Separating the art from the artist isn’t as easy as one might think. Some artists who have been known for doing illegal and unethical activities, such as Woody Allen or Bill Cosby.
As many know, entertainer Bill Cosby has been the subject of publicized sexual assault allegations for some time. The first accusation against Cosby occurred in 2004. Since then, Cosby has been accused by nearly 60 women of rape, drug facilitated sexual assault, sexual battery, child sexual abuse and/or sexual misconduct. The earliest alleged incidents taking place in the mid-1960s.
Growing up, I knew Bill Cosby as some guy that my weird neighbor used to do impressions of, certainly not a serial rapist. Knowing what I know now, I decided to watch an episode of the show to see if I could look past the crimes against Cosby.
I couldn’t. I watched about 17 minutes before I shut it off.
The sad truth is: Art is created to be experienced, even if it was created by monsters.
Woody Allen has written, directed and starred in a film for more consecutive years than almost anyone else in show business. He has written more than a dozen plays and several books on comedy, but what is he really known for?
Allen is an accused child molester. Just over two years ago, the New York Times published Allen’s adopted daughter Dylan Farrow’s open letter. In the letter, Farrow discusses the abuse Allen inflicted on her throughout her childhood.
In the letter, Farrow wrote: “When I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me.”
After reading that, would you want to experience any form of art that came from the mind of that man? Maybe not.
Although Amazon certainly doesn’t feel the same way, the newly declared television provider will release the “Untitled Woody Allen Project” sometime this year. The half-hour series, featuring Blake Lively, Steve Carell, Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg, will be available only on Prime Instant Video in the United States, U.K. and Germany.
The individuality and uniqueness that is involved in living our own lives and creating our own experiences is being overlooked here.
We like to believe that doing one bad thing isn’t going to ruin the way society views us forever, so why are so quick to rule out beautiful forms of art just because of who it was created by?
Some people argue that by watching the Cosby Show or any of Allen’s films we are supporting their actions.
There isn’t a right or wrong answer to the question because art is open to different interpretations from everyone. Whether they choose to look beyond who created it and see the art for what people think it really is, is also completely up to them.
I like to think I’m an open minded person, but at the same time, reading the accusations against these artists makes it difficult to see them as anything other than criminals. Sure, the 17 minutes of the Cosby show I watched made me laugh, but I couldn’t shake the thought Bill Cosby being a rapist.
Woody Allen, the filmmaker, is magnificent.
He takes philosophical themes and dilemmas and breaks them down into an everyday life setting, but when I see him onscreen, all I see is the horrific scene that Farrow’s letter painted in my mind. The child molester label can never fade.
I guess there are certain impressions that can act as roadblocks in my mind. Chances are, I will never be able to see past them, but in this case, I’m fine with that. Maybe our minds are trying to do us favors.
What’s the point of experiencing a form of art if we simply can’t appreciate it for all it’s worth? Maybe experiencing a form of art isn’t worth it if we can’t give genuine praise and show appreciation to whoever created it.
Email Madison Winters at firstname.lastname@example.org