While waiting for my copy of Mary Katharine Ham and Guy Benson’s End of Discussion to arrive from Amazon, I stumbled upon a piece over at Slate about a guy who got booted from a tech conference because he thinks the wrong things. The wrong-thinker in question is the famed neoreactionary Mencius Moldbug (real name: Curtis Yarvin); you can read David Auerbach’s piece to see just how wrong his wrong-thoughts are. I’m not terribly interested in all that. What I would like to highlight is a brief portion of Auerbach’s piece in which describes how the politicized life impoverishes us all. Here’s Auerbach:
I noticed the other day on Twitter that someone I had never interacted with—indeed, had never even heard of before—had blocked me. I’ve seen this happen a couple of times and have never remarked on it because, well, Twitter is a weird place. And it seems even more narcissistic than usual to complain about being blocked by a stranger. But I make a general effort not to antagonize people by tagging them in tweets, so I was kind of curious as to why this had happened.
I was really looking forward to Jonathan Chait’s essay in New York magazine about the inanity of social media outrage culture and the danger of letting angry name-calling and base grievance-mongering settle debates. And Chait, that cuddly old reactionary, hit it out of the park. The reaction on social media was, how do you say, “not at all surprising.”
An artist and his art are two different things. There are a great number of people throughout history who have been relatively horrible human beings—abusive, bigoted, etc.—yet relatively brilliant artists. If we started judging every artist’s art by the quality of the artist’s character, we’d be much poorer, culturally speaking. This is why I’ve always tried to keep my opinions about artists and judgment of their art separate. It’s why I’ve always done my best to reject the politicized life, a key component of which is the idea that we can only love art created by artists we agree with.
All of which is to say that I’m pretty comfortable with the argument that Woody Allen’s films should be considered apart from Woody Allen’s character. Even for a filmmaker as inextricably linked to his work as Allen, the film and the filmmaker are separate entities. They exist apart from each other. Manhattan and Annie Hall and Midnight in Paris work or do not work on their own, regardless of how you feel about Woody Allen.
And there are a lot of reasons to think that Woody Allen is a pretty horrible person.
Filling in for Andrew Sullivan, Phoebe Maltz Bovy wants you to know that you should feel bad if you’ve laughed at the “you had one job” meme. It’s a running Internet gag goes something like this: Find something horribly, obviously wrong, and slap the tag “You had one job!” on it. For instance: