Perfect! That’s the ideal description of what artists, especially performing artists, do when they engage in such revolting conduct that it becomes difficult or impossible for us to enjoy their work the way we could before we knew they were disgusting human beings.
We owe Vulture writerThe Cultural Vandalism of Jeffrey Tambor,
He writes in part,
Once I know something like this, it makes it impossible for me to look at the actor and not think of the horrible things they’ve allegedly done. I don’t care to argue whether this is rational or not (I think it is), or whether I hold inconsistent opinions of works that are problematic for whatever reason (everyone does). The repulsed feeling is still there, and it makes a difference in how I react as a spectator…This sort of thing seems categorically different from, say, watching a film starring an actor whose political beliefs are different from yours (though there, too, a line could be irrevocably crossed). Once you believe that a particular actor or filmmaker or screenwriter is a predator or abuser, you’re aware that the environment that produced your entertainment — the film set — was engaged in a conscious or reflexive cover-up, in the name of protecting an investment. You can still be passionately interested in the thing as a historical or aesthetic document — seeing it through the eyes of, say, an art historian who can contextualize Paul Gauguin within the totality of 19th-century painting, or an African-American studies professor who’s fascinated by Gone With the Wind — but you can’t lose yourself in it anymore. You can’t be in love with it. You can’t really enjoy it in the most basic sense, not without playing dumb.
You didn’t do that to the artist. The artist did that to himself…
And it’s awful. People’s lives get ruined, their careers get interrupted or destroyed. The emotional, physical, and financial damage that problematic artists inflict on people in their orbit should always be the first and main subject of discussion…On top of all that, we also have the collateral damage of cultural vandalism. Fun, meaningful, even great works that dozens or hundreds of people labored over, that built careers and fortunes and whole industries, become emotionally contaminated to the point where you can’t watch them anymore…. in recent years, an entire wing of African-American cultural history has been vaporized by the Bill Cosby allegations and his recent felony sexual-assault trial, including the most popular sitcom of the ’80s (The Cosby Show), some of the top-selling comedy albums of all time, the precursor to the R-rated buddy comedy genre (Uptown Saturday Night and its sequels), and the first Saturday morning cartoon with a predominantly black cast (Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids). Predators’ careers are getting raptured, as well they should be. But unfortunately — perhaps inevitably — their work is getting raptured along with it, imploding into dust as the culture moves on to things that aren’t as problematic (or that might have skeezy stuff going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about yet)….
…Nobody is stopping anyone from watching these works (though they’re no longer as easy to find, and you probably have to own a DVD player). We can still talk about them, study them, write about them, contextualize them. But the emotional connection has been severed. The work becomes archival. It loses its present-tense potency, something that significant or great works have always had the privilege of claiming in the past.
That’s all on the predators. It’s not on you. None of us asked for this.
This is pure cognitive dissonance scale stuff, of course. Regular readers here probably don’t need this, but here it is again:
If the Cosby Show was a 10, and Bill was a 10 along with it, but drugging and raping women is below a -10, as it should be, it is going to pull Cos and his show down the scale to the point that most people don’t find Dr. Huxtable’s funny faces hilarious any more.
Seitz also suggest that artists should consider it an obligation not to destroy cultural works by engaging in personal misconduct tat will forever mar them. They should, I agree, but I wonder if anyone so perverse and ethically rotten as a Spacey, a Louis C.K., a Woody Allen, a Polanski, or a Cosby would pause a second before they savaged a human being to think–“Wait a minute! If I do this and it comes out, that classic film/TV show I was in will never be as enjoyable again!” I doubt it.
It’s not incumbent upon the audience to pretend not to know unpleasant facts about the performer so that they can enjoy fiction. It’s incumbent upon the artist never to put the audience in that position in the first place. It might sound like I’m describing one of those “morals clauses” in Old Hollywood contracts, but it’s a different thing, because it’s about protecting the audience’s emotional investment in the art, not just the studio’s investment in the product. It’s a basic courtesy, an implied part of the unwritten agreement that ought to exist between the artist and the viewer.
Certain things you can forgive or forget. Other things you can’t because they stain the mind. This is the misdemeanor on top of the crimes.
Again, in principle, I agree. In reality, most of these people are sociopaths and narcissists. They have no conscience. A lot of them are emotionally and mentally ill. Is it reasonable to expect, for example, a Gig Young to not kill his wife and himself because he knows nobody will be able to enjoy Doris Day comedies like “Teacher’s Pet” and “Send Me No Flowers” again? I can’t enjoy the “Naked Gun” films like I used to, because every time O.J. comes on the screen as the bumbling “Nordberg,” I think of bloody gloves and cut throats. Do you think O.J. cares? After his murder, it came out that Bob Crane was obsessed with kinky sex and hung out with the lowest of low-lifes, leading to his ugly demise. I doubt that Crane worried about the peril his lifestyle posed for his fellow “Hogan’s Heroes” cast mates, who have all lost a great deal of income from the residuals that vanished once funny and likable Colonel Hogan was revealed as bondage/ sadism/masochism freak.
That’s the problem. The performing artists who have enough basic decency, integrity and professionalism to feel an obligation not to degrade their work by personal misconduct aren’t the artists likely to behave unethically anyway.