I’ve been thinking and reading more about this Goodreads drama (for a brief overview, see my last post). Since I was out of the drama, I don’t know the extent of this or the bullying or the retaliation by authors. I’m going to speak only in the hypothetical.
There seems to be existential questions emerging from this drama. Some people are asking why reviewers don’t just judge the book by the story and the writing opposing to by something the creator did. They are calling for works to be judged on their own merits as opposed to a certain attribute of the writer. Yet others are asking how readers can separate the author from the creative work.
I’ve been thinking about these two ideas and where my own opinion lies, both in terms of the Goodreads drama and how I read books. But I’ve been thinking about it in the larger scheme of capitalism.
I don’t shop at Wal-Mart because I don’t want to support any of their practices. I could rant forever on how horrible they are (how their employees often are on Medicaid because Wal-Mart doesn’t pay them enough to buy health insurance or provide benefits, how they push companies out of business, how they bully employees into working overtime without compensation) but that would turn quickly into a long post. And it bothers me how so-called libertarians will shop at Wal-Mart. I’ve heard libertarians ramble about how the invisible hand of the market will solve health care and abusive employers. But only will if those same libertarians will stop shopping at the places who engage in those practices they allegedly want to stop. Thus I think any libertarian who shops at Wal-Mart is a hypocrite.
It’s not just Wal-Mart. It’s also Chick-fil-A (for other reasons), things made in sweatshops, chocolate that uses slave labor, etc. And bizarrely, I’ve been asked by libertarians why I care. It’s because the invisible hand will not work unless we care. At least, that’s a way of explaining it that they should understand. But they seem to think libertarian is the same as screw you, I’ve got mine.
I don’t think my consumption of art or entertainment should be much different. I don’t want to support authors or entertainers who engage in practices that should be discouraged. Michael Fassbender may have been hot as Magneto in X-Men First Class, but I don’t want to spend money that will eventually end up in the pockets of domestic abusers. I’d rather spend my money on the old X-Men movies and Patrick Stewart, who will spend his efforts fighting domestic violence. I know it’s a drop in the bucket. And I know some things will slip by me. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try.
Of course, I don’t think anyone said the Goodread’s authors abused their spouses, used slave labor, or don’t support equal rights. But it’s still my money. I want to be informed as to where it goes. I don’t think I should have to defend that or hide that.
Read also: Goodreads; Badcensorship