Trying to Separate the Scandalous Artist from the Art

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are aware of all of the turmoil in Hollywood over the last couple of years. From Weinstein to Spacey to Singer, it seems endless. I now find myself reluctant to watch films that I once loved, like Pay It Forward or The Usual Suspects or most things produced by The Weinstein Company. And, it got me thinking: it’s not fair to the hundreds of people who worked on these films who didn’t do anything wrong.

The entertainment industry is one where separating the bad person from their work is easier said than done. For instance, every time Kevin Spacey appears in a film, you can’t help but think of all the accusations against him. It makes you cringe. It does to me, at least. It makes me want to turn off the film that I am watching. But, Spacey isn’t the only person who worked on those films. Is it fair to blacklist all of his films because he did something unspeakable? It’s a fine line.

And that question is one that I have been going back and forth about for months now.

It’s not the same in other industries. For example, if a scientist who’s made great discoveries is later outed as a person who has done unspeakable things, that does not discredit their findings. In film, it seems the opposite is true. Once a person involved in making a film has a scandal of this nature, whether that person is an actor or director or producer, it becomes harder to detach them from their work. This, I think, is due to, not only the visual aspect of film, but also the underlying themes and messages those films may have. The most obvious example of this, I think, is in the film Manhattan, which is written by, directed by, and starring Woody Allen. Knowing what happens 16 years later, you can’t help but feel uneasy that Allen’s character, the 42 year old Isaac, is in a relationship with a 17 year old. That’s what I’m saying. The artist always leaks into the art. It’s hard to separate the two. And, if Allen or Spacey were the only ones involved in their films, then yes, by all means, cease and desist. But, other actors, writers, editors, directors, gaffers, composers, and so many more all contribute to those films. And they deserve to have their hard work viewed and appreciated.

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