Art can be separated from the imperfect artist
By Carlos Bilan, Staff Writer
A “problematic fave” or problematic favourite is an umbrella term that describes people (mostly celebrities), shows, movies, and other form of media which have exhibited behaviour that is considered prejudiced and bigoted in nature. This then links to social issues, since if a figure has been considered “problematic” then they have done something against a marginalized group. Although the dictionary definition of “problematic” does not connote this, the term has now been popularly used in this context.
The origin of the term “problematic fave” is not really clear, but most Google results come from a Tumblr blog called yourfaveisproblematic.
The blog posts pictures of celebrities that are considered “problematic” and underneath are bullet points documenting all the ignorant things they have done. Many associate the term with Tumblr due to this blog, but it has been so prevalent in social media that other media outlets have used the term in such a context.
Although the blog’s purpose is to make fans wary of their favourite celebrities, a toxic way of thinking has developed. I’m in no way attacking the blog—I think it’s good that they are educating fans of ignorant things celebrities have done—but there’s a criticism to the delivery of this information and how it has wrongly influenced some of its followers.
The blog brings up events that occurred many years ago. You cannot really expect everyone since they were born to be entirely educated about social issues. One example is cultural appropriation, which is something many have been called out for. While it is true that they have to maintain a good public image, you’re putting these celebrities on such a high pedestal or idealizing them as having to be “woke.” You cannot expect that from celebrities who have comfortably been living in a bubble, and whose main purpose is to entertain their audience through their work.
I’m definitely not condoning the ignorant and bigoted things these celebrities have done. The right thing to do is for them to apologize and educate themselves. But even if they don’t apologize, do we really have to shame people for still liking them?
It’s narrow-minded, because it makes things very black and white. It implies that the only right thing to do when a celebrity has done something bigoted is to abandon them completely, because if a person continues to be a fan of them, it immediately implies that they support the problematic action or stance. This also exhibits moral superiority, because the person who shames other people for not doing the same thing believes that they are actually doing the morally-right thing.
Of course, it is totally up to you if you decide to stop being a fan of a celebrity due to something they did, and that is a completely valid reason for doing so. But at the same time, you should not expect everyone to react the same and consider them all bad people for not doing the same as you are. There are fans who blindly support their favourite celebrities no matter what. That may be wrong to you, and you could definitely try to educate them if they’re not aware of it. If they do not see anything wrong with prejudiced actions, then that is a problem. However, there are also fans who actually acknowledge their favourite celebrity’s detriments, and for you to make that person out to be problematic by association is a short-sighted accusation.
The reality is that everybody is “problematic” and that’s because nobody is perfect. The Tumblr blog also mentions that “It’s important to remember that our favourites are human and they will make mistakes and do or say bad things. This does not necessarily mean they are bad people, nor does it mean you cannot like them.”
If you put your favourite celebrities onto such a high pedestal you would just end up disappointed in the end when it all comes crumbling down. This is not the right way to consume media. The same way it is not right for you to blindly support everything they do. The important thing is that you are critical about your favourite celebrities, movies, books, or other forms of media. However, you should be able to separate the art from the artist.