Is it okay to hate the player but not the game?


When I was a kid, my entire family gathered every week to watch the Cosby Show. It was the only show we watched together. We loved it. But, given Cosby’s alleged crimes, I simply wouldn’t be able to enjoy those shows the same way. The nostalgia has been tainted, quite likely demolished by the artist’s behavior.

Many of us strive to be ethical consumers. We drink fair trade coffee. We wear sweat-shop-free clothing. We may even research how creative works are produced, but do we pay as close attention to the artist or creator’s behavior outside the context of his or her art? Should we?

I know several people who absolutely hate Tom Cruise and refuse to watch his films. When I ask these friends why they dislike him and avoid his work, they don’t site his acting ability or the quality of his creative output, rather, they site odd behavior in interviews, statements he has made outside the context of filmmaking, and his connections to the Church of Scientology.

I personally find Tom Cruise odd, no question, but I like many of his movies and the way he leads his life off-screen doesn’t detract from my enjoyment of said movies. But, I must admit, upon watching Going Clear, a recent documentary about the Church of Scientology, their alleged crimes and Cruise’s involvement, I began to question whether my supporting the actor’s work was tantamount to condoning the actions of an organization that is, in more ways than one, in direct opposition to many of my own values.

As consumers of creative works, is it our responsibility to ensure that the artists we love share our values?  And if they do not, are we permitted to separate the artist from the art, or are they inextricably linked? Is it okay to hate the player but not the game?

I’m not sure there are satisfying answers to these questions. I think we all make these value judgements individually and inwardly. My friends have decided that, upon weighing their dislike for Tom Cruise against the pleasure they get from his movies, the former won out. Upon taking those same measurements, my own ethical scale tipped the other way. Right or wrong … I don’t know. But, holy cats, that opening scene in Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation? So. Awesome.

Written by: Andre Farant

Illustration by: Stefano Di Lollo