‘Your Fave Is Problematic’: How to Love Problematic Things (Or Can We?)

Last Tuesday morning I announced to my Facebook friends that I would be going to see John Mayer in concert and that I was excited. Instead of my friends joining in my excitement, I got reposes like: “You know John Mayer hates black people” and “well his penis does”.

The “killjoy” has arrived.

by Bianca Clendenin

by Bianca Clendenin

These comments and others are just some of the responses I got when I first announced I bought these tickets back in September on Tumblr. All my fierce black revolutionary social justice tumblrs were like, don’t know the terrible things he has said and done?

Of course I do. Of course I’m aware of John Mayer’s problematic comments. For one, I am fan, and two I’m not oblivious to his comments. For anyone who isn’t aware of the comments I’m talking about, his comments on the his racial preference when it comes to the opposite sex.

As a young black woman, I was disgusted. Though these were jokes, there is still this gross underlining racism that is still entangled in people who have “racial preferences” when it comes to dating. Right now these comments are almost 4 years old, and anyone who was following pop culture at the time knew that John Mayer was a PR disaster. Everything out of his mouth was just terrible. His personal life was messy, and as public figure it was for the world to pick and prod. This could lead anyone to have word diarrhea. Unlike you and me, we don’t always get publicly outed and shamed for are comments. Unless your comments go viral, like Justine Sacco racist tweet that took the world by storm almost two weeks ago. Thanks to social media, it’s easier to be dragged out online and for the world to see. You may even lose your job over things you post on the social media. Just ask Justine Sacco.

Now I’m not excusing for his comments or his past behavior. As a fan I’m aware and always conflicted. When our “favs” do something problematic or we supposed to stop supporting them or do we acknowledge that these people are just as flawed as us?

No one can really answer this question. I think of this Tumblr blog called, Your Fave is Problematic. A blog that calls out celebrities and lists everything wrong they’ve ever done (or at least what they’ve had done in the public eye). Blogs like this are educational because one, people can learn that the celebrities they look up are not God and that they are flawed just like you and me. And it makes you think twice about the people you idolize.

However one my biggest problems with blogs like this, is that now that you know everything wrong “you fave” has done. Now what? Your Fave tries to answer this question(s):

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 10.36.25 AM

So according to this, I can still like John Mayer, but I can’t come up with excuses for his behavior and as real fan I need to educate other fans on his behavior. Check, plus check.

Here is list of celebrities created by Your Fave is Problematic.

My second question however is, when does it become unforgiving to like something or someone?

I think of two major celebrities that have been in the news or blogosphere lately. R.Kelly’s alleged exploits of being a sexual predator on teenager girls, was all over the news again. At first it was a bit weird that people were surprised of all the allegations he had against him. This is the same man who was married to singer Aaliyah when she was only 15. It’s interesting how casually folks still bring this tad bit of information up, but people rarely question that this was a predatory move.

The general public tends to have a short term memory when it comes to our celebrities, especially when it comes to the abuse of women. For the first time in years R. Kelly is getting mainstream success, thanks for his collaboration with pop start Lady Gaga and his buzzworthy new album ‘Black Panties’. He’s hot right now. Now we can’t deny that talent of R. Kelly, but is his alleged abuse of young black teenage girls enough to ignore because he is talented? Do we give him a pass and still support his music?

I ask the same about Ani Difranco. A popular singer songwriter whose music is seen as bible for many young queer feminists. In high school I was obsessed with her music, especially when I went through my acoustic guitar phase. Difranco and her fans are in hot water, after she announced on her Facebook page that she will be hosting her Righteous Retreat Song Camp next year at the Nottoway Plantation in Louisiana. Considered a feminist songwriting retreat, it frustrating to see another blatant example of “white feminism” excluding the intersectionally of what true feminism is about.

Yesterday, the controversy took to Facebook, as fans debated over the location of the event. Even one alleged fan defending the location. There’s even allegations of a fan creating a fake account and posing as a black woman who agrees with the supporters of the location. From what I’ve read so far, there are a lot of messy allegations, but at the root of it all are that many people are upset with the choice of the venue. It has also bought to light the contemporary history of plantations being used as hotels and whether this is racially insensitive.

Ani Difranco has yet to issue statement, but it makes me wonder what will be her excuse that she or her organizers thought it was ok to have this suppose feminist gathering at a former slave plantation?

Here is another person I liked and at one point looked up too, and here they are doing something that I definitely don’t agree with.

But as a fan, we acknowledge that the entertainers we like can and will be problematic. No one you truly like, love, or stan for will be perfect. Even Beyoncé has her slip ups. If we stopped liking every problematic thing, there would be nothing to like.

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