There’s something a bit macabre and unnerving in the need to whitewash, for lack of a better term, fiction and ‘art’ of any sort. While civilization and attitudes and beliefs should (should, I say) be more malleable, ‘fact’ and history should be set in stone.
You don’t have to like it or agree with it but you should at least reckon with it.
We don’t have to like it but we shouldn’t try to change it.
I knew a guy who was an artist and took to taking pieces of art, modern pop art, and would ‘zazzle’ it with his ‘fixes’ – my words. One piece he enhanced the chest on a space girl because he preferred larger busts.
Point is that he had no right to do that and yet he did.
It was gross, but he did it.
Because we CAN change art doesn’t mean we should.
Dragging actors from their graves virtually, music legends from their tombs, and indeed altering the written word to fit the modern times is utterly abhorrent.
How horrifying to imagine being an actor only to know that if you were big enough, famous enough, that someone might monetize your fame post death. Those arbiters of your image could whore you out to any sort of film that pays well enough, even if the project isn’t one you’d do, or is against your beliefs. Same goes for musicians, we want to drag them from the grave virtually to perform concerts they may not have wanted to give. Some, like say Prince, were selective at the end on what he released, when he played, and what he did. To start sending someone like him on tour, because the fans want it, is crazy. He is gone but his music lives on and I guarantee there’s a lot of live music in those vaults if they choose to release it.
The point though is that their deaths ended their creation of art and we cannot force them to keep dancing and performing for us because we miss them.
We can’t bring them back from the dead and we can’t change their deaths and their art to comfort ourselves.
We shouldn’t change art to reflect us, we should teach why that art may not reflect us.
We should educate on why that person chose to create their art the way they did and not pull their corpse onto some virtual stage for a trial they cannot take part in.
This is an US problem, not a THEM problem.
Don’t like the social politics of J.K. Rowling?
Don’t like her.
But burning your copies of books she wrote and that you loved is stupid when you loved them for a reason.
But you do you.
Changing language because it now feels painful isn’t fair to the creator.
Sure, we shouldn’t call people ‘fat’ and should never use the word ‘retarded’ but if someone does, then let them use it and let us reckon with it.
I will never reach the fame where anyone much cares about my books one way or t’other but I would hate to think someone could change my texts from what I wrote.
I may be wrong in how I portrayed things, I may not be as enlightened as future generations, and I may just be a crumb, but that’s on me.
To change it to sell more books is disgusting.
To do it isn’t serving the art but is kneeling to the public.
It’s serving the master of ignorance.
We are not going to like every piece of art.
I GUARANTEE ‘Piss Christ’ is still reviled by more than love it, but it is still a piece of art and shouldn’t be changed to ‘Sparkling Water Nameless Savior’.
Maybe we need to be offended.
Maybe we need to understand our limits.
Maybe we need to understand that language and society changes and we need these markers to see that.
It’s a very cold bucket of water to read how people of other races and cultures were viewed just one hundred years ago, or less.
We need to see that though.
We need to be disgusted at it.
I love H.P. Lovecraft but his xenophobia and veiled misogyny are there and should remain. If you want to judge him, and hate him, have at it, but to me it’s not fair since none of us KNEW him. But the writing, it’s there. We can analyze it, we can debate it, and we can hate it, because it’s writing.
It isn’t him.
That’s part of it too, that we forget that artists are creating art.
They are not always reflecting themselves.
Sure, art is inspired by and influenced by the artist but it isn’t them.
Not all of it.
And here’s the thing, who are we to demand artists change their work for us and our ‘delicate sensibilities’?
A text like the Bible changed how it is presented because it is meant to be embraced by ‘all’. Right or wrong, that’s the point.
Art isn’t like that.
Take it or leave it.
Not all art is for all people.
That’s how it works.
Some books, some music, some movies, on and on, are not for everyone.
If it offends you, don’t consume it.
You don’t get the right to change it to suit your needs.
So if you read it and say, don’t like the end, should we change that?
Should we add in things too?
They are doing that with the books of Roald Dahl and it’s reprehensible because he didn’t make the changes.
Others did it to generate more sales.
Because we’re upset by it.
And we’re too lazy to bother to educate kids to understand that, while those words are used in a book, it doesn’t mean we should use them with one another.
This is where we are at with culture.
Gazing at our navels, gazing at ourselves, and wringing our hands over things that upset us and demanding they change for us.
So we dig up the graveyards to make the dead explain themselves so we can sleep easier.