Being sentient humans, we all have views. Being individuals, the whole of our views are quite likely unique. Being writers, we can (and should) explore those views. But being authors, we should carefully weigh the costs of expressing our views outside of our fiction.
I not only expect a politician to spout their beliefs at every opportunity, I want them to do so. How can I make an informed decision about which candidates best represent my views otherwise? I want candidates to fully and plainly lay out for me what they believe and why. I neither need nor want to know the political views of others.
I want to watch athletes run, pass, dribble, swing and score. I want to hear musicians play. I want to behold the artistry of dancers. I want to appreciate the beauty painters and sculptors create. I want to laugh with comics, cry with actors and be riveted by authors' skill.
Basically, I want to be entertained, not educated or persuaded, by entertainers. I don't want them to woo me or shoo me. Society is already replete with experts in religion, science, sociology, politics, philosophy, ethics, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights and pretty much anything else you can imagine.
It's not necessarily a good thing that I know your views on things like politics, religion or philosophy--even if I agree with them. Why? Because if I agree with you then someone else doesn't. And while I may be able to separate the art from the artist, there are many who can't--or won't!
Remember Sinéad O'Connor ripping that picture of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live? Did she believe in what she was doing? Undoubtedly. Did she pay a heavy price for it? Definitely.
How about the Dixie Chicks lamenting the fact that then President Bush was from Texas? Can you say "career killer" in as few words?
What about Jane Fonda? Till the day he died, my father remembered her only as Hanoi Jane. And he never watched 9 to 5 because she starred in it.
I have as many viewpoints on as many topics as anyone else. I'm
quite passionate about a few of them too. And yes, I do express them,
but in the right place at the right time and in the right way. (Or so I
hope.) I don't do it here. This is a blog about writing, about becoming an author, and about finding success in that pursuit.
What I mean to say is that holding views--even being passionate about those views--is fine. It's normal. It's good! But when your goal is to market and promote your product or yourself to the general public, do your best to separate your views from your brand.
There are already plenty of reasons people won't buy or read what you write. Why add more to the list?
My name is Jeff. And I approved this message.
Tell me your thoughts. Flip side? Can your brand be too pure?