The problem with this is if the fan following is based more on identification than admiration of talent. The reason this is a problem is because, sooner or later, the object of admiration will do or say something the fan wouldn't do or disagrees with. The fan will then freak, viewing it as a betrayal. Between familiarity and projection, the object of admiration is suddenly alien, something the fan never saw coming. Being vocal and honest isn't protection against this, either. I get occasional disagreements over Stress Puppy, but so far nothing that makes the fans drop the strip. I'm not sure if it's because I haven't done anything truly polarizing like Prickly City, Mallard Filmore, The Boondocks, or other topical strips have, but I just know that, some day, it's going to happen to me.
At that point, the work can still be enjoyed. Maybe. It really depends on the individual. Personal example: I love J. Michael Straczynski's writing. He wrote fantastic stories for The Real Ghostbusters and actually made Captain Power interesting viewing. Babylon 5 was a masterpiece of episodic writing and pushing the limits of low budget production and design (part of what made the Shadows so effective was, unlike Star Trek, there was nothing remotely human about them). But it was after talking with some contacts out in Hollywood that I started learning the guy was not exactly the kind of person I would want to hang with. Time has proven that correct, with him recently doing an interview about the new direction he was taking Wonder Woman in and basically shitting on everyone who had worked on the comic previously. In Superman, he's doing his walkabout theme, where Supes walks across the country without using his powers on a personal vision quest (which he also did with Dr. Franklin on Bab5). He loudly declares his genius while being dismissive of anyone else who came before him. Now, I still love Bab5 and will forever regard it as a classic. But there's a reason why, when Crusade got the thumb early, I smiled with grim satisfaction.
However, there can eventually be a point where this is impossible, when the identity of the artist is so intertwined with what they do, the art cannot be enjoyed anymore because awareness of who the fan is supporting intrudes. Barbra Striessand is one example. She went from someone with good comedic chops (I still think For Pete's Sake is a hoot) to a hilariously narcissistic arbiter of what constitutes good art and good political thought (this started long before the Clinton era, probably reaching its nadir in A Star Is Born, where her character wins over a concert full of rockers with her shlocky MOR ballad). Identification (or rejection) is all that is left.
So, having sufficiently buried my lead, can this PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, BE THE END OF MEL GIBSON'S STUPIDITY?!?
Back in 2006, Mel Gibson was viewed by people as a cool dude or a manly man and everyone wanted to be his buddy. Then, he got pulled over for drunk driving, opened his fool mouth, and people learned of the ugly going straight to his bones. Recorded saying, "Fucking Jews... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," and asking a female officer, "What are you looking at, sugar tits?", Gibson saw his public stock drop faster than Enron's. Then, he dumped his wife of 27 years and mother of his seven children for his extramarital sweetie, Oksana Grigorieva, who he had knocked up, despite his bragging that he was a great Christian man who committed adultery and got his daddy to annul his marriage. Gibson then tried to get on the comeback trail. He appeared on The Tonight Show to talk about his soon-to-be new wife and upcoming eighth kid. He made a movie called Edge Of Reason that didn't do well, but at least it didn't totally bomb out. Gibson and Grigorieva broke up, and Gibson started making overtures to get back together with his first wife. Gibson's old friend Jodi Foster cast him in her upcoming movie The Beaver to help with his Rocky-like redemption.
Gibson and Grigorieva have been locked in a fierce legal battle concerning settlements for their romance. Both have sought restraining orders against each other. Their lawyers have been locked in private discussions, refusing to let the public in on what the fighting is over.
Well, a tape got leaked. It has been confirmed genuine. Gibson is heard on it going Alec Baldwin on Grigorieva. He tells her at one point when they are about to go out, "You look like a fucking pig in heat, and if you get raped by a pack of n***ers, it will be your fault." He told her, "I am going to come and burn the fucking house down... but you will blow me first." He calls her "bitch" and "cunt" and says, "How dare you act like such a bitch when I have been so fucking nice." Now, whatever you may think of Grigorieva, whether she got sucker punched by love or if she was just a social climber, NO ONE deserves that kind of treatment.
Reading the transcript, my eyebrows arched. This is pretty damning stuff. Then I wondered, where did this tape come from? If this had been in public, the news would have been on it like white on rice. It had to be private, and the only common denominators are Gibson and...Grigorieva. She claims she made the recordings so she could show Gibson what a monster he was becoming and hopefully snap him out of it. That's her story and she's sticking with it.
So, is this further proof that she set him up? I don't know. Heaven knows my opinion of her has been less than charitable since the affair became public. All I know is, Gibson's own vanity has caused his own downfall. Entitlement is an ugly thing, especially when you think you are so wonderful, no one you bring into your inner circle would dare betray you because of how awesome you are.
Mel Gibson, your shipment of FAIL has arrived. And may I never hear "St. Mel" ever again.