Despite the ArtistEarlier this year, DC comics announced that the acclaimed author Orson Scott Card was to contribute a script for an upcoming Superman anthology. This sparked an online campaign from Superman fans who claimed that Scott Card‘s prominent views against Gay Marriage go against all the things that Superman stands for.

But should it matter? Can we not just enjoy art for art’s sake, and divorce ourselves from the personal views and opinions of the artist? Scott Card is an excellent and successful writer. What does it matter that his beliefs might differ from our own?

It comes down to a moral question. By enjoying a book, TV show or movie, you could argue that we are supporting its makers. You can make a stand against them by choosing to avoid certain products, and if enough people join you, it can be seen as society making a statement that it does not condone the views of the artist. The actor and comedian Michael Richards found his post Seinfeld career over when he went on a racist rant during a stand-up routine. The American folk singer Michelle Shocked had her US tour cancelled mid run after she decided to verbally attack homosexuality on stage in the middle of a show.

But where is the line? It perhaps comes down simply to the strength of your opinions verses your interest in the art itself. If I learn that an author or movie director is a strong proponent of a view or belief that I fundamentally disagree with, I might well actively avoid their work. If I learnt that they simply hold those beliefs but do nothing to promote them, I wouldn’t feel quite so strongly.

What about the artists that I already enjoy? If I discover that an artist I have been a fan of for years holds strong views that are against my own, it wouldn’t be easy for me to cut them out of my life. How possible is it for my opinion of the work to be diluted by knowledge of the artist?

Then we must consider other aspects of the artist as well. No one is a simple one dimensional being. Orson Scott Card is also a strong supporter of renewable energy. If people boycott his work because of one opinion, are they also belittling the other? But is it acceptable to ignore an opinion we disagree with if we agree with another?

Essentially it all has to come down to personal choice for each situation. The Superman controversy came about not so much because of Scott Card’s views but because of the proposed connection to DC Comics. The character is an icon and that, along with DC’s recent push towards LGBT inclusion in their publications, caused many fans to react strongly against his involvement. They weren’t screaming for a boycott on all of his work, just that he shouldn’t be involved in this one.

Where is the line that divides the artist and his work? So many authors are, to me, nothing more than a name on the front cover. I’ll possibly have read a few interviews where they talk about their work, but I’ll know nothing of their private lives. To me they are the work they produce, little more. We cannot be expected to research every author, actor or director before we read a book or see a film.

Maybe the answer is simply that ignorance is bliss. If, in the future, I discover things that are so unsettling I feel I need to make a stand then I will. Until then I’m going to just enjoy what the artist creates.