In light of the many problematic things happening in the world right now with the overall xenophobia, transphobia, and the systemic racism present in the very foundation of American society being outed and spoken up about, many of the authors that we loved and thought we knew are stating their opinions. And a lot of them are opinions many of us cannot stand by. Whether it is disregarding the entire trans community, stating ‘all lives matter’ in an ignorant and condescending manner, or the belittling of the opposite sex, these authors are simply problematic and ‘cancel culture’ wants them… canceled.
Is it reasonable to simply ‘cancel’ them? As a reader who genuinely loves and adores the stories many of these writers have created, it is difficult to simply dismiss the author or their claims and choose to reject their work when many of their books are ingrained into the very essence of my being. So where does that leave me? Does that mean that I continue to support a person (or their work) whose ideas I cannot stand by?
For the past couple of weeks, I have struggled to understand how to handle a situation like this. I, of course, do not whatsoever agree with these authors’ ideologies. Yet, many of their books fill my shelves and hold a beloved piece of my heart. Is that acceptable to me? Am I supporting these authors and their bad views by keeping their books and still having fond feelings for them even if I am trying my best not to?
I think the best thing I can do as I slowly learn and understand more of the world around me, is to separate the work from the author. Although yes, it is important to understand the person who wrote them and know what they’ve said in regards to the world and people in it. And yes, it is important that we acknowledge their beliefs and what they’ve said in the past and how it compares to what is present in their books.
But ultimately, I believe works of fiction are what the reader make them to be. Despite the fact that it is the author who writes the story, it is I, the reader, who takes from that what I may. It is I, the reader, who chooses to understand and interpret the context of it in a way that is ideal to me. That’s what makes literature so great. What I may take from it isn’t what everyone else is going to take from it.
Fundamentally as readers, we should all acknowledge the authors intentions and views in their work whatever they may be. Yet as readers, we can also choose to decipher the meaning behind it to how we see fit. This is my belief and this is why I still keep these authors books and love them, although I do not support the authors themselves.