This brief post is too long for twitter. It’s about artists who are douchebags.
I have this annoying habit that if I discover that an artist is a douchebag, my opinion of their art is affected. If they’re lucky, the art is so good that it doesn’t matter enough that I won’t buy it. If they’re unlucky, their personality (or at least the perception of their personality) tips the balance.
A good local example is the writer John Birmingham. I’ve never read any of his work, not even Falafel, though I am familiar with some of the people who inspired several of its stories. Nonetheless, his apparent congeniality and positive attitude towards his fans strongly tips the balance in favour of the art that he produces.
On the flipside, I’ve come to like the Harry Potter series less over time, partly because the series became a little bloaty, but mostly because JK Rowling seems to be a cranky old curmudgeon. Firstly, her handling of the highly publicised court case to shut down a fan-written Harry Potter Lexicon left me with a foul taste in my mouth, as it felt like a deliberate attack on fans by a self-entitled author (I’m just talking about my perceptions here!). Secondly, her totally backwards and conservative opinion about ebooks (that is, refusing to license the HP series in ebook format).
Another personal example is the band The Foo Fighters. I saw a documentary detailing their AIDS denialism. I was never a huge fan of the band, but now I actively roll my eyes whenever I hear about them.
I’m not saying everyone should be like this, but I am pretty sure there are others out there like me, wandering around in consumer land. Could it be a decent number? Does the modern hyper-connected artist have to be nice as well as creative, to get those edge-case sales?