On April 26, 2018, Bill Cosby was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault. After years of accusations against the former actor by multiple women, he was found guilty and could face up to 30 years in prison.
Now that the trial is over and justice has been served for the accusers, what about the rest of us? Like myself, many people grew up watching "The Cosby Show" and saw themselves as part of the Huxtable family. They may have even seen Cliff Huxtable as a possible father figure. Then again, who wouldn’t? Cosby gave a wonderful performance as the loveable, babbling, oaf.
But that’s all it was. A performance. We need to understand that the characters we love on screen don’t stay that way forever.
So what do you do when your favorite actors and artists are problematic?
Some would say if the actor/singer/director/politician/person in question’s actions or beliefs do not affect you, you should be able to appreciate their art for what it is.
In response to that, I have a hypothetical: Let’s say, I show you a beautiful painting that inspires you, as well as others, to create your own art and have new ideas. Would you still admire the painting if I told you a Nazi made it? What if said Nazi was inspired by their fascism to create it? Would that distort your take on the painting and you would no longer be inspired by it, or would you repel the art and all inspirations and ideas derived from it?
I believe by supporting the artist, you are supporting their behavior if what they produce is monetized. Take Chris Brown and Johnny Depp.
Chris Brown is notorious for assaulting Rihanna when they were together and is known to have threatened or displayed abusive behavior toward many other women after the fact. The fact that so many people still support him, listen to his music, and even collaborate with him shows that people tend to side with abusers more than the abused. The same goes for Johnny Depp who was accused of domestic violence by his wife. He continues to get role after role in various movies and doesn’t seem to be hurt by his actions at all. But what should we do when he comes out in the next Fantastic Beasts movie? Boycott it? But what about the die-hard fans of the series who can’t wait to see Eddie Redmayne play Newt Scamander? Should they ignore Depp’s presence in the movie? But is ignoring them almost like saying they don’t exist? Wouldn’t that diminish the problem that there are more people like them that need to be acknowledged for their misconduct?
There are many more questions that can be asked about this topic with answers that may just lead to more questions.
Does it matter if the artist is dead? Would you still detest their work because of who the artist is?
What if the deed isn’t as extreme as physical or sexual assault?
Can art be separate from the artist to an extent?
The best way to figure out answers to these questions is to find your personal moral stance on this topic and act accordingly. If you wish to support problematic people, that’s your choice. I, for one, will not.