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When a creative person you admire proves to be a not so great human being

Posted on Jun 21, 2021 by

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What is there to do when a creative person you admire proves to be a not so great human being? You like someone’s creative work, you follow them on social media, like their posts, maybe have conversations, even meet once or twice or collaborate, and then, suddenly, they say something that leaves you with your mouth open. It can be a social media post, a comment on someone’s work or maybe even on you or your work. It’s a comment that makes you realise they are jerks, whatever that means to you. They might prove to be misogynist, racist, mean or stupid. What do you do? Do you unfollow them straight away and stop giving them your vote of admiration?

What if you still like their work, you still like those pictures, paintings, writing? Should you consider you can live without consuming that art and break the connection? The person who (unfortunately for him) inspired this article is a photographer whose work I like; not the first photographer to lose my respect after reading their opinion on life and people.

Art consumption

However, if you think about it, some writers or painters you admire, who are not alive anymore and can’t expose their views on social media were not really great persons. Some were known as jerks, misogynists, violent with their women, cheating on their friends, etc. We are all humans, not perfect, and even someone who can create wonderful things is allowed to be flawed. We can’t dismiss someone’s good work just because they are immoral or imperfect. Or, can we? There might be some sins we are more inclined to forgive (like treating their peers badly), and some that we could consider unforgivable (being a racist, for example).

Finding the answer to this question is more difficult when talking about classic’s work and a discussion on it can last forever, so let’s better go back to the contemporary creatives whose work we admire and follow in our bubble: what should we do when one of them proves to be a kind of person we despise?

Weird art

I am notorious for overlooking words and behaviours from people around me, because I consider people should not be sanctioned for each stupid mistake they say or do (I’m surely guilty of saying some stupid things in my life!). I am very good at finding attenuating circumstances for them: they go through a rough period; they are drunk; they are depressed, tired, or they are people I work with and I think we should keep a polite relationship. But after having a few slaps on my face because of my forgiveness, I’m trying to reconsider my approach. In certain cases, it’s immediately clear to me I should stop giving them my vote of admiration, stop following them on social media or stop meeting them (if we know each other). Situations are not always black and white, and I still find myself debating if I should disregard certain disturbing comments and keep the relationship. Especially when those people were always nice to me and towards my work and never did something to upset me directly.

Something tells me I will not find the answer soon, so I’m curious to hear your comments. Have you ever been in this situation? How do you deal with it?

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