Thursday, February 14, 2013

Separating the Artist From The Art

In the last few days, there’s been quite a dust-up in the world of comic book fans regarding DC Comics hiring Orson Scott Card to write a new digital Superman comic. Full disclosure: I’ve heard of the Ender’s Game series but Orson Scott Card was completely unknown to me until yesterday.

Evan Dorkin, a hilarious writer best known for the comic book Milk and Cheese, went on a Twitter tirade about Card and his public anti-gay stance. From Card’s Wikipedia page:

Card has publicly declared his disapproval of homosexuality and of gay marriage. In 1990, Card called for laws that ban gay sex to "remain on the books... to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society's regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society". He no longer advocates this, however, and argues that the 1990 stance must be seen in the context of the times (such laws were still deemed constitutional at the time) and the conservative Mormon audience to whom his essay was addressed.[31] In 2009, Card became a member of the board of directors of the National Organization for Marriage, a group that seeks to prevent the legalization of same-sex marriage.[32]

Card has voiced his opinion that paraphilia and homosexuality are sometimes linked. In a 2004 essay entitled "Homosexual 'Marriage' and Civilization", Card wrote:

The dark secret of homosexual society—the one that dares not speak its name—is how many homosexuals first entered into that world through a disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse, and how many of them yearn to get out of the homosexual community and live normally.[33]

Additionally, in Card's novella Hamlet's Father, which re-imagines the backstory of Shakespeare's play Hamlet, some claim that Card directly links the king's pedophilia with homosexuality. The novella prompted public outcry and its publishers were inundated with complaints.[16] The trade journal Publisher's Weekly criticized Card's "flimsy novella" and stated that the main purpose of it was to attempt to link homosexuality to pedophilia.[34] Card responded to the claim:

...[T]here is no link whatsoever between homosexuality and pedophilia in this book. Hamlet's father, in the book, is a pedophile, period. I don't show him being even slightly attracted to adults of either sex. It is the reviewer, not me, who has asserted this link, which I would not and did not make.[17]

The thing I’m grappling with is the separation of art from the artist. Should we be judging a creator by their political or social opinions or should we be judging the work? It’s hard for me not to be a hypocrite while working out how I feel on this because I’ve come down on both sides depending on the situation.

When Chik-Fil-A’s anti gay stance become a foreground issue, I stopped eating there full stop. I’d been to Chik-Fil-A a couple of times and I’ll be honest, it was one of the best Chicken Sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. Since there was only one location in the Chicago area, it wasn’t a huge deal for me to stop eating there, since I rarely did before. I was glad to not give any more of my money directly to an anti-gay company.

When Papa John’s CEO said that Obamacare would cause them to have to raise pizza prices and cut back on hours (both things which turned out to be pretty much untrue) I said, “I’m never going there again.” and save for one night when the wife and I were drunk, starving, and Papa John’s was on our corner, I haven’t.

I can’t say if these are fair comparisons, since these are business that make contributions to organizations and clearly the person at the helm could be making contributions to organizations I don’t want to support. I just wanted to provide some examples of boycotts I’ve made so you know how liberal I am. It’s a qualifier so that I can say this.

I’m not sure that I feel a real correlation between a creators political or social stance and their creations. I stopped eating at these restaurants not because I felt that their politics affected their product, but because I didn’t want my money funneled into places I didn’t agree with. But does the same go for creative pursuits?

I think Ted Nugent is an ignorant gun nut blowhard. But god damn, “Stranglehold” is a great song. Meatloaf stood next to Mitt Romney and butchered America The Beautiful. But are you going to tell me that makes you like “Bat Out of Hell” any less? I’m more or less of the mind that as long as the message of the art doesn’t reflect these views, then why boycott it?
All that said, I’m not going to stop reading DC Comics. There’s really nothing in this world that can come between me and Batman. However, I did sign a petition that’s being sent to DC to not hire Card to do this run. Now, I don’t read digital comics, so it doesn’t really affect me one way or another. I don’t think DC is going to be sending a portion of their profits to anti-gay groups. I signed the petition because I want to say that I don’t like Card’s message. But, if I was a reader of digital comics and his run on Superman was good, I can’t say his anti-gay stance would keep me from enjoying it.

I’m just not sure.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The People That Are Going To Hell

I hate a lot of people. Hate’s a strong word and I probably shouldn't use it. Let’s see, how about this. I have a powerful disdain for a lot of people. I wasn't always this way. For the longest time I was Mr. Friendly. I liked everyone. I believe that living in the Big City has really crushed my tolerance for people, so much to the point that I've started keeping a list in my head. I call it “The People That Are Going To Hell”, which is in reference to the great Vandals song.

Here’s the people that are currently on the list.

1. People who play their music through speakers on public transportation. Double hell for people who have headphones in, but their music is clearly audible. Triple hell if they are listening to Dubstep.
2. Upstairs Neighbors of all kinds
3. Co-workers that don’t make a new pot of coffee when one is empty (I’m looking at you Carol!)
4. People who talk entirely too loud in public.
5. People who litter. This goes double for people that leave uneaten food on public transportation. Triple if that food is any sort of Indian food or hot wings.
6. The Chicago Transit Authority (with the exception of that one train conductor says friendly things like “Go get em” at every stop during morning rush hour).

This list is a living thing and people may get added at anytime. However, once you’re on it, you’re on it for good, so watch your step!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Where I’ve Been and Some Reflections On 30

Warning: this is super, duper long. It’s 4 months worth of stuff. What do you people want from me?!

Hey there blog. It’s been so long. You’re….looking well. 10,959 hits. Man, some things never change.

It’s been ever so long since I last talked to you folks. I think it’s primarily because I’ve convinced myself that everything I have to say is being more eloquently said somewhere else. I just need to keep reminding myself that my mom, my wife, and 2 friends are the only people reading and they’ll like me no matter what. Besides, who cares if it’s good. It’s a blog. I don’t even have advertising. Just write.

Let me update you on what’s been going on in my world since we last spoke.

I went on a solo mission to go home for Thanksgiving. The wife decided to stay behind because she needed a break from travel (we’d been on out of state trips 3 times in the 6 weeks prior to Thanksgiving and would be going on another 3 weeks later for Christmas). But I knew that this would likely be the last Thanksgiving I’d have with my Grandad and that was important. It was strange to know that my wife was somewhere else while I was celebrating Thanksgiving with the rest of my family, but we made it through unscathed. It was a short, hurried trip, but it was still a good time.

Then we get to December. Gramps starts to take a turn for the worse. December was the month where the most used phrase was “It could be any day.” We worked with trying to figure out Christmas plans. I’m someone who always is made feel better by knowing my plan. I was driving my wife insane because I would say things like “Oh, if he passes on this day, then this, but if he goes on this day, then this.” I had a plan for basically every scenario. But the tough old guy stuck it out through Christmas. It made Christmas very interesting.

Gramps had home care during the day and in the evenings my mom would go over there, just in case he needed anything. Knowing that my mom would have to stay with him on Christmas Eve, we had to make some decisions. Would we go to Christmas with my dad’s side of the family as we usually do? The wife took charge and said “No one should be alone on Christmas Eve.” And helped us to organize a great Christmas Eve at Grandad’s house for my folks, my brother, his girlfriend, and us. It really was fun. My in-laws made some excellent deserts for us, we ate Slows BBQ, we opened some presents, and we watched the Christmas Story.

The next morning we woke up and I assumed the role of Chef so that my mom could relax while I prepared our traditional Christmas breakfast. I made sausage, biscuits, gravy, eggs, and bacon. After the feast we exchanged gifts and then the wife and I headed to my in-laws to start it all over again. We exchanged gifts with them, went to Grandma’s for dinner and games, and just enjoyed the day. I broke away later in the evening to head to Denny’s to continue a 10 year tradition with my friends of getting together at Denny’s to hang out. It’s the one time of year that pretty much everyone is together. My throat is always raw on the 26th from laughing so much. Despite all of the circumstances, it was one of the best Christmases on record.

Oh, we got another gift. I’m getting a sister-in-law. On Christmas, between hanging with his lady’s family and coming to Denny’s, my brother popped the question. His fiancĂ© is super cool and we’re stoked to have her. Plus I get to be a Best Man again, which means giving a speech, which means getting a microphone and having everyone pay attention to me for 2 minutes, which is like heroin.

So anyway, we go back to relatively normal life. We spent New Years Eve in the fashion that we, as people who don’t really like bars that much and have few friends in Chicago, would by playing the new board games that I got for Christmas, eating cheese and crackers and sausage balls, having a couple of drinks, and then going to see Django Unchained. It was an excellent evening.

Time continued to roll by and then on January 9th, Grandad passed away. My whole family was able to be with him and I was told it was very peaceful and was exactly the way he would’ve wanted to do it. We made our travel plans and headed back to Michigan.

Circumstances being what they were, it was still nice to be able to be with my family and spend the downtime reminiscing and laughing. It was an excellent funeral and my folks, brother, and fiancé took him down to Arkansas

I can’t find a more elegant way to say it, but we saw Book of Mormon somewhere in between there, and that was amazing. If it comes to your neck of the woods, just go. I know it’s a lot of money, but you’ll be glad you did.

The final big thing that happened occurred on January 29th. I turned 30 years old.

I haven’t quite decided how I feel about it. The side of my brain that looks at the surface of things says that not much has changed. I’m still just a working stiff trying to be the best husband and person I can be and keep a smile on my face as often as I can. As I look deeper though, I’m starting to feel anxious. I’m starting to feel like I need to be putting a bigger mark on the world. I need to be making something. Contributing. I just don’t feel like I’ve done enough of that. Perhaps that’s why I’m trying to get back to blogging. Just to put my little stamp on society.

All that said, the wife and I are working on a big project and we’ll be ready to announce it soon. I’m hoping that will be a major catalyst for some changes in my life. I think it will be something that makes me a lot happier a lot more of the time. I can’t wait until I can talk more about it. You just get ready. It's not a baby.

If I had a nickel for every time I said this, I’d be flying above you in my own floating city, but I really, really am going to try to get back to regular posts here. Stay tuned