So you woke up today and found out a thing you liked was sort of racist or crafted by an avowed (and super open) racist.
You read the hot takes and the analysis. You see Twitter asplode with hashtags against a thing you love written/directed/drawn/sculpted/etched by a person you idolize. There’s proof! There’s witness accounts! There’s a picture of said creator in blackface.
The choose-your-own-adventure begins right there. Do you:
a) Admit this is pretty fucked up while acknowledging that you did love the thing/person but in light of these events, you can look at this all critically and move on with your life.
b) Go into a pants-shitting frenzy of Facebook, Twitter, and message board posts where you decide to double down and out yourself as a, well, racist (sorry, if you’re a booster of an asshole, you’re an asshole too) and curl up into a ball with your Little House on The Prairie while ignoring people have probably written better books in the last 80 fucking years.
I get it. A lot of people go with option B and its more often than not a knee-jerk reaction. Media is an escape and for some people it becomes serious to the point where they grow an immense emotional attachment. For fuck’s sake, look at Star Wars and the rabid insanity that comes from having a single black actor have 20% of the spoken dialogue.
Anyway, the problem (other than the obvious racism) I see is that attachment becoming a little too “sticky”. Escapism is important; it’s vital for our mental health but if it veers into obsession and officially becomes a source of stress, is it actually an escape anymore? If you devote more time to an intellectual property you have no financial stake in than you do your job or your family, are you in the right frame of mind to look at the work critically? I can admit to enjoying troubling work but I won’t hang my hat on those movies or books. Why is it so difficult for others to do the same?
I often wonder if people who wig the fuck out about this are compensating over the fear that liking the work of a racist somehow makes them racist; even when the content itself is fairly clean of allegory or ugliness. I can’t make the call but I think if you find yourself struggling over something like that, it may be time to take a break and breathe for a while. Examine why you’re mad. Do you feel betrayed? Do you feel guilty? Are you upset the person was outed?
If its the latter, you should probably do some real fucking reflecting because you’re probably a piece of shit.
I think its fair to strip power from people who spread ignorance and hate. You can toss a million excuses out there but none of it holds water. Hate is hate and we’re still far away from wiping out problematic media from our cultural palate (and we won’t, what seems OK now may shift over the course of decades and guess what: THAT’S OK). As we grow more accepting of others and our differences, we need to examine our past and call out the problems. Pretending they weren’t there will only allow the wound to fester and become infected.
And that’s how you get the screaming and the whining and the resistance to simple change.
None of our golden calves should be such. Enjoy what’s out there but don’t accept it at face value. Identify the problems and the good bits; share new ideas and stories from those of us who couldn’t express ourselves properly even twenty years ago. Grow as a reader/viewer/consumer.