Morning, all. If you’re joining this blog for the first time, welcome aboard. For those returning, welcome back. I’ll assume you’re here because of the paper article and skip the introductions. If you haven’t read my article in the paper Arrowhead, go read it and come back. If you’re confused as to what PressCheck is, click here for the first post, where I go into what this is and why it exists. With all those formalities out of the way, let’s jump in.
My paper article was meant to expose the debate about how much we are allowed to value the art made by artists with questionable backgrounds. In other words, I asked if we’re allowed to like movies made by the celebrities accused of sexual misconduct. I couldn’t come to a conclusion, because it wasn’t an opinion article, but I did try to give both sides of the argument. Now’s the time for my take.
I want to argue that art can be separated from its artist, but I can’t argue it like that. The ability to separate art from artist is based on personal taste. How much someone associates Rosemary’s Baby with Roman Polanski isn’t up to me, so I couldn’t use it as evidence. I instead want to argue this on the grounds of the power associated with both the art and the misconduct.
It is often true that films like Annie Hall, Rosemary’s Baby, and Se7en bestow or are born of the power that artists like Woody Allen, Roman Polanski and Kevin Spacey abused in their misconduct. However, that’s where the connection between the two effectively ends. The films couldn’t control what their creators did with their newfound influence. That responsibility lies entirely with the artists themselves. Nobody can make the argument that the movies made them do what they did, so why blame the movies for their own abhorrent decisions?
Many would argue that supporting these works of art supports the power and system that allowed such acts to take place, but that still places too much agency on the films themselves. In terms of the actions of the artist, I can pretty confidently paraphrase Shakespeare when I say that the fault, dear Brutus readers, lies not on our screens, but in our stars.
Except I can’t. Well, not in those terms. There’s an old rule in literary analysis that you shouldn’t attribute anything you find in a piece to the author of said piece. The attribution implies that the author intended to include all the connections and layers you’re unfolding, which is impossible to prove. However, I don’t abide by this rule in my criticism. I tend to give a lot of credit to the creators of the movies I like when I’m complimenting them. Is it hypocritical of me to conflate art and artist when complimenting, but distance them when criticizing the artist?
I don’t know. All I do know is that I don’t want to see the legacies of the movies I love tarnished by the reprehensible actions of their creators. I’ll see you in the news.