Separating Art from the Artist
A Round Table Discussion with Constance Grady, Staff Writer at Vox, Reverend Brian Joyce, and Eric Miller.
A generation of us grew up on Michael Jackson music and The Cosby Show. The DNA of our sense of humor includes some Cosby and some Louis CK. How many Kevin Spacey or Harvey Weinstein or Bret Ratner films have we enjoyed? Or Woody Allen or Roman Polanski?
Italian painter Caravaggio murdered someone. Phil Spector did the same. John Wayne said some straight up horrifically racist stuff in a 1971 Playboy interview recently making it’s rounds – and it didn’t affect his culture status – or did it. Poet and author Rudyard Kipling wrote the Jungle Book, but fundraised for Reginald Dyer BECAUSE he committed a massacre of over 1000 Indian people – depicted in the movie Gandhi. How do we watch The Naked Gun without knowing what we know about OJ.
As the media and social media microscope grows and intensifies, we’re learning more and more about the bad deeds or darkest days or outright criminal villainy of some of these creative folks that have occupied and even shaped our culture and our lives, in our formative years, and sometimes for decades or lifetimes. Art is an escape in some ways and yet it’s increasingly tarnished or ruined – sexual harassment, homophobia, sexism, domestic abuse, pedophilia, racism, even rape and murder. Are they inseparable. Does the creation forever belong to the creator, for better or worse, or to the consumer of that art. It feels like a new question, it isn’t. But it is one we all must keep asking ourselves it seems, because the bar’s been raised and continues to rise. That’s a good thing – but can we separate the art from the artist?