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The Cancel Culture and its Effects on Autograph Collecting

I am wondering how - if at all - any of you may have been affected by the ever-increasing "cancellation" of celebrities in respect of their presence in your collections.

Has anyone "thrown out" (or felt compelled to do so) their Kevin Spaceys, Harvey Weinsteins, Will Smiths etc.

Not just Hollywood, of course, loads of other celebs in the entertainment fields. Also historical figures - it feels like each new day brings some new revelation about somebody which affects their reputation very negatively.

As a collector, how do you deal with this? Is it even relevant?

I am, myself, conflicted about the issue. It is on my mind because in the last week or so I have acquired a couple of items about which I was initially excited/very pleased to get, One, a very early book by a contemporary writer whose work I had admired many years ago but whose progress I hadn't really bothered to follow with much dedication. Turns out this author's reputation was pretty much killed by a sex scandal in the 1990's, It came as a surprise to me - if I had been able to find a bibliography for him other than Wikipedia I would be none the wiser. But I am affected now by this knowledge - in a negative way.

The second thing, an art piece, early 20th Century. Now I should have known about this fellow's reputation but I didn't - my bad. But - what an absolute creep. I can't enjoy looking at this picture knowing what I know now. I feel like burning it, tbh (yes, it's that bad!).

No answers here, only questions.

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There are plenty I wont buy for sure. But if I already owned, Id probably sell if they landed on my “super cant stand” list.

And that list gets longer every day, lol.

There are certain artists Ive seen multiple times over the years and bought every release, reissue, box set, etc. that I’ll never spend another dime on.

Interesting topic. So far I have not purchased an autograph when I later found out the signer had a negative reputation. I also have not yet had the misfortune of an already owned autograph’s signer gain a negative reputation later on. If this did occur it would depend on who it was and what they did. 

Most of the people in my collection are not saints (except Mother Teresa ;) ).  I suppose I might get so disgusted with someone that I mught not seek out their autograph, but I certainly would never throw any out.

I picked up a Bill Cosby signed magazine for $5 bundled with a few other items early this year. If people want to "cancel" I dont mind. Ill pick up items they don't want at a good price. I dont see how my purchase on the secondary market would contribute to the celebrity much at all aside from showing there is still a very slight interest out there.

Regardless of what Bill did in real life, it doesn't take away from my childhood experiences watching his entertainment. I can differentiate the 2. Whats funny is how people collect serial killers. John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, etc... they are known strictly for their crimes. (Gacy may be a bad example because Pogo and Patches the clown, but you get my point) 

Its really a personal choice how you chose to view your items. You could say that artistic minds work on a different level and there work may not have been possible without their specific brain chemistry and life experiences which led them on their path. 

Another way to look at it, you cant change history. Whats done is done. These items could still serve a purpose as a reminder for our children that these people existed. Would you destroy a Hitler autograph? I honestly wouldn't blame anyone for feeling that way, but it serves no purpose aside from a symbolic act. We can never forget that era. Especially since history has a way of repeating itself. Its more important to embrace the worlds history, good and bad, big or small. 

If there isn't a way for you to change your feelings, its probably best for you to sell them off to someone who would appreciate them and rid yourself of the mental burden. If your disgust runs that deep for them. I really doubt anyone on here would be able to change your mind, and that is absolutely ok. 

"...You could say that artistic minds work on a different level and there work may not have been possible without their specific brain chemistry and life experiences which led them on their path..."


I'm not sure if what you have in mind is so much cancellation (which tends to relate to a celebrity's unpopular opinions, off-putting behaviors limited allegations, etc - often relatively minor stuff that in itself doesn't necessarily destroy a career though may lose the person some fans). Of the names mentioned above, Will Smith seems closest to that category. In the whole scope of things, I don't think that rocks autograph prices and desirability quite so much - generally speaking.

Otherwise if you're talking about outright criminal behavior, as in the case with Weinstein, that's not an especially new phenomenon. Since the beginning of the entertainment business, poor behavioral and moral choices/actions - or outright despicable acts - have destroyed careers. Perhaps, if anything, it's harder to get away with today than decades ago.

From a purely financial standpoint, the celebrities that get canceled tend to have autographs that appreciate at a faster rate, as they usually aren't making themselves available for autographs. (The corollary is if they were already a generous signer and their stuff has already flooded the market.) Some of those parties end up locked up permanently, thereby making their signatures the "wrong" sort of collectible, depending on who you ask.

One book I reference to my friend as something to avoid (I specifically refer to it as [a certain German dictator's book] for Canadian culture) is former journalist Jian Ghomeshi's 1982, a book that is frequently found signed in bookstores. I've come across a half-dozen or so signed copies, and owned one myself for a time because of the "bile fascination" of the whole thing.

It's not a particularly well-written book, and it would have been consigned to dustbins were it not for the fact that Ghomeshi, even though he was acquitted at a trial, has the public reputation of being a sexual deviant at best, and an outright serial predator at worst. Every copy he signed calls into question who he signed it for (there is significant documentation out there about him meeting women at book signings, seducing them and performing unsolicited deviant acts at his home). There is likely no way he will ever find his way back into the Canaidan pop culture scene again, and his book is a sort of awful footnote to the whole situation.

How many people threw out their Joan Crawford's when Mommy Dearest came out? We know now that book was not quite accurate, everyone I knew that knew her said pretty much the same. But at the time it was believed by many.  Richard Burton's activities at 25 would get him arrested today - but he also seems untouched. Howard Hughes as well.

Picasso would probably be cancelled today if he were alive. His reputation gets worse every day but those prices keep rising!

I had an OJ Simpson autograph. After the murders, I gave that signed 8x10 as a gift to a buddy who is from Buffalo and loves the Bills. Speaking of Bill's -- I had Bill Cosby on an album. Got it with a collection of signed albums relatively cheap (for entire collection). I had that he did all that, and yes, as a kid I had all his albums and loved them. I'd definitely get rid of it (but not dirt cheap).

Lastly, I LITERALLY got Will Smith, a few weeks before the Oscar slap. He was so nice (although, I was also nice enough to keep his wifes name, outta my damn mouth!). But, what he did wasn't bad enough for him to be "cancelled."

Funny thing was -- I ran into Mel Gibson at an event. I HATE that guy, for all the various things he's done (off screen), but it just so happened we were waiting at valet for our cars at the same time. I asked him for his autograph and he said no. I seriously wanted to laugh and say, "Dude, I so didn't even want to ask you, because you're a scumbag. You need to have your image improved, and you're saying no to signing an autograph?" Instead I just said "Okay"

That is funny - about Mel Gibson.

A few years ago we went on holiday to the Scottish Highlands and rented a nice cottage by the sea-shore on the West Coast. It was a nice house indeed but not a mansion or anything. Beautiful setting, though.

I was leafing through the visitors book and reading the reviews - all very complimentary. And guess whose name pops up - MG himself, all the details, home address and everything. And a big autograph as a flourish.

I calculated that it was maybe from around the time that he would have been filming Braveheart.

I dunno if his reputation was soiled back then or not but if that page is no longer in that book it's got nothing to do with me.

Here's my autograph of Charlie Chaplin.  He was vilified by the press and tragically cancelled by both the entertainment industry and some political elements within the U.S. government during his lifetime (leading to his exile in Switzerland).  



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