When I first saw the documentary “Leaving Neverland“, there was no uncertainty in me on wether Michael Jackson had sexually abused children. After that, whenever his music comes on the radio I change station. If I hear the words “Heal the world, make it a better place”; it elicits a very uncomfortable feeling in me. His music was a front screen, an image to hide his evil intentions. If I have a criticism to “Leaving Neverland”, its that it doesn’t explain the psychological workings sexual abuse plays out long term in victims, both as children and later as grown adults.
Now J.K. Rowling is under heavy critisism for her views on trans people. When I read that piece I didn’t really understand why she was critized so heavily. Truth is, I have no understanding of the complexity of these issues because I don’t have any vested interest in it. Then I read another piece in a norwegian site that made me understand a bit more what the problems were.
I have also followed the controversies regarding Woody Allen and the Farrow clan. What all of these have in common is that they are well known creators with much loved artworks; whether it be music, books or films. Wether the allegations made are true or not, we still make some judgement on them. We begin to wonder: “How are we to relate to these artworks now?”
One method is to decide to seperate the creator from the artwork. This mean we can still listen to Michael Jacksons music and not like his actions privately. We have the other method: rejecting his music completely as a protest.
What I really liked about the norwegien piece was that it put Rowlings bookst hrough the lens of stereotyping and specific paragraphs gets pointed to. This is nothing new; Take Huckleberry Finn where the N** word has been censored out because it isn’t politically accepted.
So should artwork like books be censored? Should we drop the creations, should we leave it intact and use it to better understand the context it was written in or should it be rewritten (and what is lost in the process)?
And how should we view these beloved creators like Rowling that have been just that – beloved?
Because their humanity is bleeding out in front of us. Their failings, misgivings. Their imperfections. Their humanity.
Even if you disagree with Rowling, she wrote a long piece which shows that she obviously cares. However well intentioned a person can be, they can still do damage. Which is the very definition of just being alive. To exist. To create and publish is an act of courage in Rowlings case – which sometimes fails. In case of living people, we have to leave room for mistakes and growth, yet let our voices be heard.
Harry Potter is an inspired piece. So where does this inspiration come from? Would that inspiration have been allowed to bloom if an author have to consider everything from a political correct point? Being inspired to create usually comes from many unrelating sources that somehow comes together into being and decide to manifest into this world.
Truth is that our heroes may be terribly disappointing if we met them in real life, because they will be so very different from our imagination of them.
So to quote Jack Gilbert: “To make injustice the only measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.”
I’m going to end it with these paragraphs from Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert:
But I will never forget what the real Jack Gilbert told somebody else – an actual flesh-and-blood person, a shy University of Tennessee student. This young woman recounted to me that one afternoon, after his poetry class, Jack had taken her aside. He complimented her work, then asked what she wanted to do with her life. Hesitantly, she admitted that perhaps she wanted to be a writer.
He smiled at the girl with infinite compassion and asked, “Do you have the courage? Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes”