Hate the Artist, Love the Art?

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18 Comments
Today I'm going to ramble a bit about something I've been pondering of late. As is made clear by many of my blogging subjects, I love buying from and supporting independent businesses. I prefer putting my money towards something that was created with love and skill by an individual rather than handing it over to some massive conglomeration. But with this arrangement comes other complications. Buying from a large business tends to involve a modicum of anonymity, whereas with the indie seller, there is no middle man, fewer nameless faces or faceless names.

 Most of the time, the business relationship is still purely a professional one, and the only face you see is the one the seller chooses to project. But what happens when you come to realize that the person you buy from carries an ideological view in stark contrast with your own? It is not such an easy question for me to answer. What if you enjoy their product and their business model, all the terms of the professional exchange are adequately met, yet there is this nagging knowledge that the seller's beliefs fly in the face of all you support or there is something about them that you just don't like?

On one hand you can logically support the seller's right to believe whatever they wish, and understand that everyone is unique, complex, and fallible. But then, do you still choose to offer that individual your hard earned money? It is far easier and more comfortable to imagine the art being created in a vacuum, so you don't have to take into account the creator's flawed humanity or have your own called into question. But it is not always that easy. Emotionally speaking, is the art that you loved now tainted or made less pleasing since you know more about the artist, so to speak, than you really wanted to know? It's not that one should expect all artists to be "good " however one may define the term, that would be totally unreasonable. It's simply that usually when you experience said art, unless you've really done your research or they've made their views publicly known, you're never any wiser to the fact that they may not be. In this case, ignorance is bliss.

This conundrum can apply to pretty much any work of art, be it film, music, written work, etc. I do think there is a difference between being able to a appreciate an established work of art from an artist that is deceased or otherwise further removed from the work as opposed to a situation in which the artist is currently, directly reaping financial gains based in part on your support. Is it possible to enjoy that seller's product on its own merit without it being considered a blanket acceptance or condoning of what that person stands for? So while buying indie is truly gratifying because it supports individuals and you know exactly where your money is going, it is also treacherous because those individuals are not exact mirrors of ourselves, and this realization can be disillusioning.

 
This is usually not a problem because, so they say, variety is the spice of life, and most sellers project a purely professional face and you never really know that much about them personally. But what if you discover that this particular variety is truly offensive to your sensibilities? In a purely hypothetical scenario, imagine you are a vegan, devoted animal lover who stumbles across the fact that a seller you have enjoyed buying from often hunts recreationally. Would this be a non-issue as long as the business transactions go smoothly and the product meets your standards? Or if that scenario doesn't work for you, just imagine any of your most deeply held beliefs, and then finding out that the seller believes adamantly and vehemently the opposite. Do you still want to hand them your money? Do you still feel as good about supporting them? Is it an unfair double standard to even pose such questions when one may not question the true beliefs/actions/motives, etc. of individual members of a larger company or a company as a whole in the same manner?

I'm curious if you have ever been faced with such a dilemma, or if it has even crossed your mind before. Would you find it relatively simple to separate the art from the artist, and continue to enjoy buying from that seller? Or would you cut your losses and move on?

*For the record, this is not about any seller that I have reviewed on my blog, and while I have encountered such disenchantment with a few unnamed sellers, my query is mostly hypothetical.


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18 comments :

  1. I'm glad you mentioned this. Yes, I have come across this situation when buying from indie companies before. In my opinion, I think it is more professional and benificial for the owner for them to have specific social networks for their company, and separate, personal social networking sites for their friends/family. Of course, everyone has an opinion and a way of life, and there are always two sides to everything. But if I were an independent business owner, I'd be very careful to not share my personal life, political, or religious beliefs for fear of unintentionally offending someone. I try to not take things personally or let stuff get to me, but I'm really quite a sensitive person; so when a business owner "overshares," it's not something I will forget. At the same time, I wouldn't hold it against them. This is such a hard dilemma!

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    1. Thanks for sharing your POV! I am really a very progressive person, and if someone shares their view in a rational, open-minded sort of way, I will certainly take it into consideration and not automatically dismiss them. There have been sellers that have shared views that are unlike my own, but they expressed their points quite eloquently, with appreciation and respect for other views, so I was not turned off at all.

      In one instance however, I was really shocked and disappointed to find a ton of very inflammatory and offensive posts on one seller's personal facebook page. However, this personal page also connected them to their business, and the posts were all public and readily accessible. Given their shop's persona, style, etc., I never would have expected them to be like that, and though it may not be the most reasonable or rational response, it's a little harder for me to like their product as a result or enjoy it without thinking about what I've read, and it really saddens me and makes me question a lot. How much do we need to know about those who make the things we love, how much can we really expect from our fellow humans, and how much does it really matter? Those are the questions I'm still trying to answer.

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    2. Of course, my dear! I also have a respect for those that can share their views in a respectful and eloquent manner without making fun of others or name-calling. Too often, it seems, there are people that are just downright nasty toward others that don't support their beliefs. I have seen such behavior on both sides of political, religious, and personal views. I really admire people that can voice their standpoint in a calm and respectful manner, and you're right- it's a lot easier to listen and consider one's view when it's expressed in such a way.

      I'm sorry that happened with all that craziness on the shop's Facebook. It really shocks me sometimes with how mean and crazy people can get over beauty stuff. I started my blog because I wanted to talk about the products I enjoy with others that shared my passions. I have enough stress in my daily life, I'd rather not see personal standpoints via stressful posts and comments about and on the pages of companies I enjoy, you know?

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    3. The tricky thing about it is that the posts were not on the seller's actual business page, but rather public, socio-politically charged posts on the sellers's personal page. There were links however, to the business page, which felt unprofessional to me given the views expressed on the personal page. If anyone is like me and is curious about those they buy from and look around at all to learn more, there is a real possibility of alienating some customers when they see such posts. I have no complaints at all about the seller's products or their customer service and the comments they made had nothing to do with their business, but still, knowing what I know now makes me feel, well, a little icky :(

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  2. That´s a difficult question. I have quite few firm beliefs, and I think of myself as very open minded with a live and let live attitude normally. The one situation I can think of where I would hesitate to support a company would be if the owner had racist, anti HBTQ or other discriminatory views. For this reason (HBTQ) I sometimes also hesitate when it comes to buying from people who I know have very conservative christian views...

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    1. I would also say that views like that are deal-breakers for me. What I encountered was not quite that blatant, but definitely in the socio-political realm, and based on comments that others were making supporting the seller's comments, there might be an undercurrent of those aforementioned deal-breakers. There was just a very distasteful, venomous atmosphere of hate, to put it lightly, and while there are lots of things I can tolerate or look past, that is not one of them, no matter how lovely the product.

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    2. Reading all the comments here is really interesting! This was a really good discussion to have! (But you all make me really curious as to who has said what... That kind of drama is just very interesting to me!)

      Btw, I tagged you for an Inspiring Blogger Award today, check it out here: http://ladomna.blogspot.se/2013/01/inspiring-blogger-award-2.html

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    3. LOL...I try so hard to not stir up drama, it really isn't where I want to go with this. I was actually quite nervous posting about it all as it is sort of a controversial topic. I'm an opinionated person, but I do try to be considerate and not alienate anyone. But it was really nagging me and I needed to get it off my chest, and I do feel much better and appreciate everyone contributing their ideas!

      I won't name names because I don't want to color your view of the seller if you happen know them and like them (I don't know if you do.) I have no desire to start a witch hunt or influence anyone's opinions of the actual business so I tried to keep it as vague as possible. But I guess some others probably figured me out or at least had the same reaction I did and put the pieces together ;)

      And thanks for the tag! I don't do them often but this one sounds fun :)

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  3. I don't understand why a brand would want to mix their personal views and opinions on a fan page for their products. I like brands that keep to their business. I don't want to know what they are thinking. Personally, if I come to know the person behind the brand has different political or religious views than mine, I just roll my eyes and brush it off because it is just a difference of opinion. But I find certain things offensive, which are a huge no-no, like racism, sexism, even hunting, any unscientific ideas and exact things what Nadja said.

    I don't follow that many indie brands on social networks but many big names have tainted their image by their own stupidity. Recently, Illamasqua had an ad campaign which looked very similar to Blackface. Many people were offended and they made it clear through FB and Twitter. But Illamasqua instead of apologising not only for using an image which was insensitive but also for offending many people, stood by the ad and made a statement something like "what we did was right, we can't help if you are offended" or some such thing. I am completely put me off by the brand and I won't be giving them my money. In this case, it wasn't their opinion but they could have handled things better. Attention seeking brands do it on purpose.



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    1. Thanks for you thoughts Su! I remember that ad campaign, that was quite jarring given the historical significance, and Illamasqua's response was definitely dismissive and patronizing. Starting their "apology" with "OBVIOUSLY we meant no offense" really doesn't make one feel all warm and tingly inside, does it?

      The seller I have in mind has never posted anything I find offensive on their business page, so it was extra disturbing to see public post after post on their personal page that just really rubbed me the wrong way. Having a simple difference of opinion is one thing, but when post after post is expounding beliefs in a really militant, fanatical way that I find truly offensive, with their friends or whatever chiming in with equally hateful, ugly comments, I can't help but pause and wonder if I really want to support this person. It was probably my mistake for even looking them up, but when I recognized their name from my orders when they commented on other fan pages, I was just curious to know more about them. Lesson definitely learned!

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    2. I don't know if it is the same person that Dee and you are talking about, but I just now accidentally noticed something that disturbed me and immediately thought of you. This person's business page is kind of linked to the their personal page (in the description that they are owner/CEO of the certain company). So many public posts about things that actually disgust me. A big EWWW from me too and kind of glad I haven't bought anything from them.
      I think I should get off FB asap! argh

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    3. Su, I'm guessing that there is a good chance it is the same person. I really didn't write this post to dissuade anyone from buying from anyone in particular, but the experience really did get me thinking about the whole possibility of loving the art/hating the artist in general (hate is just an expression of course, I don't hate them at all, I just can't get behind what they stand for.) It wouldn't be much of a dilemma if the product/customer service was not up to par, but it's actually a wonderful product and I just purchased from them recently. I will get my final order, enjoy it as much as possible, and then I will have to bid them adieu. I wish I hadn't seen what I saw, but I did, and that's a bell that can't be unrung, unfortunately.

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  4. Ohhhh, this is SO weird, because I was having this exact thought last night, and I wonder if it's the same person we are thinking of? I was reading FB, saw a comment on another company's status update from a name that was amiliar, and clicked on it to see who it was. I was confronted with reams of political ranting that is so diametrically opposite my own beliefs that my first thought was, "Ew! I cannot believe I bought things from this person!"

    I understand the dilemma, because there is a part of me that thinks, well if someone makes a good product then their personal views shouldn't concern me. On the other hand, if I knew that a plumber was a member of a white supremicist group, I wouldn't be hiring them to fix my blocked pipes no matter how good they are, you know?

    I'm pretty vehement in my political beliefs, to the point where I won't really ever bend to the other side's view because I believe very strongly that their values and beliefs are pretty awful. I have very few friends from 'the other side' because I really do judge people personally based on what they believe, and I don't get how anyone could do otherwise. On the other hand, I'm aware that sometimes that makes me seem petty or judgemental.

    A thorny topic! I will say though, that I am not keen to do any more business with this person any time soon, even though I like their products a lot and they have never been anything less than nice and professional with me personally. It just makes me feel a bit yuk knowing I'm handing over money to someone who thinks that way. :-/

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    1. Dee, thanks so much for your comments. I think that, barring some extremely odd coincidence, there's a high degree of probability that we're thinking of the same person.

      I think the water gets even more muddied if you have used the "plumber's" services multiple times BEFORE you find out the truth about them. Even then, I would think it wouldn't be too hard to find a new plumber and I wouldn't be too emotionally invested in what they do. It's tricky for me because these things I purchase really are art to me, they are ways for me to express myself. I'm just not sure I can remain objective enough to continue loving these particular expressions quite as much given what I know. I wish I could :(

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  5. A very interesting question! I am actually a vegan and a big animal lover, so the example you gave was pretty easy for me to put myself into - and honestly I think for me the answer would be that that particular case wouldn't bother me. While I obviously don't support hunting, I don't like it when people try to tell me what to do, so I try not to impose my beliefs on others. It would be a different story if I found out a brand I really loved was dripping their perfume oils in bunnies' eyes or something, of course. And I think I'd have a hard time supporting a business if I discovered that it was run by someone virulently anti-gay, anti-choice, or racist. There are certain dealbreakers. But barring extremes like that, someone's personal beliefs differing from my own isn't too much of an issue.

    It's definitely a good one to think about, though. I actually think it's MORE of an issue with large, faceless companies than with small, independent businesses - those big conglomerates are much more likely to hold political influence and actually be able to effect change in the world, for better or worse (unfortunately it's usually worse).

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    1. Thank you so much for your thoughts! I think it is certainly a gray area and there are variances in what people will find acceptable or deal-breakers. I am not a vegan, but I do not support hunting for sport. I would consider continue buying from a seller I found out does so in theory. But let's say I find this seller posting really obnoxious posts gloating about their hunting or posting pictures of themselves with their kills. Faced with the graphic reality rather than just a static fact in a vaccuum, I'm just not going to feel as good about the seller or purchasing from them. My post was absolutely not about forcing anyone to agree with my views, that is almost always futile, but rather whether it's possible to feel the same about some piece of art when you know really unsavory things about the creator.

      For instance, do I care about the personal beliefs of the person working in the factory that makes my breakfast cereal? No, not really. Do I pay attention when large companies as a whole stand for things I don't agree with? Definitely. You won't see me patronizing a Chik-fil-A, Hobby Lobby, or Wal-Mart anytime soon. Are there other companies that I probably shouldn't purchase from but I do anyway? Probably so. We're all walking contradictions. Is it fair to feel differently about a seller based on their personal beliefs that they may or may not have intended to make public? Maybe not, but still...yes, it's a thorny topic.

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  6. Liber Vix, this was a very interested post. I feel the same way with others. I prefer companies to be neutral when it comes to their social media networks. I try to be openminded BUT I can't handle racism or sexism. If for example I find out that a seller is offensive that way I can't buy from them. I just can't.

    In my opinion, it's different with other arts like litterature because you don't have a direct communication with the author and you may just reading a book to understand onother view.

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  7. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I do agree it is easier for me to objectively appreciate, say, a classic work of literature on its own merits even if the author wasn't such a great person. One would lose out on a lot of great work if they limited themselves to only artists they considered in line with their own beliefs. A lot of the best artists were definitely very flawed, complex, tortured people! It does feel more personal though when it involves monetary interactions with an individual, and quite a bit harder to emotionally distance myself when I know that person is benefiting from my support. I buy indie because of the unique items I find, the quality, and because it makes me feel good. If the process fails to make me feel good, well then, I've just lost a lot of my motivation!

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Please leave me comments if anything strikes your fancy or if you have any helpful suggestions. Remember, I'm no expert and am just sharing my truth. Hopefully you will find something useful to take with you!

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