Considering how long and how often it has happened, Western culture should find it easy to separate art from artist -- to judge a particular work of art apart from the behavior of its creator.
The ongoing saga of filmmaker
"Oscar voters DO punish people," says
Then again, sometimes they don't. Paging director
"Chances are good that if we delved into the private lives of every single artist whose work we admire, surely we'd find plenty not to like, and even to be disgusted by," says
History is replete with tales of artists behaving badly. Composer
And yet, Wagner's operas are still heard (even in
It's nothing new
This age-old debate, mostly unresolved, has come round again in the wake of the latest developments in the case of Allen and his daughter
Two decades later, and with powerful social media at their disposal, the Farrows are campaigning against Allen as his film Blue Jasmine is riding high this awards season (even though -- irony alert -- Allen says he doesn't give a fig for awards and never shows up to accept them).
After Allen's film career was honored during last month's Golden Globes ceremony,
"For so long,
Allen countered Friday with a Timesop-ed, calling the accusation a "lame attempt to do professional damage by trying to involve movie stars."
Shades of gray
All this has set off vociferous arguments. When, for example,
O'Neil says it's possible the Farrows' campaign could encourage academy voters to pass on awarding Allen or his actors. (Allen is nominated for best original screenplay forBlue Jasmine, and Blanchett has scooped up just about every best-actress award this season for her starring role.)
"Blanchett is so far out front for best actress, the only thing that could explain a loss would be this scandal," O'Neil says.
Blanchett, of course, is innocent, and Allen is presumed innocent. But even if
Brad Brevet, who writes a film blog, RopeofSilicon.com, says the Polanski example shows that
"Obviously no one supports what Polanski did or what Allen allegedly did, but should that stop us from watching Repulsion and Midnight in
"We don't think of them as lesser, as if there were a connection to whatever happened in their private lives and the work they created. And there's no reason to think that would be different with
But, he says, none of those past artists transgressed in the age of Twitter, when whispers are amplified and unrelated questions are conflated with wild abandon.
Lehman is disturbed by "media steamrolling," which he says has created an environment in which people come to firm conclusions, about Allen or anything else, without actually knowing the facts. They just think they do.
"We have documentation about Wagner's anti-Semitism," he says. When it comes to Allen, "it seems to me there's a rush to judgment based on little documentation."
Is image everything?
It's unfair, he says, but Oscar voters might be influenced. That's because, he says, the Academy Awards are not just about picking the best in a given year.
"It's about putting their best foot forward in shaping public opinion about the film industry," he says. Some voters might conclude the industry's image would be harmed by honoring Allen or his movie. "It is possible that, in this context, a number of voters could be influenced."
There may be no answer to this debate except time. Consider the classic filmmaker
At the ceremony, some stars sat on their hands as the 89-year-old accepted the Oscar; most of the audience, including
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