug that. Hard.

Under all the magic, the morals that Harry Potter has is really important. Love and friendship and life are all valued and respected and it’s great to know that those qualities that everyone loves about the story are still going strong. Stronger, even, I’d say, as Harry learned a big lesson in judgement and trusting gossip. It’s these timeless things that make this beautiful series perfect and adored by all ages and genders. Yes, we all want a letter to Hogwarts but even more I think we all want friendships as strong as Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s. I love reading blog posts by adults reading the series for the first time, especially if they grew up in places where the books were banned, because these people are learning that these books are just a crazy story about magic featuring morals that inspire.

All in all, I didn’t know what I was expecting but seriously, all Potter fans will love The Cursed Child. It’s got all the elements to love: humour, romance, magic, suspense, friendship, family, and all within a fairly airtight plot. The new characters were cool, the old characters were amazing, the plot was super and it has that same Harry Potter feel! I can’t imagine that anyone is on the fence about reading this, but if you are and liked any aspect of Harry Potter then you will like this! If I didn’t already have two other books to read, I’d probably be rereading it.

I’m so glad I got to go back to my childhood. I’m so glad this new story was great. I’m so glad that JK Rowling has blessed us with more Potter goodness.

 

What are your thoughts on The Cursed Child? I’m in dire need to discuss the book with people so comment with your opinions!

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