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Separation of the art from the artist (Good concept, dumb idea, or bit of both?)

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  • Diet Teridax
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    Okay, I finally give. I just saw a tweet on Twitter that kind of broke me. Someone quoted Cameron Esposito as saying that abusers cannot make great art. I can’t find the tweet again (honestly don’t really want to) but here are some more tweets she made about that claim.

    https://twitter.com/cameronesposito/status/926130363755302914

    This tweet specifically got to me, “Guess what I’m saying is: don’t hem & haw about seeing a new Woody Allen movie. Skip it. And catch that Ava DuVernay flick instead.”

    Woody Allen is deeply problematic even if you don’t believe he is a child molester. Still, Midnight In Paris is for my tastes a smarter scripted film that any Ava DuVernay has ever made.

    I’ve been extremely hesitant to comment on Goldderby forums and still might delete my entire account with this website. For now, please just call me “Diet Teridax” from now on, where I only comment on rare occasions on topics that I feel truly NEED to be commented on. The IMO awful Kavanaugh confirmation was one thing, but this is admittedly more personal. I’m done with this insane shit. I was against “separating the art from the artist” when I thought people could still recognize the reality that problematic people can still make amazing art. I believe Dylan Farrow’s allegations, that is my choice, but Annie Hall is still an influential classic film that arguably changed how people look at romantic comedies. Hitchcock was the definition of a creep towards poor Tippi Hedren, but he is one of the most aesthetically inspirational and multi-layered filmmakers in history, whom every well-informed cinephile owes a great debt to. Even with freaking Bill Cosby, Robert Culp didn’t rape anyone (that I’m aware of) so are we supposed to throw all of I Spy in the cultural toilet? That seems really extreme. What about all the actors and writers for The Cosby Show who didn’t hurt anyone?

    Next week I am looking forward to seeing The Old Man and the Gun. It stars Robert Redford in what he says will be his final acting role, but is also stars Sissy Spacek and Casey Affleck, the latter of which was accused of sexual harassment several years ago. I believe those women, but Spacek never sexually harassed anyone. This is such a nuanced thing that I don’t feel like people who hold Esposito’s point of view are getting the bigger picture that the shitty actions of powerful artist not only doesn’t mean they were never genuinely talented to begin with. I support accountability for the gross actions of all human beings, but we shouldn’t let those actions taint the work of those who are innocent who have taken part in a project with those people. Even as much as I’ve said about Polanski (lord knows I’ve said a TON) he has made some legit great films. Mel Gibson is an incredibly believable actor and he has a distinctly visceral look as a director. I won’t see any new Kevin Spacey or Roman Polanski films, yet I would watch the former’s older stuff and one of these days I keep telling myself to finally watch Rosemary’s Baby because of what a genre classic it is. I feel gross inside typing that, but I’m starting to finally realize due to the vitriol of those saying that ALL artists who have been abusers should have ALL their work thrown out (including those others who chose to work with them in those films or shows), more disturbingly that they were never talented to begin with, I’m finally just having enough of the rhetoric of that side, as well-intentioned as I know it is. Calling this a personal backlash to the general backlash against Hollywood hypocrisy in letting talented abusers thrive.

    I know I have written a lot, but now I want to turn this onto all of you on these forums. What are YOUR own thoughts on this. Has this concept of “seperating the art from the artist” been taken too far by the culture at large, not far enough since it is a good idea, or is there some wise middle ground? There is no wrong answer here, I’m open to any and all interpretations of this by this point. Everyone has their personal standards of what they will and will not put up with.

    Note to myself: Don’t ever feed the trolls. Don’t get involved in others drama. Don’t let myself be swayed by others predictions, trust my gut more often!

    Note to all others: If you don’t happen to like me, ignore me. It is that simple.

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    Liam McWhinney
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    I think is always so important to seperate the art from the artist. Very often, and I am in no way justifying Allen or anyone of the likes behaviour, artists that are highly successful have personal drama in their lives. I believe this is because their talent overwhelms them almost. They have utter control, craftsmanship and skill in particular area that in more personal, social areas (such as relationships) they lack understanding and an ability to hold it together.
    I never judge an artist’s work based on how they are. I base it strictly on the product of the art, and if I, in my opinion believe it be well-constructed.
    Artists are troubled people. They are often, the brilliant ones at least, severely challenged. Therefore, they use their art forms as a way to dissolve into another world (their own imaginations) and forget about their troubles.
    I truly believe, as much as a lot artists have committed acts that are indeed impactful to many, it is important to be empathetic towards these people and look at maybe why they are committing these acts, instead of simply the presence of the act.
    Art is a beautiful thing. These artists want to be loved, and deep down, they do it because they wanna be loved. The art is an extension of who they are, and usually, it is an extension of the best version of who they are. However, this opens up why it may hard to seperate the artist from the art being made.
    Very interesting topic indeed.

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    Diet Teridax
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    <p>I think is always so important to seperate the art from the artist. Very often, and I am in no way justifying Allen or anyone of the likes behaviour, artists that are highly successful have personal drama in their lives. I believe this is because their talent overwhelms them almost. They have utter control, craftsmanship and skill in particular area that in more personal, social areas (such as relationships) they lack understanding and an ability to hold it together.<br> I never judge an artist’s work based on how they are. I base it strictly on the product of the art, and if I, in my opinion believe it be well-constructed.<br> Artists are troubled people. They are often, the brilliant ones at least, severely challenged. Therefore, they use their art forms as a way to dissolve into another world (their own imaginations) and forget about their troubles.<br> I truly believe, as much as a lot artists have committed acts that are indeed impactful to many, it is important to be empathetic towards these people and look at maybe why they are committing these acts, instead of simply the presence of the act.<br> Art is a beautiful thing. These artists want to be loved, and deep down, they do it because they wanna be loved. The art is an extension of who they are, and usually, it is an extension of the best version of who they are. However, this opens up why it may hard to seperate the artist from the art being made.<br> Very interesting topic indeed. </p>

    I think this would be a very interesting topic as well, since much kind of art I would want to create in movies and television would be an extension of the worst parts of myself, a therapeutic purge of my inner demons and scars so to speak. I’m sure that was the case for Scorsese with many of his greatest films. Same with Tarantino. How sincere is the artist’s art if the extension of themselves is any kind of false representation of who they are? If it is later revealed to be false, then does the art itself become worthless, or are is there still some kind of moral or cultural value to it? So many deep questions arise from the “separation” concept alone.

    Note to myself: Don’t ever feed the trolls. Don’t get involved in others drama. Don’t let myself be swayed by others predictions, trust my gut more often!

    Note to all others: If you don’t happen to like me, ignore me. It is that simple.

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    Foolio
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    You can’t and shouldn’t try to separate the art from the artist. No art is born in a vacuum. An artist and everything that comes with them – their track record as a human being, the values they promote and the mindset they represent – is part of the art they create.

    I’m hesitant to comment on the tweet you talk about without reading it myself. Did the tweeter really imply that an artist who has lead a questionable personal life is incapable of creating good art? Or were they saying that if an artist has done unforgivable deeds, that ethically overpowers whatever good qualities their art may have and therefore makes the art unacceptable? The former implication is obviously totally insane – people who are utter assholes have created great art since the day art was born. The latter point of view, however, I can understand, even if I don’t really agree.

    Is it wrong to support art created by people who have done unforgivable things to others? As a basic guideline it’s easy to say yes, but in practice it’s hard to draw the line and the line is blurry. If it’s not okay to watch old Woody Allen films, is it also not okay to watch movies produced by Harvey Weinstein? If so, why? And as you said, what about the other artists who are also involved in making a movie? Do they deserve to be punished for choosing to work with predators (and have they actually knowingly chosen to) or do they deserve their films to be seen because it’s their art too and they’ve done nothing wrong?

    Personally, I have no problem watching classic movies made by people who have later turned out to be predators, power abusers and other types of wrongdoers – history cannot and shouldn’t be ignored, and to understand the art of cinema, one cannot ignore the works of Hitchcock, Polanski, Allen or even bloody Riefenstahl who was definitely on the side of the darkest of forces.

    That said, I wouldn’t watch a new Kevin Spacey or Woody Allen film, let alone a new Weinstein production – but would watch a film starring Casey Affleck or Asia Argento and have watched a film directed by and starring James Franco, even though I don’t doubt for one second that their accusers are telling the truth. I would also watch a film whose cinematographer or costume designer is a known predator. Why do I draw the line there? Don’t ask because I have no other answer than that the line has to be drawn somewhere.

    (For the record, I think the comparison between Woody Allen and Ava DuVernay is a bit of a case of apples and oranges. DuVernay is one of the most interesting filmmakers of her generation and Allen of his, but that aside they have absolutely nothing in common. If we must though: even if we pretend not to know anything about Allen’s dark side, he hasn’t directed anything nearly as good and unique as DuVernay since Midnight in Paris so yes, I would rather catch the new DuVernay than the new Allen, even if we’re “separating the art from the artist” and pretending to forget that we’re also making a political choice between supporting an old white male alleged child molester and a progressive liberal female African American auteur and everything that comes with that.)

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    Diet Teridax
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    <p>You can’t and shouldn’t try to separate the art from the artist. No art is born in a vacuum. An artist and everything that comes with them – their track record as a human being, the values they promote and the mindset they represent – is part of the art they create.</p> <p>I’m hesitant to comment on the tweet you talk about without reading it myself. Did the tweeter really imply that an artist who has lead a questionable personal life is incapable of creating good art? Or were they saying that if an artist has done unforgivable deeds, that ethically overpowers whatever good qualities their art may have and therefore makes the art unacceptable? The former implication is obviously totally insane – people who are utter assholes have created great art since the day art was born. The latter point of view, however, I can understand, even if I don’t really agree.</p> <p>Is it wrong to support art created by people who have done unforgivable things to others? As a basic guideline it’s easy to say yes, but in practice it’s hard to draw the line and the line is blurry. If it’s not okay to watch old Woody Allen films, is it also not okay to watch movies produced by Harvey Weinstein? If so, why? And as you said, what about the other artists who are also involved in making a movie? Do they deserve to be punished for choosing to work with predators (and have they actually knowingly chosen to) or do they deserve their films to be seen because it’s their art too and they’ve done nothing wrong?</p> <p>Personally, I have no problem watching classic movies made by people who have later turned out to be predators, power abusers and other types of wrongdoers – history cannot and shouldn’t be ignored, and to understand the art of cinema, one cannot ignore the works of Hitchcock, Polanski, Allen or even bloody Riefenstahl who was definitely on the side of the darkest of forces. </p> <p>That said, I wouldn’t watch a new Kevin Spacey or Woody Allen film, let alone a new Weinstein production – but would watch a film co-starring Casey Affleck or Asia Argento and have watched a film directed by and starring James Franco, even though I don’t doubt for one second that their accusers are telling the truth. I would also watch a film whose cinematographer or costume designer is a known predator. Why do I draw the line there? Don’t ask because I have no other answer than that the line has to be drawn somewhere. </p> <p>(For the record, I think the comparison between Woody Allen and Ava DuVernay is a bit of a case of apples and oranges. DuVernay is one of the most interesting filmmakers of her generation and Allen of his, but that aside they have absolutely nothing in common. If we must though: even if we pretend not to know anything about Allen’s dark side, he hasn’t directed anything nearly as good and unique as DuVernay since Midnight in Paris so yes, I would rather catch the new DuVernay than the new Allen, even if we’re “separating the art from the artist” and pretending to forget that we’re also making a political choice between supporting an old white male alleged child molester and a progressive liberal female African American auteur.)</p>

    Did the link to a few of that woman’s tweets not work? Just to clarify, the comment itself was 100% the former, which I agree is insane. Great art can come from people suffering from great pain and from those who force others to share that pain in atrocious ways. I like where your line is at. I would still watch an Argento film as well, even though I choose to believe Jimmy Bennett. I can’t see myself not watching the new Coen Brothers movie which James Franco is a part of the ensemble in, even though just like you I believe his accusers. I know art is subjective, but dammit Psycho is one of the most essential motion pictures ever made, even those who generally hate horror movies should at least respect the innovation of it. Hitchcock did some shitty things, but he also made some of the most iconic and impactful films in all of world cinema.

    Note to myself: Don’t ever feed the trolls. Don’t get involved in others drama. Don’t let myself be swayed by others predictions, trust my gut more often!

    Note to all others: If you don’t happen to like me, ignore me. It is that simple.

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    Foolio
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    <p>Did the link to a few of that woman’s tweets not work? Just to clarify, the comment itself was 100% the former, which I agree is insane. Great art can come from people suffering from great pain and from those who force others to share that pain in atrocious ways.

    Your link produced one tweet of hers that I totally see the point of (““Separate art from the abusive artist” arguments seem to always miss a key piece: the abusive artist isn’t usually my hero”), and a glance at her Twitter account makes her seem to me like a person who makes a lot of sense. So yeah, I’d need to see the tweet myself to form my own opinion on it – I’m not at all questioning your interpretation of it, it’s just possible that we see it in a different light and therefore might interpret it differently.

    And to clarify on my previous reply: while I initially found her Allen vs. DuVernay comparison bizarre as the two couldn’t be more different as directors, I completely get what she’s trying to say there – the choice between a new Allen film and a new DuVernay film is not about whose script is smarter (though to be honest, DuVernay has systematically outdone Allen both in artistic vision and smartness ever since Midnight in Paris, which will probably remain his last great film) but choosing what kind of values to support and promote in this day and age. This is where Cameron Esposito is drawing her line and it makes perfect sense to me.

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