The Art vs. The Artist – What Should We Do About Films that Include Sexual Offenders?
The unfortunate of reality of Hollywood is becoming more apparent as more sexual offenders are accused every single day. Men like Louis C.K and Kevin Spacey are just a few of the big names that are now considered social pariahs. But, these men still leave behind a large library of popular, often critically revered films. This actuality offers a question that may be more important than ever. What should come of these films?
An Unfortunate History of Sexual Offenders in the Industry
As the past few weeks have once again illuminated, there has been an alarming history of sexual abuse in Hollywood. But, the town of stars hasn’t exactly shunned these individuals. Long before Harvey Weinstein, there were people such as Roman Polanski, a man accused of raping a child back in 1977. He would later win an Oscar in 2003. Woody Allen is no stranger to sexual abuse either, yet he continues to direct seemingly fifteen movies every single year.
There have been other recent controversies as well, namely Casey Affleck and Mel Gibson who have accusations of sexual harassment (among other issues). And yet, these men continue to be lauded for their work and remain in the hunt for recognition from their peers. The general consensus has allowed Mel Gibson to star in Daddy’s Home 2, a family-friendly comedy that has the actor performing as a heightened version of his public persona, chasing after women every chance he can get. However, Gibson’s case may be a tad different since he went through a very public meltdown where many people in Hollywood, most notably Jodie Foster, backed his character. Nevertheless, there’s still a grey area that requires discussion.
The phrase “innocent until proven guilty” is certainly in play here for some sexual offenders. But, with no contrary information to exonerate these individuals, the court of public opinion will have to do as a trial just isn’t in play in some cases due to a number of different factors.
However, the downfall of the powerful Harvey Weinstein has led to the floodgates being opened. Weinstein wasn’t just a lone individual acting on his own accord, his spiral allowed for other individuals to gain the courage to speak up, causing more individuals to be exposed for their actions. Accusations regarding Brett Ratner quickly followed, confirming what many in the industry believed to be true. Six women came forward to accuse Ratner, forcing Warner Bros. to cut ties with the powerful producer. In fact, Gal Gadot has exclaimed that she will not return as Wonder Woman if Ratner continues to have involvement in the production of DC films.
Then there’s Kevin Spacey. The famed actor reportedly harassed more than a dozen men with a few of them underage at the time of the alleged event. Since the reports, Netflix has removed the actor from House of Cards. Even crazier, Ridley Scott and the rest of the staff working on the film All the Money in the World have decided to recast Spacey’s role as J. Paul Getty with actor Christopher Plummer. The reshoots will cost the production another $2.5 million and the film will actually still make its December 22nd release date as it makes a push for Oscar season.
Thankfully, it appears that Hollywood is taking strides to make sure that this behavior isn’t replicated. But, an important question remains. What on Earth do we do with the art these people leave behind?
Another Layer to the Art vs. the Artist Debate
There’s a certain “facelessness” issue at hand. Harvey Weinstein has produced many classic films, including Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece, Pulp Fiction. As Pulp Fiction is one of my personal favorite films, I’m certainly going to keep watching it until the day I cease to exist on this Earth. Are people going to stop watching Wonder Woman because Brett Ratner’s production company was involved? I’m leaning towards no in that regard. There’s a certain visual cue missing. Most will watch these films without it ever crossing their minds. That idea may bother some, but it’s certainly worth noting.
But, for those accused that make their living in front of the camera, there’s no doubt that less people will go back and watch their films, leaving the legacy of great pieces of art to become forever tarnished for the mistakes of one individual. Fair or not, it’s going to happen on some scale.
I’m not here to sway people from either side of the debate. Rather, I’m raising a discussion that will only become more prevalent as time wears on.
Look at the fallout from the Bill Cosby controversy. The once praised The Cosby Show has faded off into a distant memory. The show would definitely have had another life on streaming if it hadn’t been for Cosby’s accusations. Sure, this example might have different kinds of feelings attached to it since Cosby was actually tried in a court of law, but you would be a little oblivious not to believe that a large group of vocal individuals will react the same way to recent sexual offenders. Some of these individuals will never be tried in a court of law, but the court of public opinion is sometimes even more damaging.
Louis C.K.’s I Love You, Daddy has already been pulled from its scheduled release. All the Money in the World went to great lengths to avoid the same fate. Whether you agree with it or not, there’s a backlash occurring here that should be discussed further.
There’s bound to be more accusations in the coming months, so what are we to do with those that are revealed to be sexual offenders? Who gets to return to their previous career and who doesn’t? Only time will tell.
Naturally, some form of serious contrition will need to take place before any of these individuals ever works in Hollywood again. But, where do we draw the line between forgivable and unforgivable acts?
Unfortunately, there isn’t any concrete answers to these questions. What one person believes to be forgivable will not fly with someone else. This reality is a tad frustrating, but we as humans live in grey areas. If this issue was black and white, there would be no need for this article. Some will continue to love and rewatch films like Se7en or laugh at Louis C.K.’s stand-up specials. In the end, it’s the prevailing thought that stemmed from the individual that will win out. There are many different sides to this discussion, and it’s up to you whether you watch something or not.
Greater minds than myself will struggle to comprehend this issue. But, courteous discussion on a wide scale will help us to get there in due time.
Thanks for reading! What do you think about sexual offenders in film? Comment down below!
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