Separating entertainment and business from politics

Over in the games section, a comment was made in the top ten overlooked games about the creative director (Vavre) for Kingdom Come: Deliverance. I had followed its development progress for years and had looked forward to it, but never bought it. Initially because I lacked the PC to run it, but after release the combat and save game system sounded unappealing to me. I then saw some glowing reviews for the game and started to reconsider - until that is I read some examples from Vavre’s twitter feed*. That made the decision not to get it easier, even though he’s only one person out of many at the game studio.

I freely admit to hypocrisy on the issue. I don’t shop at Wal Mart due to how they muscle out local retailers, or Home Depot because I hate their commercials. I try not to buy EA titles, but I’ve still played the Sims. I know Amazon treats their worker bees shitty but that doesn’t stop me from using Amazon (like, a lot.) I refuse to watch anything with Kevin Sorbo because back when we had a cable box and I watched anything on demand I was subjected to previews of God is (not) Dead (and jfc there are three of those now) but I’ve not boycotted movies that the execrable James Woods has been in.

I’m wondering how ‘rational’ this behavior is, because I know Home Depot or Wal Mart doesn’t care if MrGrumpy doesn’t shop at their stores. On the other hand, sometimes voting with your wallet is the only recourse. On the third hand, what’s the point if my behavior and decisions are not consistent?

("*Edit. Here’s a sampling. It’s impossible not to conclude from those that Vavre is an alt right dick.)

If you are going to make a political stand with your wallet, you need to do more than just not play a game, or not shop at a store.

Doing that doesn’t really have any real impact, because there’s no linkage of your action to theirs. There’s no real mechanism by which your act will influence their future behavior.

You need to actually organize a publicized boycott. You need to get lots of people to all say, in a public manner, that they are not doing X because of the actions taken by entity Y.

This kind of economic activity can have tangible results. We’ve seen it in recent days with a bunch of advertisers abandoning Tucker Carlson, to the extent that he’s running less commercials now, and that means Fox is definitely losing millions of dollars as a result.

If there is some Thing out there that I know I will enjoy be it movie, book, or game and I don’t get it to snub one of the creators whom I may not like I would feel like I am only really punishing myself. Life’s too short.

This is true, but what about personal ethics? I.e., I feel this way, I know that behavior x isn’t going to change but I still don’t want to support it, even if indirectly.

That’s a perfectly moral position to take, imo.

It is best to simply not give a crap about the personal beliefs of actors, directors, store CEO’s or advertising executives. Trying to lead your life based on what they think is a pretty crazy way of doing things.

I draw a distinction between people who just have different views to me (which is fine) versus people who seem to be actively campaigning to do bad things.
Like for example, I wont bank at high street banks because of how they treat people in debt, I wont use certain airlines because of bad shit they do, but I really dont care when I buy a game or watch a movie if the creators were republican/democrat/whatever.

Its an endless war otherwise. For all you know the last guy who checked the tyre pressure on your car at the garage is a white supermacist, do you really need to investigate stuff to that level of detail?

What you are doing makes perfect sense to me.

The best place to fight about laws and government policy and so on is within the political system. I’m not going to be voting for people who want to bend the tax system further in favor of the wealthy.

But the best place to fight about culture and norms of human behavior is in the marketplace. A local store owner has a sign up making it clear that he would approve of shooting some kid dead over shoplifting, and my beef is not with the laws in this area, it is with him as a disgusting human being. So I don’t shop there.

The owner of a farm market down the road did everything in her power to help me distribute free food to hungry kids, so I think she is a wonderful human being, so I always go over there and buy everything possible before I go grocery shopping at the supermarket.

The only difference when it comes to national companies and famous people is that we are always seeing them through the distorting lens of their PR people. But even then, just the fact that someone or some company is making an effort to be perceived in a given way, that’s a cultural force quite apart from how they secretly think or act, so it still strikes me as the right way to “vote” on culture. Of course, it isn’t overwhelmingly effective, but it shouldn’t be. I am just one of 300 million American citizens.

It’s not just an economic issue of whether a personal boycott has any impact. Another consideration is how the art is influenced by the artist. Vavre is the creative director for Kingdom Come, and I have to imagine his views might have resulted in some problematic content (with the cover of “historical accuracy” to offset any complaints of bigotry). I was watching the game with interest through development because it’s right up my alley, but I checked out when I heard some discussions around his re-tweets. I decided that the game wouldn’t be worth the trouble of separating the art from the artist. Maybe there are issues with the actual content. Maybe not. In the meanwhile, I’ve got other games to play that don’t force me to view things through that critical filter.

On the other hand, I’ll watch a show with Adam Baldwin, because I know he didn’t have much influence on the content and themes of the end-product. Not dissimilar from what my reaction would have been if a 3d artist or voice actor who worked on Kingdom Come was identified as a raging alt-right.

I mean, this just feels like something NO ONE should feel good about drawing a definite line in the sand on. For instance, I get creeped out by Woody Allen anything, based on his prior conduct. Same in a lot of ways for Roman Polanski movies.

But that’s a dangerous line to draw, because if you want to draw it fully and completely, you’re also saying: “I won’t ever listen to 90% of the rock and roll music created in the 1970s.” And I know personally that I’m not willing to stand on that principle to that extent.

What about Cleve? He gets a pass?

I will admit to no longer having any desire to listen to any of my old Bill Cosby albums. My kids grew up listening to them, as I did, and they feel the same.

It’s not about them really, rather it’s whether I think something is or isn’t moral or ethical (might be a product of being raised Catholic, dunno.) Take for example veal and lamb. I don’t begrudge anyone eating those meats, but I can’t bring myself to do that because from my perspective that’s Alien level cruelty. My decision won’t ever save even one lamb or calf, but morally I just can’t eat something that’s been effectively tortured.

I think it probably ends up being what an individual is comfortable with? To me it’s an interesting question, and I know I’m not at all consistent applying it. But (again, recovering Catholic) it makes me feel guilty.

It does in small ways. For every person that doesn’t eat them for that reason, there is less demand, so they don’t need to raise as many, even if you don’t have a parade about the fact that you’re doing it.

Of course with media/entertainment it’s going to be different. There are a lot more factors involved and just because Person X is involved with something, it doesn’t mean the people at the top realize that say a million people didn’t watch The Movie/buy The Game because of that person. There could be dozens of other reasons. Supply and Demand are a lot more nebulous with art.

I think there’s a line to be drawn between the product/service and how strongly the individual whom you object to is tied to that product.

The rule of thumb I find myself using is doing a mental exercise to see if replacing that person with generic person x would result in a significant change in the final product to impact my interest. If the answer is yes, then it’s probably something I want to avoid if I have strong objections about their beliefs/behaviors.

I’m not a damn lawyer. If someone tied to the product is enough of an asshole in public, I try to avoid it. Or if companies are specifically, intentionally evil (Wal-Mart, and I’m slowly divorcing myself from Amazon). Or if their marketing pisses me off badly enough (Apple).

It’s not an exact science, and I don’t expect it to change the world. It just helps me sleep a little better. It’s not freaking rocket surgery, sheesh.

This is my general attitude too.

I have no problem watching Rosemary’s Baby. Even though Polanski creeps me out; he’s probably not getting much of my money and even if he is, there’s little chance that he’ll use that money on something I directly disapprove of.

However, I’m not going to buy another book by Orson Scott Card (much as I enjoy his work), because he’s out there spreading hateful ideas to whomever he can get to listen. There is a very good chance that my handing him money will make some LGBT teen’s life harder, and I don’t want that on my conscience.

I don’t think it’s necessary to be absolutely consistent when choosing how to react.

Say for instance you did a good deed, like help a stranger in need. You are not suddenly obligated to help all strangers in need. Just helping one person by itself is already a net positive and you can quit after that if you like.

Similarly, if you want to boycott this one game to send a signal to developers, go ahead. You are not obligated to ever boycott anyone again, even in the exact same circumstances. Just this one boycott is helpful even by itself.

Consistency would be valuable if you made yourself into a leader or role model, because it might help others to internalize your example. But it doesn’t sound like you want to go that route.

Given the campaign against Kingdom Come, any actual issues with the game content would definitely have made the news.