Can we Separate Art from the Asinine?

In recent days, troubles in the DCEU film franchise have been bubbling to the surface in entertainment industry related media. Some have picked up on rumors that Ben Affleck wants out of being Batman, others have focused on the struggle to find a director for the next film about the Dark Knight and, a few days ago, word broke that Warner Bros. wants Mel Gibson to direct a sequel to the much maligned “Suicide Squad” music video helmed by David Ayer.

Predictably, people were up in arms at this. Twitter users brought up the man’s past history of offensive statements and his past incidents of domestic abuse with spouses. Fair criticisms to be sure. On the other hand, others like Mr. Iron Man himself Robert Downey Jr. have said that the Braveheart star has “hugged the cactus long enough” and that unless people in the entertainment industry were totally “without sin”, they should forgive him for his past terrible indiscretions.

This is an interesting debate. To what extent can we as individuals separate an artist and their shitty behavior from the good art that they have created or may create in the distant future?

With the Pudding Rapist (Bill Cosby), we seem to have chosen to tie the two together. Re-runs of The Cosby Show were understandably pulled from the airwaves at the height of his controversy re-emerging and have only now made their way back to viewing screens, but the damage is already done. I can’t watch many older episodes without being freaked out over Cliff being an OBGYN and the episode with the aphrodisiac BBQ sauce is skin-crawlingly bad.

But with modern day Wood Nymph and occasional actor Bill Murray, we’ve decided as a society to not give a shit about the allegations surrounding him, apparently. Remember when he got divorced and the filings from his ex-wife claimed that he hit her in the face and said she was lucky that he “didn’t kill her”? Oh, but he crashes wedding photo shoots so I guess it’s ok.

And then there’s Louis Ck. I confess, he’s one of my favorite entertainers. I love his work, have seen the man do live standup in D.C. and will almost always watch viral clips of him online. But like other powerful and famous men, the father of two is also alleged to be hideously perverted.

Google “Louis Ck allegations” and you’ll see what I mean. Allegedly (And there’s enough rumblings to suggest something.), he likes to whip his dick out in front of female comedians and jerk off whilst grunting at them. Supposedly, when they try to leave, he likes to stand in front of the exit and block their path. That is some disturbing shit. Yes, it’s not proven, but so were claims against Bill Cosby once upon a time. I am conscious of it and am taking a close watch to see if more claims arise. If they do, I can honestly say that I would stop supporting his work.

Why is it that with these men we decided to give them a pass? What makes their controversies any less serious than those of Gibson or Cosby? Can you still watch Lost in Translation knowing that the man is alleged to have been an utter scumbag during the last period where he was married? And is the scene in an episode of Louie where he tries to drag his friend Pamela off to the bedroom against her will still funny or is it a creepy reflection of the man’s private life?

Ultimately, this is a question that I think people need to confront more often in their lives. If an entertainer does something shitty they deserve to be called out on it and not always have their troubles kept separate from their art. With some, that can be done, but not with others. Gibson should continue his career rehabilitation but not have his troubles go unforgotten, Murray deserves to be hounded more about his domestic abuse allegations and a reporter worth their salt needs to seriously dig into claims that Louie is a perverted nut. The public deserves to know.

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