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The art, the artist and the accountability

by Kristina Livingston - Executive Editor
Tue, Nov 28th 2017 10:00 pm
  
Callout Fallout People look to fill the empty spaces of their days with entertainment, so naturally when that entertainment is disrupted, people are upset. However, prioritizing your own entertainment and devotion to an entertainer over a victim can be a costly choice.
Callout Fallout People look to fill the empty spaces of their days with entertainment, so naturally when that entertainment is disrupted, people are upset. However, prioritizing your own entertainment and devotion to an entertainer over a victim can be a costly choice.

e art from the artist, how can I support the funding of paychecks for sexual abusers and domestic violence offenders, pedophiles and predators?” my inner thoughts asked me. “Next time you think I have a responsibility to change the system I’m using for small talk fodder, think again.”

 Now, let me say, I am aware just as well as anyone else, that everyone has their resources for coping with various things, and that everything is problematic, XYZ, yadda yadda yadda, the works. Sometimes, though, I get frustrated with friends, acquaintances and even total strangers, letting me know I have the option to “separate the artist from their art.” AKA, I should conveniently forget someone is irredeemable because sometimes they churn out a good song. If I just forget about the lives they’ve ruined and focus instead on their talent, everything will be okay. 

This doesn’t mean I don’t still tolerate people for the sake of not missing out on experiences; of course I’ve sat around with friends watching “Pirates of the Caribbean”, albeit constantly numb whenever Johnny Depp was on screen, his status as a domestic abuser overpowering everything else in the film.

 Think for two seconds about all the victims and affected persons who don’t have the choice to “separate the art from the artist.” The movement to expose sexual predators in Hollywood surged forward with the intentions of affected men and women to tear down systems built on lies and cover-ups, hidden violence and violations. What good, then, does it do to ignore this? Consider the capabilities you have which allow you to sit through that comedian’s routine or download that rap album filled to the brim with lyrics perpetuating violence against women; many people are unable to do so, and not simply because they are too sensitive.

Natalie Reilly of The Sydney Morning Herald poses the suggestion that perhaps we take a much deeper look at the art that men are creating, because in the end, there’s a chance it’s more true to their lives than they’ll “claim they have memory of.” 

According to Reilly, in almost every instance of an outed abuser, there were potential signs all along, of seeking trust through allyship or just plain old recurring thematic elements that may uncover a telling attitude a performer or creator may have regarding women. It happens time and time again – Woody Allen’s portrayal of men having sex with teenage girls, like in his movie, “Manhattan”, for example. Reilly points out that Kevin Spacey, around whom there have been quiet whispers of his patterns of abuse parallels, has a tendency to be cast in films as the “villain who has been getting away with something for way too long.”

 At the end of the day, I, nor anyone else, is on this earth to police how people consume their media. It is simply a request to think critically. You can’t watch a movie without someone involved having tainted the livelihood of someone else, but you can make steps to refuse to be complicit. 

 “Darkness is a huge part of why we love drama, so am I saying all men? Of course not,” Reilly says. “But who then can we trust? I'll give you a clue: they make up 50 percent of the population and they're highly unlikely to rape or sexually harass people.” 

Separating the art from the artist no doubt exists with exceptions. According to metro.co.uk, when you’ve taken an interest in someone because of the art they have made, it’s important to remember that “to err is human,” however, “To assault, harass, molest, and attack people is not.”

Unfortunately, every source who has covered this topic is an opinion writer to a degree; no one can police actions. Make steps to deliberately prevent yourself from funding a known abuser’s paycheck. No one is saying you’ll never be allowed to watch “House of Cards” again, but for all that is holy, don’t expect anyone to be able to, and don’t ever forget the men whose lives Kevin Spacey has tainted. Part of what makes a piece of art unique is who collectively made it. If we are more conscientious of what we surround ourselves with, we can begin to rebuild an entertainment industry currently built on lies, deceit and violation.

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