Thursday, August 02, 2007

The artist you have personal issues with ...

The artist you have personal issues with ...
(Tom Cruise, Charlton Heston, Bono et al ... and the Dave Sim conundrum)

There is a great Catch-22 for anyone in the arts (film, literature, comics, comedy, photography, painting, etc ...) in that if they use their "celebrity" to say something they are labeled as opportunist (or worse) and if they do not then they are labeled as vacuous and shallow.

Although I generally think that it is a good thing for those with something to say to say it, how they say it becomes very important ...

--- case in point #1: Tom Cruise. Tom has strong feelings for his church and is willing to very publicly go on the record. Since he is Tom Cruise, people print or broadcast pretty much anything he says. Since he has not always used tact or restraint in order to get his point across he is now very often the object of ridicule or disdain, as well as of box office boycotts. People who would otherwise enjoy his films choose not to go because of his personal stances and behavior. Although I like the casting of Robert Downey, Jr. I still think Cruise would have made an excellent Tony Stark.

--- case in point #2 Charlton Heston. "My President is Charlton Heston" read the bumper sticker in front of me the other night, a clear indication of the support Heston has as a 2nd Amendment advocate and NRA President. I have issues with the NRA. But, Charlton Heston has been willing to go on SNL and do skit comedy about his stances, making him much more of a sympathetic figure for me in regards to his stances. He is nonetheless, still a lightning rod due to those stances. I am sad for his health.

--- case in point #3 Bono. Somehow Bono has managed to avoid much of the ridicule (he gets some)... but perhaps by being willing to meet with people he disagrees with and by actually being informed as well as by being the face for several issues he has developed a fair amount of credibility other celebs would kill for ... U2 is still a band that has remained relevant musically.

--- case in point #4 Dave Sim. The creator, writer, and artist for Cerebus
has alienated a fair amount of the comic industry with his public stances on socio-political issues; primarily for his opposition to feminism. Tangent and other writings have made it so that some people find admitting they like Cerebus akin to supporting Sim's politics; which is simply not the case.

Too often it is believed that if someone admits to supporting some one's work then they are supporting what that person believes in. In some instances that might very well be true. But, for the most part, especially in the arts, I do not believe it is so. Going to Tom Cruise's next film does not make me a Scientology sympathizer any more than reading Cerebus makes me a misogynist (I also do not believe that Dave's anti-feminist stance means he hates women. In fact, I think his views on feminism are strictly societal impact issues.).

When someone supports a company doing something bad; yes the support contributes. When one supports a politician that is corrupt or doing other bad things; yes the support contributes. But I do not believe that supporting an artist with different thoughts and beliefs is the same thing. Sometimes, those things we don't agree with or don't want to hear are necessary for the kind of open public dialogue essential to society. Sometimes those things we don't want to hear are necessary in order to make us truly evaluate what we really believe.

Here's the deal; I like Dave Sim the guy. I liked him the time I met him here in Seattle in the early 90's. I like that he takes the time to actually write back and sent me character pencils. I don't agree with his socio-political outlook. I liked and read Cerebus from issue 16 through issue 300, enjoy reading Following Cerebus, and will read the "Secret Dave Sim Project" when it comes out ... It is not necessary for me to agree with him to enjoy his work. There, I said it.


  1. Anonymous12:48 PM

    I agree with all that, and hey, I started Cerebus with issue #16 as well!
    -- Paul Worthington

  2. Dave's socio-political views have largely been 'spot on' in my view. His views on feminism/gender issues have been some of the most 'openly' honest (and reasoned) I've heard from anyone.

    I picked up Melmoth in the early 90's by chance & was blown away by it. I then went back & bought every issue and phonebook to #300 in the forthcoming decade-&-a-half and haven't followed any other comic as fervently since. (Not that there's much that compares.)

    I think Dave is one-in-a-billion. I'll go on record as a firm (nay, 'Firm') supporter of him, particularly on Cerebus & his views on feminism.