May 24, 2018

Separating the Content From the Creator

Sharon Tate & Roman Polanski (1968)Suppose there was a film that you had loved for years. It might not be your favorite, but it would easily make your top 10 list. You've seen it more times than you can count, and it has that rare ability to transport you to somewhere else. You might even have bought it at some point (yes, I know nobody but me buys physical media any more because of some sort of streaming nonsense of which I refuse to take part).

Now imagine that you were to learn that the director of your beloved film did something awful. I don't mean he or she said something you found offensive; I mean he or she did something truly horrific. And that pretty much means we can dispense with the "he or she" crap and just stick with "he," doesn't it? The guy's obviously got to be a straight White male, right? Probably even cisgendered. The bastard! But really, he's done some appalling things. Perhaps he's outed as a neo-Nazi who molests young boys while receiting Mein Kampf. He beats his wife, cons older adults out of their retirement savings, sexually harasses his employees, and was once spotted sitting comfortably while using public transportation (i.e., manspreading). The guy is a monster. No question about it.

Would you immediately throw away the movie and vow to never watch it again? I don't think I would. No matter what despicable acts he's done, I'm not sure why I'd deprive myself of something I enjoyed to prove something to no one in particular. If I tried to watch it again and found that I couldn't enjoy it, that would be one thing. But assuming I could separate the art from the director, as I am almost positive I can, this would seem pointless. After all, I've had no trouble whatsoever enjoying films by Roman Polanski, not that I'm suggesting he ever did anything as terrible as manspreading, mind you.

Anyway, I bring this odd subject up because I was recently told by someone that I should not even write about films that had been directed by certain flawed human beings. Writing about them, even here on this blog, might bring them to the attention of others. Nobody should even hear about them, much less watch them. Sorry, but I'm not going along with that. If you'd like to impose such restrictions on yourself, have at it. I'll not even criticize you for doing so. Just don't expect me to do the same.

And with that, I believe I'll go watch a few re-runs of The Cosby Show. I was surprised to see that they are still being aired on at least one cable channel.