Should We Forgive Artists?

During the whole Harvey Weinstein debacle I felt I had some kind of hazy responsibility to comment on it. So, I decided to wait until the dust had cleared and then comment, but, being the person that I am, another question arose within, after watching the response to the event. The question of “Should We Forgive Artists?” was probably derived from watching the art community cannibalistic-ally devouring its own.

I think writing about how you shouldn’t sexually assault people would be redundant and the moral of that essay is pretty self evident to begin with, but tackling the issue of art and forgiveness might spur us to much needed introspection.

Artists are people too. They are deeply flawed like all of us. The key difference between them and us is exposure. Whenever a public figure does something wrong, they are either ignored and ostracized, ignored and tolerated, or simply damned to Hell, seemingly on a random case-by-case basis. I believe that is what people struggle with. The arbitrary nature of accountability among public figures.

Artists are, for lack a better word, strange people. It is because of their unique way of being that we admire them. Should we forgive them? I think so, but that point stops when they transgress the law. The Law should not be arbitrary. Justice plays no favorites. However, when artists do repugnant things that do not break the law, we should forgive their faux pas. Another crucial detail to this constant mass hysteria is that we treat every tweet like it is anything other than a throw away thought. People say and do repungnant things. Status, wealth, and talent don’t protect artists from their own faults. As a general rule, you shouldn’t take anything at a face value, especially when confronted with creative types. They clothe themselves in irony, jest, and shock for effect. It is better to assume ignorance (and classlessness) than malevolence.

I would also note that it is possible to like the art without liking the artist. Art is a transcendent feat of humanity, but sometimes part of that task is to see the flaws its creator and accept them.

We must keep in mind the humanity of artists, as well as the other captains of industry, and judge ourselves by the same principles that we judge them by. Why does it matter if a movie producer transgresses the law if a truck driver can get away with it?