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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.

Recent Events

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.

What’s Next?

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.

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Thanks for reading!  What do you think about sexual offenders in film?  Comment down below!

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Nick Kush

A current college student, Nick founded MovieBabble in October of 2016 in order to provide insightful film analysis that is meant to educate and entertain. Nick is also a member of the Internet Film Critics Society.

21 Responses

  1. Do nothing with the movie just punish the offender. It wasn’t the movie itself that did it.

    • Nick Kush says:

      Unfortunately, I fear that many will get mad at the movie as whole, even if it isn’t right

      • They always do. I mean they pull say house of cards, just change the actor in it write off spaces character (kill him off in some HORRIBLE manner at least for his real life victims sakes. same with whats his face. Frankly I’m sick of hearing it. I worked at a lumber yard for 11 1/2 years. I always got harassed in ore ways than one, but did I boo hoo like these girls do? NO I I’d punch the guy or kick him in the groin or grab his hand and twist it. I am a lady most of the time but these so called neo feminists need to stop complaining about all the crap they do (frankly I’m surprised they haven’t complained about a certain one of those commercials with flo in them where the guy says men are talking…. I don’t offend easily but for me to get pissed off about it.. THAT’S when the feminists should be Bitching and moaning about something.

        Frankly if they aren’t going to fight back BEFORE being felt up etc… hey need to shut up about the pay rate amount of decent female roles etc.

      • Nick Kush says:

        I think the normal person probably isn’t as physically strong as you make yourself out to be. So instead of giving a guy a kick, they do something that they feel is more effective to the situation and speak out instead. I don’t know, I don’t want to mansplain things that I could never fully understand, but I feel like everyone has a different way of dealing with similar adversity.

  2. dons131 says:

    Such a difficult situation to talk about but so true. When I found out about the allegations with such actors/artists it really does make you look at their work in a different light and almost makes you feel guilty for liking their films/performances. I went to see a Louis C.K performance in New York last year and thought him hilarious with his racy jokes and now…I find it very difficult to listen to any of it….but I still like the jokes…hmmm. Obviously what they have done is very wrong but am I a bad person for still liking/enjoying their previous work?

    • Nick Kush says:

      I don’t think you’re a bad person! In time, I’ll probably go back and watch some of Louis CK’s stuff too. Ultimately, I think it comes down to whatever you’re comfortable with!

  3. This is a very interesting discussion and post, great job!

    Yeah, all these accusations coming out leave us, the regular audience, in a bit of a “I don’t know what to do” situation. I guess for me, I try my best to separate between the art and the artist, as I try to do with all celebrities. It might be hard, but I just do my best that I can.

    • Nick Kush says:

      That’s the way I feel as well. It’s certainly a difficult task in some cases, but it seems a little unfair to punish hundreds of workers for the act of one man

  4. Aimer Boyz says:

    Intriguing question.

    Do I turn the channel the next time American Beauty airs? Or Pay It Forward, or Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil? Probably not, those movies are master pieces.

    If Spacey finds his way into a movie two years from now, would I see it? Hummm…

    Can’t look at Mel Gibson, though 🙂

    • Nick Kush says:

      It’s certainly a curious topic, especially for people that are actually on screen. You’re mind ultimately jumps to who they are as a person in some cases, even if it doesn’t matter to the film

  5. ghostof82 says:

    You can’t rewrite history, or blank out old movies, for political correctness or revisionary judgement of individuals. Do we stop watching the POTC films because Depp allegedly beat up his wife? I’m sorry, I don’t want to belittle the importance of these sex charges etc. I’m sure many films in the past were made by and starred utter bastards. But should the films stand apart from that? Should we feel we condone their actions by watching their movies?

    Here in the UK, the BBC has over the last several years been repeating a popular pop show that ran for decades. Some of the music DJs who presented it back in the 1970s and 1980s were later involved in terrible sexual harassment and child abuse scandals. Those particular episodes that they presented are not being aired, shelved forever. It’s like those individuals and any program they were involved in have been written off the face of history. Maybe this is right and deserved but it seems a cautionary example- where do we draw the line? If we find out someone involved in Ben Hur or even Star Wars was involved in terrible crimes like this, does that mean the films should be expunged from the public record completely?

    • Nick Kush says:

      I couldn’t tell you the answer to that question. In fact, whatever you choose to believe is entirely up to you! Like I said in the article, in the end, it’s up to the individual

  6. Wow! Truly insightful. It will certainly be almost impossible letting go of some of these names and their legacies. I am so full of mixed feelings. As for now, this is going to be my Food for thought

  7. Silksache't says:

    i concur with everything said here, i would love to share this on my blog, is that ok??

  1. January 11, 2018

    […] The Art vs. The Artist – What Should We Do About Films that Include Sexual Offenders? […]

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