When something that you love becomes associated with something hurtful, you yourself risk being associated with that hurtful thing. This happens throughout the artistic world. Many artists create work that provokes humor and spirit out of harmony with the discord they sow in real life. Understandably, the attitudes and beliefs of a person will impact the acceptance of their endeavors. It wasn’t that long ago that I had no reservations about recommending the Harry Potter series. The good in the books is why I still suggest them. The author of Harry Potter has hurt many people in the last couple of years, leaving potential readers avoiding her and repeat readers like myself weighing whether the value in the series really does merit the risk of suggesting them. J. K. Rowling is not unlike other beloved children’s authors and famous artists. Some of Dr. Seuss’ books have anti-Asian sentiment and he drew anti-Asian comics during WWII, yet he is celebrated yearly on National Read Across America Day. His books are excellent for developing phonics and rhyming. For those who read past his well-known works like Green Eggs and Ham and The Cat and the Hat, Dr. Seuss provided his readers with an accessible view of politics, culture, and society. For anyone wishing for a visual to understand the Cold War, just read his Butter Battle Book. Roald Dahl’s books have misogyny and racial stereotypes and he publicly shared anti-Semitic feelings, but he also advocated for vaccinations, developed a lifesaving medical tool, and created characters that never leave us. As a little girl, when I saw myself as a teacher, I was half Ms. Honey, from his book Matilda, and half Ms. Frizzle from Joanna Cole’s Magic School Bus series. Pablo Picasso left a trail of abuse, trauma, and death that seems almost as surreal as his paintings which fetch a price in the millions at art auctions. His style is easily identifiable and used frequently in art classrooms. When I play Kind of Blue, I know I’m listening to the sounds of a man who felt there was no need to repent for the bruises he left on the women in his life, but the sounds of Miles Davis are still spectacular. Since artists are human, it’s not surprising that they sin. It’s also not surprising that their sin is sometimes overlooked and minimized, because it is humans who consume their work. J. K. Rowling wrote an amazing book series, though not without its share of problematic material, and she writes some particularly troubling stuff on social media. I think Daniel Radcliffe responded to her dangerous rhetoric wonderfully, providing assurance that the world of Harry Potter and everything it offers is personal and real to each reader. Just because J. K. Rowling may live in a world where bigotry is acceptable, it doesn’t change that she created a world that anyone can make into what their mind needs it to be. This is a wonderful, mysterious aspect of art. No matter what an artist makes, she can not control, decide, or make any person perceive that art in any particular way. All of the fascinating people I’ve mentioned are light and dark, giving good and taking it away. No artist has the power to keep us from doing the good we need to do with the magic they’ve gifted us.
As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Yesterday, I mentioned donating to Little Libraries. The Little Blue Bookshelf always needs books too. You can have Amazon send books directly to Little Blue Bookshelf’s offices in Joplin and Pittsburgh. Please continue to read because I’ll share more books and places to donate in the future.