Can we separate artists from their art? The #metoo campaign has rocked the celebrity world. It seems every few days we hear about another famous man who has been accused of sexual harassment of some kind. It has become predictable and yet shocking at the same time. Think about the many famous men who are womanizers, from rock stars like Mick Jagger to actors like Jack Nicholson, these men are famous for relationships and dalliances they have had.
I am not at all accusing either one of them of harassment, merely mentioning that playing the field is somehow something to be proud of for men. The fall of so many men in the current climate continues to make headlines. For most of us who grew up in the 1970s, 1980s, and the 1990s, Bill Cosby was a hero. It is so hard to imagine this funny, father-like, charming hero (allegedly) giving young women drugs and then having his way with them. It is actually so shocking and yet around forty women have now said that he did this.
Kevin Spacey is a brilliant actor and yet now after allegations of being a sexual predator, a terrible shadow has been cast over him too. He certainly did himself no favors by coming out as part of his explanation - the horrible implication was that gay people harass young boys - big mistake. I have enjoyed many of his films, so what am I supposed to do now?
Roman Polanski is a talented filmmaker and yet nobody can defend what he was alleged to have done.
Can we separate art from the artist?
How about the current trend of relitigating things from the past? Look at the mess that is the Woody Allen and Dylan Farrow story that has reared its ugly head again, decades later. Many stars who have appeared in his films are now being asked to denounce him. I have no idea whether he abused his daughter, but isn't that a separate issue to whether I like his writing and filmmaking or not? Is an artist's work suddenly not good because an accusation has been thrown? A new development is that everyone seems to think that if someone is accused they are guilty. But what of Moses Farrow - Dylan's brother who said a few years ago that Mia Farrow did coach Dylan to say she was abused? He claims that Mia convinced them all to hate Woody Allen after he fell for Soon Yi? Are we to not believe him? It is very difficult when it is one person's word against another's. It is also what a court of law is for.
Imagine admiring a painting - you don't know who painted in. Now imagine you are told it was painted by Adolf Hitler. Suddenly the painting takes on a whole new meaning. In this way, it is hard to separate the art from its creator. Now imagine we found some evidence of William Shakespeare being a rapist, would we then burn his works because the man who had created such universal beauty was also a criminal?
These are all interesting questions and it seems more and more that we cannot separate the art from the creator. Harvey Weinstein was the catalyst of the dominos falling and who knows how far it will go?