Edited by Jai Kalra
Only human beings create art. We have inherent good and bad qualities, and thus do good and evil. Does that mean we denounce art created by people who have done evil things?
Picasso hated women. William Golding, the author of ‘Lord of the Flies’, was an attempted rapist. Ann Perry, a crime novelist, murdered her mother at a very young age. Wagner was an anti-Semite. History is littered with instances of good art created by bad people.
Inglourious Basterds, The King’s Speech and The Artist are the names of some very well made films. The fact that they are treasured by many as one of the best pieces of cinema is not the only commonality these pictures share. They also share a production company, The Weinstein Company. The studio, co-founded by Harvey Weinstein, is responsible for many hollywood masterpieces, some that have even received Academy Awards for Best Picture. However, Harvey Weinstein has been accused by many women of sexual assault.
Similarly, masterpieces such as American Beauty, The Usual Suspects and Seven star the actor Kevin Spacey, who won Best Actor for American beauty and Best Supporting Actor for The Usual Suspects. Kevin Spacey has been accused by many of sexual assault, infamously dodging the initial accusation by hiding behind his choice of living as a gay man.
Some people do not financially support such people by not consuming their content. Others simply cannot enjoy art knowing in the back of their heads, the crimes committed by the artist. It makes them question the validity of the art. They question whether the painting would have been painted, the music would have been composed or the film would have been produced, if that person had not done those things. Therefore they denounce the work.
On the other side of the spectrum, some can successfully separate the artist from the art and enjoy it as it comes, without bothering about the creator. To them, it does not matter who created it, they wish to appreciate the effort that has been put into creating something they can relate to.
Some argue that art should stand on its own. Art is subjective and speaks to people in different ways. The acts of the artist are irrelevant if what that person has composed connects with people.
The answer to the question raised in the introductory paragraph is somewhat poetic. Just as art is subjective, so is a person’s ability to ethically enjoy art created by murderers, rapists, pedophiles, or racists.
So, if you like it, enjoy it. If you cannot enjoy it, don’t.