Recently, there have been reports of die-hard fans of a certain vampire-love-story property (rhymes with “Fry-Might”) being upset that the lead actress cheated in her real-life relationship with the lead actor.  While I don’t necessarily sympathize with someone who starts an affair out of boredom, I am a bit bemused to see fans reacting as if her character had betrayed his, or that because they played a perfect couple in the movies that they must be a perfect couple in real-life.  I’m reminded somewhat of my own love/hate relationship with the works of Dave Sim, a fascinating writer whose opinions and observations I wholeheartedly disagree with.  It makes for an interesting guilty twinge when I read my Cerebus trades or the monthly issue of Glamourpuss…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) would follow Samuel L. Jackson pretty much anywhere, but he’s then again, he’s motha-&%@$in’ Samuel L. Jackson, asking:  Is it ever hard to separate an actor/creator from their character/work?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. July 27, 2012 at 12:27 pm — Reply

    Isn’t that question at the heart of the concept of the True Fan Boy? People who love a creator/artist/actor so much that they can’t find fault with anything they do? And then when they do disappoint it shatters their world?

    • July 27, 2012 at 12:51 pm — Reply

      Is it? I sometimes wonder if those type of Fan Boys (aside from the extreme examples that are often overhyped) actually exist. If Joe Steel, artist of Turnip-Man was revealed to be a serial philatelist tomorrow, I could still enjoy the book.

      • Slappy
        July 27, 2012 at 1:18 pm — Reply

        My Daddy is a philatelist. 40 years in the post office will do that to you.

        • Georgedubya
          July 27, 2012 at 1:58 pm — Reply

          I practiced philately when I was young. I grew out of it though.

  2. Navarre
    July 27, 2012 at 12:58 pm — Reply

    I think some actors are so closely related to their character that one can’t see the actor without thinking of the character. William Shatner and Sarah Michelle Gellar come to mind for me.

    But I don’t confuse one with the other. I don’t hold William Shatner’s actions as those of Captain Kirk’s nor a reflection on the character. But I think it says a lot that the actor has given us a character so memorable.

    Joss Whedon is infallible, by the way. Even his worst work is awesome.

    But, even with Joss, I hold his work separate from the person. If I found out Joss was a philatelist, I would still enjoy Buffy/Angel/Firefly/etc just as much.

  3. Rome
    July 27, 2012 at 1:00 pm — Reply

    It is hard to separate artists from their work.

    For example: Tom Cruise has done so many movies that he is really no longer acting… he is just playing Tom Cruise in a new situation. He’s a jerk-like character in so many films, and his real life seems to mirror that so well that it is hard to separate his characterS from his character.

    Does it mean that Top Gun has less value as a film… No. But if you don’t want to go watch Mission Impossible VII because of his serial divorces or insane rants then I can’t fault you for that either.

    I think the same applies to comic writers and artists.

  4. Slappy
    July 27, 2012 at 1:16 pm — Reply

    Best example to mind comes from the Opera world. Richard Wagner (1813-1883) was a brilliant composer who completely changed music very much in the same way Beethovan did and Lucas changed Sci-Fi movies. Today if you watch anything using the music of John Williams, Elmer Bernstein or even Hans Zimmer, you will hear the influence of this master.

    Aside from being a self aught musical genius, Wagner was a bastard of a man, he lied, cheated, borrowed money for a lavish lifestyle and ran when the credit ran out. He was extremely anti semitic, and displayed this in some of his “Music Dramas” (What he called his operas). His music was beloved of Hitler over all other music. The monster saw himself as a character in one of the operas written saving germany as Rienzi saved Rome.
    Due to his writings and positions, Israel will not allow the playing of his music unofficially to this day.
    This man is still deemed an evil monster in many circles while his body of work is as important to music as the internet is to advancing communication throughout the world.

  5. B.V.K.
    July 27, 2012 at 4:02 pm — Reply

    I would think it would be harder for an actor to try and seperate from an iconic role (Mark Hamill, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy) than the other way around. As for me I can seperate an artist from their charecter, I don’t think of Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. What I don’t usually seperate is the political/religious/social statements that an artist makes in their particualr medium with their charecters. So if Hugh Jackson came out as Wolverine in a political ad for candidate “X” then I wouldn’t think of Wolverine as a supporter of that candidate but Hugh Jackson is and there is no seperation there for me.

  6. Oldcomicfan
    July 27, 2012 at 6:47 pm — Reply

    I’ve never had trouble separating an artist or writer from the work they produce. For those who can’t, I know of some gentlemen with comfortable sofas who are willing to listen to you rant at an hourly rate.

    • July 28, 2012 at 8:07 am — Reply

      Seconding this. This particular “scandal” has made it clear that there are way, way too many adults incapable of telling fantasy from reality.

  7. July 28, 2012 at 11:36 am — Reply

    It can be. I can’t watch David Tennant in something and not wonder where in the Doctor Who chronology this story takes place.

  8. Gordon T
    July 29, 2012 at 11:32 am — Reply

    The only time I can remember having trouble separating an actor from his character was with Paul Reubens when he caught in a certain movie theater. My first thought was “That can be right, he’s Pee Wee Herman”, but then I remembered the first time I saw Pee Wee Herman was in a HBO comedy special. wasn’t so surprised then.

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