Yesterday, the nominations for the Academy Awards were announced. On that list were many fantastic movies that barely anyone, besides the Academy, has seen. Many people expected to see James Franco nominated for the "Best Actor" award, after he just won "Best Comedic Actor" at the Golden Globe Awards for his role in "The Disaster Artist". James Franco, however, was not included on the list in any capacity for this years Academy Awards.
In October, I laid out my thoughts on separating art from the artist. Now I feel like it's a good time to examine this idea again given James Franco's snub at The Oscars.
James Franco is a terrific conduit to rethink my original argument of separating art from the artist, because his situation goes above my original argument. In my October article, I stated that it didn't matter personally if you chose to watch or participate in the art of a particularly abhorrent artist/celebrity, because it came down to your own morality. James Franco's snub changes the way I originally looked at this because it has nothing to do with personal morality.
The Academy Awards are meant to be a celebration for the best performances, in-front of and behind the camera, of the past year's films. I didn't see "The Disaster Artist", so I can't have an opinion on James Franco's performance, but a lot of critics laud his portrayal of Tommy Wiseau. It shocked multiple news outlets to find out that he wasn't nominated, even after winning a Golden Globe for the part.
Many people speculate that James Franco was snubbed from a nomination because of the sexual misconduct allegations that have come up against him. Maybe his performance wasn't going to be nominated anyway, but with the #metoo and #timesup movement being such a massive presence at award-shows lately; it's not unfair to say that his snub is connected to his sexual misconduct allegations. This is where I have questions again about art and the artist that created it.
Oscars are viewed as the highest honor you can give to a film or performance, solely based on how that specific category was served. Since James Franco wasn't nominated, does this mean that the Academy is potentially violating their own purpose because they are refusing to separate James Franco's performance from James Franco?
This is a tricky question. As I said above, it's not 100% sure that James Franco didn't receive a nomination because of his sexual transgressions; but if he was, the Academy made a choice against what they say they stand for.
I'm not saying it's wrong that the Academy would take a stance against alleged sexual predators, but the territory becomes murky when you think of what the Oscars stand for.
The character James Franco played didn't (allegedly) commit sexual misconduct against someone; James Franco did. Is it fair, as critics of art, to potentially not honor a performance that might have been the best of the past year?
I don't have an answer for any of the questions I'm asking, but I honestly would love to know where the line for something like this is. I don't want people who sexually assault others to win honors, but I also can acknowledge when a certain performance is better than another. My own personal conviction isn't important now, what is important is if the people, known as "the Academy", are able to put their own convictions aside when selecting who they will honor (or if they should).