Saturday, Adam did a post that included reference to Heidegger, which aroused a comment dismissing Heidegger because of his Nazi connection (which was later appended to be a joke, but still…). I always frown when people make that argument, the same way I frown when people discuss Woody Allen and then somebody goes “Yeah, but he married his daughter.” I always want to say, so what? What difference does it make to their work? If you want to talk about them as people that’s one thing, but their work is something else.
The flip side is the recent Polanski debacle in which I saw/read many folks making the argument that he shouldn’t be prosecuted because he made great movies. I find this equally frown-worthy. I love Rosemary’s Baby as much as the next cinephile, but dude forced a child to have anal sex – who cares if Chinatown is the greatest movie ever made, that shouldn’t impact his prison sentence.
Why can’t we separate the artist from the art? Does it matter to you if a writer is a “good person” or a “bad person”? Does it change what you choose to read, or how you read something? If so, why? In what ways? Would you be more or less likely to buy my book if you found out I ran a bi-monthly baby-eating party in my basement?*
*for the record, I don’t have a basement