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Who Made My Art?

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Who made my art? I don’t respect Woody Allen. I don’t respect Harvey Weinstein. I don’t respect Kevin Spacey, or Louis CK, or Bill Cosby. I don’t respect sexual predators, and I believe their work should receive the same treatment. It doesn’t come as a shock that most of our beloved entertainers, the ones that bring smiles to our faces, bring considerable pain to others. The issue around problematic pasts (and even presents) in the entertainment industry has been subject to widespread debate. Punishing the artist is a given, art, however, requires more contemplation.

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Should art and artist be separated? It is difficult to objectively evaluate art in our modern world. With such an inundation of access into artists’ personal lives, the connotation of their actions inevitably affects our personal perception of their artwork.

The consequences of this inevitable change in perception of the artist’s work and its success may often go beyond the artist alone. From the moment the nature of artists like Kevin Spacey came to light, the audience will struggle to separate art from the artist. That’s part of the consequence. Art cannot be considered beyond the scope of punishment because this creates a society where it is acceptable to make shitty choices and still be rewarded.

Associating art with its creator is imperative to creating a culture where people are culpable for their actions. The continued success of such figures sends an unconscious message to every other person who has committed sexual misconduct that not only can they get away with it, they even can thrive of off it. How do we grapple with problematic art specifically when the perpetrators are still alive and profiting from their work? It is time to snap out of our privileged bubble and realize that real people’s pain is at stake here. Our own enjoyment means nothing against silenced victims that have to watch their assailants prosper. It is a distressingly trivial thought to worry about your favorite TV show or movie. Granting exceptions based on the quality of the work or how much the things that make the artist unpleasant bleed into the work are weak excuses. Human suffering is not collateral damage for good art. We shouldn’t mourn the loss of talent. Sexual harassers have lost their privilege to be mourned, or glorified.

They cannot be allowed to profit off of further media attention. To state that you are mourning the drain of talent in the arts and entertainment industry is repulsive, as you are simply supporting the men who have abused their power for so many years and are just now getting punished for it. The loss of their talent is not the end of the world- there are plenty of women and men that are just as capable that have not had their chance yet. In fact, the extinction of such figures will give women the chance to have a larger prominence in the industry. This whole debate urges a reassessment of our priorities. Ensuring the entertainment industry is a safe space for all should always be above preserving works of art. Art can only be created in an environment of trust.

The recent rise of the #MeToo movement is a chance to flush out all the predators from the industry and open the doors to all those stifled by the abuse of power within the ranks highly influential men. Change doesn’t happen overnight. When studios and production companies stop affiliating with sexual predators, one day the industry will be a place intolerant of sexual misconduct. In the grand scheme of things art itself will be better off not attached to these people. It is our responsibility to stop buying what they’re selling.

11 February 2020

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