Should we separate the art from alleged sexual abusers?
via AP

Should we separate the art from alleged sexual abusers?

#SeparateTheArt
#BoycottTheArtToo
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Eight women have accused Morgan Freeman of sexual misconduct, and he's just one of a number of high-profile celebrities to face sexual assault allegations. Hollywood has been cleaning house of celebrities and executives accused of sexual assault, thanks to the #MeToo movement and the downfall of Harvey Weinstein. Many actors have been fired from movies and TV shows. But like R. Kelly's music or Woody Allen's movies, skeptics are debating if they should separate the art from the artists. What do you think?

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Screen legend Morgan Freeman is just one of a number of high-profile celebrities accused of sexual assaults, and the debate on whether or not we should separate the art from the artist rages on. BBC reported on Freeman's accusations, who later issued an apology:

Freeman apologised to "anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected".
"Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy," he said in a statement.
Making women feel uncomfortable was "never my intent", he said.

Freeman is just the most recent male in Hollywood accused of sexual assault. Bill Cosby, Bryan Singer, Casey Affleck, Nate Parker, R. Kelly, Woody Allen, Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein are just a few of the powerful men in Hollywood who have been outed in recent years as sexual predators in Hollywood. The conversation about the sexual assault of women in Hollywood, and across society, is arguably more mobilized than ever. Some of these men's careers continue to flourish, others have been dented. As the list of famous men being outed as sexual predators continues to grow, skeptics are debating if we should separate the art from these artists or boycott the art too.

Some skeptics argue art has imitated real life. In the case of R. Kelly and Allen, their work reportedly details their sexual abuse. But in the case of Cosby or Parker, their best pieces of work aren't about them as artists. Many fans still argue "The Cosby Show" is a classic family sitcom which paved the way for other black family sitcoms, regardless of Cosby. Others argue the work is tainted and supporting the art is only enabling abusers. Still, some skeptics agree that these cases vary from artist to artist.

Indiewire asked different critics if art should be made separate from the abusers. Here's what a couple said:

Candice Frederick (@ReelTalker), Hello Beautiful, Birth.Movies.Death, The Mary Sue I think this answer will vary from person to person, and I don’t necessarily think there is a wrong answer. For me, as hard as it is sometimes, I can separate the artist from his/her film. I do, however, think there is often a clear agenda an artist has when it comes to his/her work, which can influence the narrative they choose to present and their characterizations. But in the case of Weinstein and even Allen, the thought is always in the back of my head; What were the circumstances around the making the movie? What drew the actor to work with this person? But do I judge the film based off the filmmakers personal actions? No. Do I judge the filmmaker outside the film? Absolutely.
Christopher Llewellyn Reed (@chrisreedfilm), Hammer to Nail/Film Festival Today The simple answer to the question is that the art should speak for itself. It is never that simple, however. Am I able to watch films by Roman Polanski or Woody Allen without considering their makers’ deeply problematic histories? Perhaps some can; I cannot, though since I grew up appreciating Woody Allen before his own scandals erupted, I have a harder time dismissing his pre-1990s work than I do all of Polanski’s movies, since the experience of watching them was part of my growth as a cinephile. And therein lies part of the problem: it is very hard to disassociate oneself from past pleasant memories, even when they become tainted for the most legitimate of reasons. Witness the difficulties faced by accusers, not only of public figures but also within families, when they come forward. No one likes to be forced to change their mind about someone.

Danny Masterson released a statement after he was dropped from "The Ranch" back in December. According to People, he said:

“I am obviously very disappointed in Netflix’s decision to write my character off of The Ranch,” Masterson said in a statement via his rep obtained by PEOPLE. “From day one, I have denied the outrageous allegations against me. Law enforcement investigated these claims more than 15 years ago and determined them to be without merit. I have never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one. In this country, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, in the current climate, it seems as if you are presumed guilty the moment you are accused. I understand and look forward to clearing my name once and for all. In the meantime, I want to express my gratitude to the cast and crew that I’ve worked so closely with over the past three seasons. I wish them nothing but success. I am also so thankful to the fans that have supported me and continue to do so.”

Masterson was only one of a few stars that people had difficulty with separating the art from the artist.

Some agree you can separate the art from the artist... sometimes. 

Critics have pointed that famous white men in Hollywood have gotten off the hook, more than artists of color, until very recently. Casey Affleck won an Oscar in 2017 following sexual assault allegations. But Nate Parker's film "The Birth of Nation" tanked in 2016, and his career was ruined after rape allegations from the late '90s resurfaced.

Boycotting art is a complex situation for some people. But supporters believe if you boycott one sexual abuser, you should boycott them all—even if you originally liked the artist.

"Separate the art from the artist" can also help the sexual abuser still thrive. Therefore, advocates against sexual assault are not buying the argument.

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