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Thread: Can You Separate the Artist's Work from Their Actions?

  1. #1
    Border Rebel RudieCantFail's Avatar
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    Default Can You Separate the Artist's Work from Their Actions?

    I'm just bringing this sort of topic up, since The Birth of a Nation came out last weekend. There's been controversy surrounding it due to director Nate Parker's past coming up, since there are a couple scenes in the film that were written by him and his friend who was also involved in that past incident. It only made $7 million last weekend, but I think it would have made more money if he didn't have a checkered past.

    People on iMDB and other areas bring up the examples of Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, and Mel Gibson's conduct, and how they seemingly get a pass. Although Woody is a bit strange, he's the least affected by what he's been accused of before out of the three I mentioned. His films get Oscar noms. Polanski won a best director Oscar for The Pianist in 2003, and Mel Gibson is sort of working but not to the extent of what he has done in the past.

    Personally, I haven't seen these guys' films because I haven't gotten around to it. I tried to watch Hannah and Her Sisters, but I stopped b/c I thought it was dull. I've seen only Polanski's Frantic for Harrison Ford, since he's one of my favorite actors. I haven't seen much of Gibson's work b/c I haven't gotten to it yet. Maybe I'm subconsciously avoiding them due to the things they've done in the past, and also, I'd rather watch other movies.

    Also, I remembered Phil Spector, so if you have any thoughts on whether you can separate his music production expertise from his involvement in the death of Lana Clarkson, feel free to say anything.

    Anyways, you could talk about people in film, TV, music, or etc, and I'd like to hear what you think about this subject. The people you mention don't have to be as extreme as the ones I've mentioned, but you certainly can use extreme examples of people. I mean, they could be mild things, like people that say stupid/ignorant things on late night talk shows, those who act all arrogant in interviews, or etc. I just want to know if their actions affect how you see their work or not.

    If you don't really care for this topic or you'd rather not say anything, then it's fine to let this topic die. Also, sorry if this isn't the right discussion area. I just thought that it would be safer here, since some of these artists have done criminal things in the past.

  2. #2
    Stuck on the Border NightMistBlue's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can You Separate the Artist's Work from Their Actions?

    It's a good topic, Rudie. However I can't claim to be consistent in my attitude. When I read about Nat Parker's case, especially that the poor girl committed suicide, i thought "There's no way I'd ever see a rapist's movie." And yet, I have seen a number of Polanski's films and enjoyed/admired them, especially "Tess" which is one of my all-time favorites.

    I would say generally that I can and do separate an artist's work from their actions - otherwise, you'd be judging people all the time. Mel Gibson *is* a talented actor and director. Kind of a creep in real life perhaps, and a mean drunk for sure, but what business is that of mine? There's no doubt that Phil Spector was a talented and hugely influential producer. People always knew he was a weird, dark guy who aimed guns at people and did other bad stuff. Should we stop listening to the Ronettes? I hope not.

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    Stuck on the Border Delilah's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can You Separate the Artist's Work from Their Actions?

    I'm not familiar with the chronology of Nate Parker's situation--when did these things come to light? I agree that Woody Allen gets a pass these days and continues to be the subject of hero worship in Hollywood. Perhaps the difference is that his best work (in my view, anyway) was in the 70s with "Annie Hall", "Manhattan", etc.- a big time lapse between those films and the revelation of his personal indiscretions. I don't think his more recent works get much attention outside of the film industry. Personally, I do not care to see anything by him from the last 20-25 years.

    Like with Allen's earlier movies, I saw "Rosemary's Baby" before I ever knew anything about Roman Polanski. It would seem kind of pointless to boycott the movie now after having seen it a number of times even if I were to inclined to.

    I think a person could really paint himself in a corner by avoiding all works of art created by someone with a shady past. No one is perfect; I guess it depends on what line is crossed. I came across an article a while back about John Lennon, and all anyone could talk about is how he abused women. His musical legacy seemed not to matter. Maybe this is why McCartney's star has brightened while Lennon's has dimmed.

    I guess the answer to your question is, it depends. How important is that artist's work on a personal level and how distasteful is the act? There's a difference between drunken mouthing off (Mel Gibson) or a racist remark (Def Leppard in the 80s) and something like rape.

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    Border Desperado WS82Classics's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can You Separate the Artist's Work from Their Actions?

    Absolutely.
    All carrot, no stick.

    "He's just another power junkie, just another silk scarf monkey. You'd know it if you saw his stuff. The man just isn't big enough."--Glenn Frey/Don Henley

    "You think you know me, but you haven't got a clue."--John Lennon/Paul McCartney


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    Stuck on the Border buffyfan145's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can You Separate the Artist's Work from Their Actions?

    For me it depends on what the person is accused of or has done. A few actors I've liked have gotten DUIs in the past (Kiefer Sutherland, Matthew Fox, etc.) and it took me awhile to be ok with them. They let me down a bit but in most cases it hasn't happened again and they seem to be ok now. Same with others that struggle with addiction and I wish the best for them and their sobriety. In some cases though if they do horrible things and it's proven true I'm done with them. With Woody Allen I didn't know about those things when I first started watching his films as I was a teenager. My Dad likes some of his films and some of them and Polanski's are considered classics, so if you're a fan of movies you're going to see them. That being said Woody Allen actually wrote and directed one of my favorite films recently "Midnight in Paris", so it's hard to say. So for me it depends on the case but usually you can separate it.
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    Stuck on the Border Witchy Woman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can You Separate the Artist's Work from Their Actions?

    All depends on what it is they did. If it's something serious, like abuse, rape, or murder, I don't think I could separate that from their work. Less serious things, like drugs and alcohol (which are pretty much the norm for famous people), can be forgiven and overlooked.

    Before anyone gives me grief, I am NOT condoning drug and alcohol use !! And if abuse, rape, or murder occurred because of drugs and alcohol that would be equally as reprehensible.

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    Stuck on the Border WalshFan88's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can You Separate the Artist's Work from Their Actions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Witchy Woman View Post
    All depends on what it is they did.
    That's it to a T for this guy.

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    Border Desperado MortSahlFan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can You Separate the Artist's Work from Their Actions?

    Absolutely. If one can write a great song, movie, or be funny, I'm happy.

  9. #9
    Moderator Brooke's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can You Separate the Artist's Work from Their Actions?

    I think this is an interesting topic, Rudie!

    I would agree that it depends on what they've done. I haven't heard about The Birth of a Nation or Nate Parker, so I can't comment on that. (I guess I've been living under a rock maybe! lol)

    I do think that since Mel Gibson's indiscretions, I don't love him like I did before, but I will still watch him in a movie. I loved him in the Lethal Weapon movies, What Women Want, and Braveheart.

    I was never a big Woody Allen fan, can't comment on him.

    I don't usually dig into the past too much and if it looks good at the time, I'll watch it.
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    Default Re: Can You Separate the Artist's Work from Their Actions?

    I try to keep them separate, although sometimes what little I know can get in the way and I find myself thinking of the actor's story rather than the character being played.

    I rarely know much about these cases and I don't want to judge just on headlines but I also don't want to dig into the dirt.
    "Billy, whoever writes the songs, wins."

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