One need not follow the other

Molly Cahill

Why does our opinion of a thing or person so affect our ability to enjoy it? Michael Jackson is one of those subjects that never fails to get a rise out of people; everyone has an opinion. He is a gifted musician, but after he was accused of child molestation, many hesitated to even listen to his music.

I think it must be that people equate buying a CD or seeing a movie with supporting the beliefs of the people who put it out. With so many people in our country, it seems downloading a song off iTunes is equated with casting your vote in favor of the people who produced it. I don’t think it should, though.

Sometimes I think we lend too much credence to a person’s reputation as defining their value.

In the advertising world, for a celebrity to endorse a product they need to have an image that is aligned with how the company selling the product wants it to be perceived. Not long after the whole Tiger Woods scandal broke, the ads we were so used to seeing on TV began to disappear. Was this because he was suddenly no longer able to play golf?

No, it was because despite the old adage that “all publicity is good publicity,” he had become damaged goods. Advertisers worried that no one would want to buy products associated with a man caught schtooping someone other than his wife. Hell, we almost impeached one of our presidents for committing the same “crime.”

As a composer, Richard Wagner produced some of the most enduring operas ever written. His reputation as an anti-Semite, though, has followed him even into death. His beliefs may be reprehensible to those who don’t prescribe to the same, but does it necessarily follow that we should also boycott his works?

This is how we end up banning books. We decide that the point of view or message contained within its pages is so harmful that no one should even be exposed to it. You don’t have to agree with what is said to recognize it as having cultural relevance or meaning. “Thriller” will always be one of the best songs to shake your groove to on Halloween.

We spend so much time worrying about how we will look in the eyes of our friends if we appear to support a person society has deemed persona non grata that we overlook the fact that Bill Clinton was a good president or that Mel Gibson is a great actor. People should learn to think for themselves rather than rely on society as a whole to form their opinions for them. Judge a work by its own merit, not by what the TV has said the person has done. Believe me, it is entirely possible to watch “Braveheart” or “The Little Mermaid” without turning into a neo-Nazi.

Molly Cahill is a senior pre-journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.

Contact her at [email protected].