The Ethics of Consuming Media in Bad Ways or as a Bad Person

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We're all familiar with the ethical question of consuming the art of "bad" artists. For example, are we allowed to watch Roman Polanski movies or movies starring Bill Cosby? A different question is that of the ethics of viewing or listening as a disinvited user or consuming media in a disinvited manner. The B-52's, for example, made it official in 2016. Trumpers are NOT invited to the Love Shack. Stay away fools! If you're pro-Trump, the 52's apparently don't want you. Trumper are disinvited users. Alternatively, if you listen to Bob Roberts fictional discography non-ironically, you are consuming it in a way that Tim Robbins didn't want anyone to do (which is why he didn't release the songs he wrote for Bob Roberts as the original motion picture soundtrack). You are, in the case of listening to the ballads Bob Roberts non-ironically, consuming that media in a disinvited manner (Tim Robbins would have released these songs for sale if he wanted that).

Of course, it's a free country, so Trumpers can blast Love Shack in their cars and homes as the please. Likewise, one can non-ironically sing-along to Bob Roberts ultra-nationalist folk songs and there is nothing Tim Robbins can do to stop you. Ethicality, however, is a different question from legality.

And this is my question, asked in two ways. Is it unethical for non-invited users to consume artworks? Is it unethical, at least in some cases, to consume art in unintended ways?



No, it is not unethical. When you release your art in the world, you relinquish control of it. You don't even get to control how people react to it, nevermind whether they react to it. The same way none of us get to dictate to the rest of the world what kinds of people we are: we can only put our words and deeds, our "works," into the world, and others will make up their own minds about them.

The only difficult question here (if there is any), I think, is whether artists should ever even so much as motion towards the idea. On one hand they believe things and have a platform to speak about them, but on the other it's just a fundamentally childish way of engaging with problems. And there is a sort of bait-and-switch, a violated implication in achieving attention for one thing and then leveraging it for another.

Regardless of how reasonable the attempts are, I think it should be pretty obvious they accomplish nothing and tend to spur pointless backlashes. So the only time someone should do it, in purely pragmatic terms, is if they explicitly want to lean into the tribalism inherent in modern fandom.



What a typically ridiculous attempt to have a serious conversation.


What is the issue here?



Is Fred Schneider using his jackboots to kick Trump supporters from his concerts? Or kick naturalized citizens out of the country?


Oh, that's right, were pretending this nothing bullshit is a way to prompt discussion about important topics. You know like how the B52s think Trump supporters have disgusting political views that they are happy to distance themselves from. Which, ya, they should. And they have every right to. Just like Trump supporters continue to have every right they like to pretend is being denied to them. They can follow the B52s across the country Grateful Dead style of they choose.

And Fred Schneider still doesn't have to like them.


Can we close this thread now?



Trouble with a capital "T"
What a typically ridiculous attempt to have a serious conversation.


What is the issue here?



Is Fred Schneider using his jackboots to kick Trump supporters from his concerts? Or kick naturalized citizens out of the country?


Oh, that's right, were pretending this nothing bullshit is a way to prompt discussion about important topics. You know like how the B52s think Trump supporters have disgusting political views that they are happy to distance themselves from. Which, ya, they should. And they have every right to. Just like Trump supporters continue to have every right they like to pretend is being denied to them


Can we close this thread now?
Whaaat? You told me the other day how you wanted a debate. There's Corax, debate him.



So, this is a complex topic.

But I see at least three clear-cut perspectives:

The first perspective assumes the death of the artist, meaning it doesn't matter what the artist initially intended. The audience can interpret and enjoy the art in their own ways, regardless of the artist’s intentions.

The second perspective assumes that not only is what the artist specifically intended important, but also that art doesn't exist in a vacuum and watching, liking, or endorsing it has its consequences. In other words, art is inherently connected to the artist, and the audience has to consider and respect the artist's intentions and opinions, as well as the social and political intentions of the art.

There's also a third perspective somewhere in between that recognizes the artist's intentions (say, malicious and evil) but allows you to ignore or downplay them if the work of art has other things to offer (e.g., great artistry). I'm mostly here.
__________________
Preserving the sanctity of cinema. Subtitles preferred, mainstream dismissed, and always in search of yet another film you have never heard of. I speak fluent French New Wave.



Trouble with a capital "T"
Here's my take: it's all down to Death of the Author. I don't care what the artist intended or what stipulations they made about viewing/using/liking their art...etc, etc. If I want to visit the Love Shack I will, of course I'm sure the B52s would personally invite me and I'll bring my own glitter!



I don't care what the artist intended or what stipulations they made about viewing/using/liking their art...etc, etc.
So you enjoy power electronics made by neo-Nazis who openly incite genocide?



So, this is a complex topic.

But I see at least three clear-cut perspectives:

The first perspective assumes the death of the artist, meaning it doesn't matter what the artist initially intended. The audience can interpret and enjoy the art in their own ways, regardless of the artist’s intentions.

The second perspective assumes that not only is what the artist specifically intended important, but also that art doesn't exist in a vacuum and watching, liking, or endorsing it has its consequences. In other words, art is inherently connected to the artist, and the audience has to consider and respect the artist's intentions and opinions, as well as the social and political intentions of the art.

There's also a third perspective somewhere in between that recognizes the artist's intentions (say, malicious and evil) but allows you to ignore or downplay them if the work of art has other things to offer (e.g., great artistry). I'm mostly here.
For what it's worth, my response is not interpreting the question this way at all. I'm answering the bolded questions in the OP.

Death of an Author is, I think, something else. I don't take the same "you relinquish control" approach when it comes to interpreting the work, exactly.

It's interesting to me that these things are often conflated, though. Not saying it's wrong, just interesting, and it feels to me like there's a subtle but important distinction.



A system of cells interlinked
So you enjoy power electronics made by neo-Nazis who openly incite genocide?
You mean Volkswagens?
__________________
“It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.” ― Thomas Sowell



No, it is not unethical. When you release your art in the world, you relinquish control of it.
Yes, this is the orthodox view, a view I have voiced on many occasions, because I share it. I think the view has truth objectively and normatively. Objectively, this is just what happens whether we like it our not. Normatively, we're putting art out there to be consumed, so if we wanted it to be our private property we should have never released it. The dance of culture is improved by alteration and appropriation. Culture is appropriation, so I am down with the normative truth of this position.

That stated, it seems that there is a conversation to be had about some uses and gratifications. Would you, for example, as a prison warden allow convicted child predators to watch Lolita and Blue Lagoon on a loop for a "film festival weekend"? Or, consider that there was that controversy over whether white people should take seats away from people of color for the opening weekend of Black Panther. Activists on social media encouraged whites to stay home or, better yet, give tickets away to POC for opening weekend and self-relegate themselves to watching it later. We may not agree with the idea, but this idea was put out there.

Personally, I don't that the Koran should be burned or that crucifixes should be placed in jars of urine are art, so there are limits to my normativity, although I must concede that people will do it anyway (objectively).

I am questioning whether our common commitment is really absolute or whether there are boundaries.

To be clear, the objective question is not part of the conversation. People do various things with art. I am only asking the question of whether, in some cases, it is the case that they should forebear from doing so (either as disinvited consumers or as one who consumes in a disinvited fashion).

If an artist, for example, said that I (personally or demographically) was not welcome attend their exhibition or concert, I would feel some pressure not to attend, simply by way of not feeling welcome. And indeed, if I did attend, that would seem to be a subversive and likely political act in itself.



So, this is a complex topic.

But I see at least three clear-cut perspectives:

The first perspective assumes the death of the artist, meaning it doesn't matter what the artist initially intended. The audience can interpret and enjoy the art in their own ways, regardless of the artist’s intentions.

The second perspective assumes that not only is what the artist specifically intended important, but also that art doesn't exist in a vacuum and watching, liking, or endorsing it has its consequences. In other words, art is inherently connected to the artist, and the audience has to consider and respect the artist's intentions and opinions, as well as the social and political intentions of the art.

There's also a third perspective somewhere in between that recognizes the artist's intentions (say, malicious and evil) but allows you to ignore or downplay them if the work of art has other things to offer (e.g., great artistry). I'm mostly here.

Reports of the demise of the author of have been greatly exaggerated. Every time we build a shrine to a director or attempt to divine their secret meaning (e.g., Room 234) we're in the orbit of the author and the metaphysics of presence.


And the author isn't the only guardrail. In effect, there are "community guidelines" regarding consumption (e.g., don't buy R. Kelly, don't give Polanski awards, "don't rap the N-word if you're white" is a rule regarding how one may consume, "don't come to Black Panther on opening night if your white" is a rule offered by activists--not the author or makers--which polices who may consume).



Trouble with a capital "T"
...Or, consider that there was that controversy over whether white people should take seats away from people of color for the opening weekend of Black Panther. Activists on social media encouraged whites to stay home or, better yet, give tickets away to POC for opening weekend and self-relegate themselves to watching it later. We may not agree with the idea, but this idea was put out there./.
I hadn't heard about that but if true it saddens me that bigotry still exist and is acceptable enough for anyone on social medial to suggest such a racist thing and not get shouted down and voted into social media oblivion.



This reminds me much of the plight of Kramer in the Seinfeld episode "The Chicken Roaster".

Due to a large, red, neon sign for Kenny Roger's Chicken that is erected directly opposite Kramer's apartment window and which obtrusively casts a blasting red light into his dwelling, Kramer develops a hatred for Kenny Rogers. Kramer decides to do whatever he can to take down the Kenny Roger's Chicken dynasty... that is until he gets a taste of the chicken! Kramer becomes addicted to the chicken and finds himself at a crossroads - if he continues his crusade against Rogers, he'll lose the chicken he's come to love, but if he gives up the fight he'll have to live with the accursed red glow that has made his apartment unlivable!