Art and Artist
Suffice it to say that in the wake of the daily (nay, hourly!) updates to the abysmal disgusting pig pivot table of deplorable famous sex criminals, I’m feeling solidly Team Elrond right now.
We are the worst.
My apologies for sullying the ethereal refuge of Rivendell with non-Middle Earth problems, but that elvish cynicism has been ricocheting around in my gourd since the Weinstein scandal began quaking through Hollywood leaving numerous gilded idols wobbling on their plinths.
As was expected, rippling out from the deluge of scandals, the decades old allegations against Woody Allen have once again resurfaced, notably because his son Ronan Farrow was the journalist behind the shattering New Yorker investigation into Weinstein’s behavior and industry/media cover-ups.
And each time we hem and haw about whether Woody Allen sexually assaulted his ex-wife’s daughter (given his behavior with his adopted daughter, this doesn’t seem beyond him), Allen devotees and haters wax philosophic on whether one can separate art from artist.
This question coming of course because the artist, who may or may not have been a sexual predator, has made some influential pieces of art that have a) made the artist famous and a household name and b) inspired a sufficient arbitrary quantity of potential successors.
The devotees can’t stomach punching holes in the canon. The haters never liked Annie Hall anyway.
I find myself imprisoned somewhere in the middle. It’s not that I now hate The Usual Suspects or L.A. Confidential. But I can’t get lost in them anymore either. Because any time Kevin Spacey is on screen now I think of poor fourteen year old Anthony Rapp.
I mean… Can any of you just sit down and watch The Cosby Show?
I can’t enjoy Tootsie anymore. I can’t rationalize into acceptable behavior or even method-acting-preparatory-lunacy the way Dustin Hoffman spoke to female crew members on the set of Death of a Salesman.
The question of whether we can separate art from artist is irrelevant for me because I lack the ability to choose. The choice is made for me. It’s like asking if I can separate flour from cake. I can’t! It’s in there. It’s an essential component. And shut your flourless pie holes, gluten-free hippies. Cake without gluten is a protein bar!
But I digress.
Maybe it’s because I trained as an actor and I know that any actor worth their salt brings all of themselves to the performance. You can’t fake vulnerability. Which means, if there’s a sexual predator in Woody Allen, then there’s a sexual predator in Annie Hall and every other story he told. There’s a sexual predator in the Huxtable home. There are sexual predators with Academy Awards. There are sexual predators in films and shows whose central themes are feminist sexual ethics!
Think of the most seemingly impulsive disgustingly sexual things Louis C.K. (who I loved) brought to his routines, which I initially winced at and passed off as him pushing the envelope, and then think of the horrible things he did to those women. And then do your best to separate the art from the artist.
If like me, you can’t… consider this:
Maybe we don’t need their art. Maybe we don’t need to defend it. And shouldn’t.
Maybe without Weinstein, Spacey, Allen, Cosby, Louis, Hoffman, Toback, Affleck, and many many (refreshes CNN page) others – great stories would have been and will still be told. Great filmmakers would have filled and still will fill those shoes. Wonderful talent would have and still will take the stage and fill the screen.
As their stars fall, others will rise.
Hopefully ones that keep their damn hands and comments to themselves.
But hope is Gandalf’s prerogative.
I’m still with Elrond.
Men are weak.