Revisionist History: How Do We Make Sense of What’s Going on in Hollywood?

By Samuel Arciprete, Chief Opinions Editor

 

This past week, I read an article that I encourage anyone reading this to look up. Manohla Dargis’ piece, “Louis C.K., The Latest in a Canon of Creeps,” looks back on her experience this past August watching Louis C.K.’s film “I Love You, Daddy,” which has since been yanked by its distributor from hitting theaters. Although I, like many of you, will probably never be able to see the final product of the film unless it is released at a later date, the article still begs the question that weighs in the air of the entertainment community at the moment: To what extent can we separate art from the artist?

For those of you unaware, Louis C.K. is yet another to have his career halted in a line of Hollywood sexual misconduct scandals. He admitted to these accusations and offered an apology that I found heartfelt and remorseful. He pledged, “I have spent my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want. I will now step back and take a long time to listen.” I don’t think we should all sit here and feel bad for Louis C.K. or Kevin Spacey. They’re incredibly rich and will be able to continue to live comfortably in private for the rest of their lives.

For many, this conflict of being able to separate a great film from a terrible filmmaker is not something new. Woody Allen, who was first accused of sexually assaulting his daughter Dylan Farrow over 25 years ago, has largely been ostracized from Hollywood. Mel Gibson is just now coming back from an anti-Semitic tirade in 2006 in which he drunkenly went on a hate-spewing tirade against a Jewish police officer who pulled him over in Malibu, California and refused to let him drive himself home. Gibson’s expletive-laced verbal attack against the officer climaxed with an anti-Semitic slur that included the words, “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. Are you a Jew?” Long story short, Hollywood is no stranger to banishing individuals that are morally reprehensible.

How now, then, are we to decide how to reckon with this new batch of banished celebrities? Netflix ended its relationship with Louis C.K., HBO pulled their comedy special, and, as I stated above, his film has been killed before it could hit theaters. I don’t think it is possible for us to re-watch his television series or listen to his stand-up specials without viewing them through the lens of the intrigues and ideas of a sexual deviant. With one admission of guilt, all of the previous jokes we used to laugh about now seem a bit stale and creepy.

We cannot view films or television objectively. We cannot view the work by these artists without also taking into consideration the person making it. We don’t have out-of-body experiences when we consume these art forms and can’t pretend that what we are enjoying on screen is happening in a different reality than the one we are inhabiting. I won’t sit around and mourn the careers of Weinstein, Spacey, or Louis C.K. because I know that they all deserve to be cast off in society. With each pending allegation and admission of wrongdoing by a Hollywood elite, we lose a little bit more culture to the sub-genre of creepy men.

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