Cognitive Dissonance Alert! Can I Still Ethically Enjoy “Tie Me Kangaroo Down”?

I’ve enjoyed that early Sixties novelty song “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport!” since I first heard it. It’s genuinely funny, employed black humor ahead of its time, and is cleverly written and performed. But I never bothered to learn who sang it or wrote it, until I learned the answer to both questions this morning when I read the obituary of Rolf Harris, who did both.

Rolf Harris was a popular British entertainer and TV personality who was convicted of sexually abusing young girls, and sent to prison. He never apologized to any of his victims (though he did apologize for using the racially charged slang “abo” in his hit song).

Ick. Here’s the Cognitive Dissonance Scale again…

The scale indicates positive and negative attitudes regarding people, places, subjects, events and ideas. Remember that like it or not, things that are connected tend to pull the things they are connected to up or down the scale. “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport!” is far from my favorite song, but it’s a solid +5 on the scale. Famous male celebrities who use their power and fame to sexually abuse children, however, are at least at -100, or lower. I don’t know how I can listen to a silly song and still be amused while my mind is telling me that the singer and author was a predatory monster.

And yet…and yet…I have written here many times that it is unethical to downgrade a critical assessment of a work of art because of the character of its creator, and that the art and the artist should be considered separately,

I believe that. I just don’t know that I can do it.

7 thoughts on “Cognitive Dissonance Alert! Can I Still Ethically Enjoy “Tie Me Kangaroo Down”?

  1. The recently deceased Kingsley Amis turns out to have been a world class asshole. Does that change my take on “Lucky Jim,” a terrifically funny book? No. Hi ho the Derry-o, the art stands alone.

    • Dickens, Hemingway, Faulkner, Roth, Hellman, Albee, Stephen King…all assholes. Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, Cole Porter, John Lennon…and don’t get me started on actors and directors.

      • I was just thinking about your being a connoisseur of the theatrical arts and was going to bring it up. Anybody whose as knowledgeable as you are about actors and actresses and directors has to look past a great deal of malevolence. Dickens and Faulkner immediately came to my mind after Amis. The Bloomsburys were all completely reprehensible sub humans.

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