We need to stop separating art from the artist

Samantha Savery
Opinion Editor
ssavery@unca.edu

Editor’s note: If you are at all triggered by sexual assault, please use caution when reading this piece. In addition, opinions expressed in this article only represent those of the individual writer and not the editorial staff as a whole.

Hollywood is in the middle of a revolution of monumental proportions.

Slowly, women and men are coming forward to voice the sexual harassment and assault they have faced from Hollywood elite for decades. Aziz Ansari and James Franco are among the men toppling from their pedestals as victims make known the horrible crimes done upon them.

The best way for us outside of entertainment to help rock the boat? Stop separating the art from the artist.

“I feel as if it’s almost impossible to separate the art from someone who has done the things to the degree Woody Allen and others have,” said Allison Walter, a sophomore health and wellness student at UNC Asheville.

Yet there are still abusers succeeding in Hollywood with little sign of stopping.

Gary Oldman is well on his way to winning an Oscar for his role as Winston Churchill in The Darkest Hour after winning at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards. Oldman was reported for domestic abuse by his ex-wife in 2001 for allegedly beating her with a phone in front of their children.

Oldman’s portrayal of Sirius Black in the Harry Potter series meant a lot to many people I know, myself included. But the airing of his dirty laundry recently has made me rethink everything, along with the attitude J.K. Rowling has taken when asked about defending the casting of Johnny Depp in her spin-off series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Depp, a well-known actor who has a toe dipped in quite a few big film franchises, was accused of and admitted to abusing his wife Amber Heard. Heard later pledged to donate her $7 million settlement to a number of charities, including the American Civil Liberties Union, according to The Huffington Post.

Heard also used her platform to raise awareness of domestic and sexual assault with the organization Girl Gaze by creating a public service announcement on the epidemic many women — and men — face everyday.

Both Oldman and Depp were part of our childhoods, portraying film characters many of my friends found interesting and adventurous. The men who played Sirius Black and Jack Sparrow were not the suave heroes we saw on screen, but almost as bad as the villains they fought against.

Multiple men in Hollywood, including Casey Affleck, Chris Brown and Kevin Spacey, have been accused — or in Brown’s case, found guilty — of sexual harassment and domestic abuse.

This topic has been debated on and off in recent years, something Walters said she herself noticed.

“I’ve seen debate about separating the art from the artist and a lot of debate about, you know, is that even possible? Do we have to do it? What do we do with this art that was made by these predators and awful people,” Walter said. “I highly encourage people who care not to consume the art because these situations arose due to an unbalance of power.”

Alleged sexual predators Woody Allen, Harvey Weinstein, Lena Dunham, Johnny Deep and James Franco. Photo illustration by Karrigan Monk.

Walter said in consuming the art these predators made, you are keeping them in power. Luckily, powerful men are starting to get cracks in their picture perfect reputations and becoming exposed by their own victims or by journalists like Ronan Farrow, the man behind the exposure of Harvey Weinstein’s abuse of power.

Critically and socially acclaimed work, such as projects done by director Woody Allen and actress and writer Lena Dunham, are often the works people find easier to justify.

“The debate comes up so much more in critically acclaimed work, like the talent of the person who made the art who’s being accused makes it somewhat more acceptable to keep consuming their art if they’re talented enough,” Walter said.

Allen was accused of molesting his daughter Dylan Farrow — Ronan’s sister — in 1992, Dylan writing a letter detailing her abuse in 2014. Dunham wrote in her memoir about inappropriately touching her younger sister when they were children. She also said Aurora Perrineau, an actress, was lying when she accused a writer of Dunham’s show, Girls, of raping her.

Dunham is an important example in this because there are women in Hollywood who use their power over someone to cause sexual harm, even while branding themselves as feminists.

Other examples include Emma Roberts, who was arrested for domestic abuse against her boyfriend in 2013, and singer Melanie Martinez, who was recently accused of raping a former friend.

“It goes for women too, and Lena Dunham is a strong reason why we should still try our best not to consume a predator’s work,” Walter said. “If you look hard enough at those up-and-coming actresses, you can find a better role model and better representation.”

Ginny Shafer, a senior health and wellness student, said it is tough to explain her feelings on separating the art from the artist.

“It’s tough because, sometimes you can’t. I think with Woody Allen’s movies and how when you go back over and watch their art — their films, their art, their shows — you can see it, especially in things they’ve written. I don’t think you can really separate that,” Shafer said.

Shafer said her feelings varied on how much creative input and direction the predator had on a project. Walter said she has found people who agree.

“People have said in ending Louis C.K.’s movie, you’re also effecting everyone else involved in it,” Walter said. “But, I didn’t make Louis C.K. commit sexual misconduct and not all of those people are responsible for his actions.”

It may seem impossible for you to find something to watch without some predator attached to the project, but Walter said it is very possible.

“You can. It’s not as hard as you would imagine. You’ll have to look a little bit harder. I recommend looking into these groups that haven’t been as privileged as these predators. Art made by women, by people of color or by those in the LGBTQ+ community,” Walter said. “They haven’t had the opportunities to be as successful as these awful humans.”

Her recommendation for a Dunham replacement? Issa Rae and her show Insecure.

“She’s a lot more realistic and a lot more, all the characters in Girls are so incredibly annoying, but Issa Rae is a lot more real. And in consuming more art from people who haven’t had the same opportunities as the people we’ve seen who have done things that are really problematic, you’re giving them a platform,” Walter said. “With Insecure being so popular, you’re telling these networks, ‘People want to see a real show about a woman of color,’ and there will be more of them and they will be less problematic — if problematic at all.”

4 thoughts on “We need to stop separating art from the artist

  • February 13, 2018 at 11:59 pm
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    When did Depp ever admit to abusing Amber Heard??? You need to get your facts straight. He was never convicted of anything. In fact, Depp had on his evidence list over 170 pages of texts between her “witness” friends including the make up artist a day after her lying alleged incident. Screen shots of the witness lists were posted on a number of sites and he also has a picture only the Judge and her team was allowed to see which proves she was lying.

    Reply
  • February 14, 2018 at 1:35 am
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    Write Woody Allen’s name in this article is unfair, despicable and defamatory: Woody Allen have been investigated by two different states, both have said he didn’t abuse his 7 years old daughter Dylan Farrow and Woody Allen wasn’t prosecuted.

    Dylan Farrow is Ronan Farrow’s sister, whose investigation into Weinstein is at the origin of the MeToo movement. Who could accept that Ronan Farrow’s sister does not tell the truth and that she’s only a pawn in the revenge of her mother Mia Farrow, humiliated as no actress had ever been before her by the relationship and then the marriage of her adopted 19 years old daughter Soon-Yi Previn with Woody Allen?

    People saying that they know W. Allen molested his 7 years old daughter because he have a relationship with his underage adoptive daughter or because in his movie, Manhattan, a 42 years old man, interpreted by Allen, is dating a 17 years girl, are not only silly and despicable: they are also completely wrong. Not only young women are not little girls, but Woody Allen and Mia Farrow have never been married and have never lived together. Soon-Yi Previn was Mia Farrow and Andre Previn 19 years old adoptive daughter and as she has said herself, Woody Allen was never a paternal figure for her: Andre Previn was the paternal figure.

    Dr. Coates, who regularly treated the couple’s biological son, Satchel (now Ronan), from 1990 to 1992, and often conversed or met with both parents testified that on Aug. 1 Ms. Farrow called her after having learned that the affair with Ms. Previn was continuing. Ms. Farrow described Mr. Allen as “satanic and evil,” Dr. Coates said, adding that Ms. Farrow pleaded with her to “find a way to stop him.”

    Four days after that conversation, the psychologist testified, Ms. Farrow phoned again, saying that Dylan had begun complaining that Mr. Allen had abused her. Dr. Coates characterized Ms. Farrow as having been extremely calm during the call, in contrast to her agitated state in other calls.
    http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/02/23/reviews/farrow-doctor.html

    Because of Woody Allen celebrity and because he wasn’t showing remorse about his love relationship with Mia Farrow ‘s 19 years old daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, Judge Wilk’s conclusions are skewed by barely concealed revulsion toward him.

    Worst, as if that was not enough to make it biased, he was married to an attorney who advocates for abused women and children and “believes the victim”. Can you believe one second that Judge Wilk didn’t WANT Woody Allen guilty ?

    Judge Wilk was so biased against Woody Allen that he found some reasons to challenge ALL testimonies saying he didn’t abuse Dylan: the Dr. Susan Coates (a woman), the Dr. Nancy Schultz (a woman) and the Yale-New Haven team (The Yale-New Haven investigation was conducted over a six-month period by Dr. Leventhal, a pediatrician; Dr. Julia Hamilton, who has a Ph.D. in social work; and Ms. Jennifer Sawyer, who has a master’s degree in social work: they found Dylan Farrow has not been abused but could have been coached or influenced by her mother, Mia Farrow).

    At the end, Judge Wilk couldn’t find Dylan was sexually abused and Woody Allen wasn’t prosecuted.

    Woody Allen was cleared a 2nd time few months later by a different report from a different state:
http://www.nytimes.com/1993/10/26/nyregion/agency-drops-abuse-inquiry-in-allen-case.html

    Now that Moses Farrow has spoken and said that so many times he saw his mother, Mia Farrow, trying to convince his sister Dylan that she was abused, we know the Yale-Haven report was right and the Judge Wilk, wrong. Woody Allen didn’t abuse his daughter, as he has always professed since 25 years.

    Dylan Farrow has said his brother Moses Farrow is dead for her. Moses Farrow is an asian man, MeToo don’t want to hear about him.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/29/movies/mia-farrow-woody-allen-abuse.html
    https://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/feb/05/woody-allen-dylan-farrow-moses
https://ronanfarrowletter.wordpress.com/2018/01/04/moses-farrow-speaks-out/

    Reply
  • February 14, 2018 at 9:56 am
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    Depp has always denied any allegations of abuse. She never made a police report. He was never charged with anything. Each incident must be inspected independently. In the case of Johnny Depp the media keeps dragging his name in even after multiple witnesses discount Ms Heard’s story & a judge dismissed her claim with prejudice. On May 21 Ms Heard and her friend/witness claim Depp threw an iphone at Ms Heard’s face. In their declaration for the TRO the witness claimed immediately after Depp left Heard’s eye was reddening and swelling and took the picture that was submitted. They also stated that Depp was swinging a magnum bottle of red wine around damaging everything in his path and spraying wine inside and outside the condo. However a 3rd party not in the condo called 911. When LAPD arrived, Ms Heard refused to let them in. They insisted they had to inspect her. She finally reluctantly let the in the condo. Two officers stated they saw no injuries or damage inside or outside the condo. Ms Heard refused to make a report and the officers agreed one was not needed. In their declaration for the TRO neither one stated that LAPD responded. They hoped no one would find out but TMZ broke the story and LAPD stood by adamantly that there was no injury or damage to be seen. 5 other people including concierges, neighbors and security also stated they saw no bruises the next day. Ms. Heard refused to do her deposition multiple times. In the end, she withdrew her TRO claim and the judge dismissed it with prejudice. With no prenup, the couple reached a settlement agreement for the divorce only. We need to stop allowing this woman to destroy a mans career, reputation or preventing him from working. She and her friend lied.

    Reply
  • February 14, 2018 at 4:47 pm
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    The Gary Oldman “beating his wife” story is part of a smear campaign. It was proven to have never occurred years ago. It was investigated by the LAPD, the district attorney, and many others and it was shown at the time to be a complete lie. The wife was a drug addict with other problems too. She had previously also made accusations against her former husband and she lost that child to his full custody also. The result of her fabrications had a conclusion: Oldman was granted full and complete legal and physical custody of their two sons. Their mother was never allowed to see them alone again and could only have short visits with a state appointed monitor present. It is not the first time, nor will it be the last time, that a false accusation is made against a father in a bitter custody battle. But it IS a rare occurrence that the accused father gets full custody and the mother is completely removed.

    On top of which, Oldman has no pattern of abusing anyone. Almost everyone who has ever worked with or for him describes him as a genuinely kind gentleman.

    The Awards season is a tough place. And people will spread and plant stories for all kinds of reasons. And anyone can see that this is what is happening here.

    Reply

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