When Creators I Love Are Piles of Garbage

As I began writing a post about how much I love the new cartoon Clarence — little details like stuck sliding doors, hilarious lines of dialogue — I went to Google to look up some info on the creator, Skyler Page. And what did I find? Links to tumblrs and Twitters revealing that, earlier this week, he’s been publicly accused of sexually harassing female coworkers.

There are enough different animators/story board artists — male and female — attesting to this, so even though there isn’t an official news post confirming this, I believe it. Too many people are risking their hard to get jobs for this to be entirely false. I’m proud of them, and really glad that victims, and their friends, are standing against this. I’m also horrifically pissed.

There’s all the really obvious stuff. That it HAPPENED; that the victims are being accused of making this up, of not providing enough “proof”; that this has been going on for so long and the person responsible doesn’t seem to have faced any repercussions (you know, like LOSING HIS JOB, not getting his OWN SHOW on a big network). But then there’s the selfish part of me, who is so angry that Skyler Page took something I enjoyed away from me.

I have a hard time separating the person that creates from the thing that’s created. How I feel about them as people invariably affects how I feel about what they’ve made. Sometimes this is for the better, like with John Green’s Internet presence making me enjoy his books more, or Natasha Allegri’s hilarious tumblr and Twitter posts. But more often than not, I’m better off not knowing what they are like. An example is finding out, after reading and loving a few of his books, what a homophobic nut job Orson Scott Card is. I’ve gone back and reread Ender’s Game since then, compartmentalizing this real life knowledge, and I still count that as one of the most well-written books I’ve ever read…but it feels weird to enjoy this person’s work. And I went to see the accused-child-rapist Bryan Singer’s new X-Men movie, though thinking about it too hard makes me feel squicky about doing so.

So there’s a new episode of Clarence on tonight. Will I watch it? Yes. Will I enjoy it? Possibly. There are other people, presumably good and talented people, who write the jokes, draw the pictures, make their living off this show. But the thought will be constantly in my head, who the creator is, what he’s done. There will be guilt. I might not be able to laugh. I certainly won’t love it like I have been doing for the past couple of months. Again, I’m so glad these women and their friends are speaking up, and none of my anger or annoyance goes toward them, not a drop. They get my love and sympathy and pride in their bravery. All the dark feelings, the ones that are making my stomach twist and have had me swearing out loud in the hour since I found this out, those are for the man who caused this, who hurt people and managed to destroy a few ounces of joy.



EDIT Pleasant news, apparently Skyler Page has little to nothing to do with the actual creation/writing of Clarence: http://patrickharpin.tumblr.com/post/90666400624/clarence-head-of-story-reaction Maybe they can boot him and the show will still be good and I won’t feel weird about watching it.

5 thoughts on “When Creators I Love Are Piles of Garbage

  1. I thought of the Orson Scott Card thing even before I got to that paragraph in your post!

    The ironic thing there, of course, is that the main message of “Ender’s Game” could actually be pretty instructive to Card in the area of his homophobia, but he seems to have missed his own point.

    In instances like that, when the overall message actually surpasses its creator, I think the message can still be legitimate and separate from the author’s intent. Kind of like how people can get 6,845,383 different messages out of a Shakespeare play, even though Shakespeare himself could never possibly have intended all those meanings. Or how C.S. Lewis wrote some icky gender theology into “Perelandra” but then I, as a female reader, ended up learning lessons from the male protagonist that Lewis probably didn’t think were relevant to women.

    Still, when we celebrate a creator, it IS good to be aware of who we’re celebrating.

    • I’d say a similar thing about this show, where the main character wants to have fun and be kind to everyone around him. And though there aren’t female characters that get featured in more than one episode, they’re treated well — one’s really into rocks and science and wants to pretend to be a bear, and another gets really excited about catching frogs.

      It really is a good show. It’s funny, and makes me think of all the great things about being a kid, and there’s just a great attention to detail. But I read that he’s only guaranteed the first 12 episodes, and it’s episode 10 tonight, so I wonder if it will be coming back if this turns out to be true (I’m really positive it’s true).

  2. I never thought to research those involved in projects that I love (anime, books, etc.) until i read about an author I liked who supported something I totally disagreed with. It made me uncomfortable to read more of their books because I kept thinking in the back of my head “is my money supporting their cause?”.

    So, I definitely understand where you’re coming from with this and I’m glad the person is not directly involved in the cartoon you like :)

    • I don’t usually actively seek this info out — I’m a believer in creative work standing on its own — but sometimes it is better to know these things. And at least with animation it’s such a group effort, one awful person can’t negate all the other good put into it.

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