What do we do with the art of monstrous men?” asked Claire Dederer in The Paris Review last month. When genius creators like Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski are also known to be criminals and abusers, does it become somehow immoral to appreciate their work? Or, by contrast, is it unacceptable not to appreciate it, to let emotions like revulsion stand in the way of a purely intellectual appreciation of skill? When Dederer finds herself unable to sit through Woody Allen’s Manhattan without nausea, is she doing right by the victims, or wrong by the auteur?
It’s an interesting thought experiment, one we keep coming back to again and again — though rarely with more urgency than in the last few years, and then especially the last few months, as more and more abusers are unmasked. Is it possible to separate the art from the artist? Is it ethical? These are the sorts of philosophical questions that launch thousands of words of text. (Here’s Pacific Standard in 2014. Read complete post on medium