Should the work stand on its own?


Should we ignore Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, Marlon Brando, Rolling Stones, …
Very difficult subject


I have no interest in the work of any of those people. OK, the Stones is a tough one, but I can live without them, while acknowledging their influence.

On the topic of Woody Allen:

To me, this is not all that complicated or tough! We don’t owe these people anything. Whether we choose to pay attention to them or not is entirely our own decision. Why is it so controversial to say “I find this person’s behavior reprehensible, and this influences my perception of their work in a negative way”?


Yes. (20 characters of ‘is art more valuable than ethics?’)


miles davis is personally one of these artists i struggle with a lot. but its also just weird how it can boil down to ones selfish interest. giving up synthrotek products is easy. miles davis’ “on the corner” album on the other hand, would be damn near impossible. yet as far as my information goes, miles did arguably way worse shit than write a grotesque & idiotic IG post. it’s weird and i feel very conflicted about this personally.


absolutely. I think this is actually the more interesting question, because it implicates everyone rather than singling out those who are clearly in the wrong, which in a way lets everyone else off the hook. IMO the answer is no, we can’t separate the art from the artist, not just for kenye west, not just for female and “ethnic” artists, but for all artists, including white men, and I think that this does have significant repercussions with regards to how we make and think about art.

Morton talks about “rugged masculinity” as that which uses the facade of the natural to hide that the performance of non-performance is actually still a performance that obfuscates potentially problematic implicit normative subscriptions.

I would put Weinstein and Crosby at the extreme, ugly end of that performance spectrum, and I would almost guarantee that their justifications, even just to themselves, would eventually rely on some sort of bio-truth-y axiom regarding attraction, sexual reproduction, etc.

I’m not so sure that this is a coincidence. if we think about art functionally in terms of how it is transacting implicit normative (ie. prescriptive) conceptual content, we might sort of view it as a technique that allows others to become complicit in the artist’s normative subscriptions without that complicity being fully examined.

a work of art asks to be interpreted, and if it is good art, there is something in it that resists the completeness of any interpretation, and so it remains like a font of conceptual content, until eventually it stops being relevant, at which point it stops giving. this to me is kind of the same thing as coming to understand something of the artist’s crazy, inasmuch as their crazy is something about them that also resists interpretation (maybe it is too ugly / problematic? maybe there is no vocabulary for it yet? etc.)

hmm there is heaps more to say about this but I have to go for the moment. bbl


this is getting weird. so should i ignore works of günter grass, william s. burroughs, jean-luc godard or rainer werner fassbinder? i won’t. even if it makes me an ignorant/ unintelligent person… oh wait


Why not? There is a lot to unpack in this statement, but that is the first question that pops in to my mind.


You know the one that confuses me? David Bowie. Just really mixed feelings. And not subtle emotions. Mixed emotions that are also strong emotions.


Is appreciation of the work the same as approval of the person? Even if the person is nothing but kind and wonderful, if I saw a movie once that I liked, I’m not prepared to take that to mean I have any feelings at all about the person who made it.

In the case of Weinstein, he’s loathsome, but does that change the way we view every Miramax movie made in the 90s?


I don’t think it is a matter of ignoring their work, as much as understanding it in the context of their misdeeds, and evaluating their relevance with that in mind.

yes - that is exactly what it does.


But in what way? Will you actively avoid everything he’s produced in the past from now on? Is that fair to every other person involved in those productions, including several of the people he’s harmed?

I’m generally torn on the subject. In the case of Woody Allen, for example, I love his movies from the 70s still, but I haven’t watched any (and don’t feel comfortable doing so) since he married his girlfriend’s daughter and was alleged to have abused his own child. But, I don’t know if I follow any specific hard rule to apply to other situations.


Mindhunter talks directly to this point actually - do we ignore everything a serial killer has to say because they are morally objectionable? or do we pay attention to their “oeuvre”, and try to understand it in order to identify and prevent it?


I haven’t seen Mindhunter yet, but I have a feeling I’ll like it. But, I’m just asking the question. For a lot of people, that appears to be the natural choice, and I see declarations to that effect all the time.

My personal inclination is more towards understanding the work in light of learning about the artist’s terrible personal behaviour, still I have come across cases where my brain just shuts off to them there after.


Well you can’t really ignore something in retrospect, but I can understand how you feel about their art, sentimentally.

To be clear though, I don’t really argue for pretending art doesn’t exist, or that certain works should be wiped off the face of the planet because of their creators. For those artists still living, and making a living, without punishment or criticism…they should be ignored. The artist can not survive without society, to act against it, is to starve.


Thankfully there are artists that do fight against the unjust parts of society too. I imagine that it is much harder in Russia, though.


Let’s do that. How many Weinstein films portray women whose source of power is their victimization or their sexuality?

It’s not like some kind of clear cut moral equation though. Society can be wrong in what it values. Starvation can be noble. It can also be stupid.


No, you’re right it isn’t. And it isn’t the full picture either, there are often people…like Weinstein, who act against society, but are protected and profit. It isn’t a statement of fact…it is how I wish the world worked. The ‘troubled artist’ has a lot to answer for.


Apparently the person behind Synthrotek went to many anti-abortion protests and physically made some doctors’ work more difficult. So yeah, I’m not going to give him any money in any way as this money would end up funding things I abhor. In addition to that he seems to be an idiot with a ridiculous temperament, so that doesn’t help.

And I personally avoid any work by artists who have any kind of fascist affiliation, for example. The obvious recipients of this policy have been a number of “neo-industrial-whatever-keywords” bands, and I include Laibach in that group. I also never read Louis-Ferdinand Celine’s books because that man was a despicable piece of shit, and I’ve had long conversations about this with a friend who’s also an ardent anti-fascist and still can enjoy his books (and even sees the humanity in them). It’s kind of a personal thing, as I see it.

For me art always has a context and if that context really goes against my convictions or is too disturbing to me, then I’ll find other things to read/see/listen to. This is even more evident if the person who made the art would financially benefit from me reading/seeing/listening to the work in question.


I wrote that post. It was deleted by a moderator a couple of hours after it went up, without discussion or my consent. I’ve just added another post raising my concerns about this, having not seen this thread.

I’m going to leave that post up for the time being, but I’m happy to fold the questions raised by it into this thread, if that’s easier.


I’ve got two thoughts on this (ignoring the Synthrotek example):

A thought experiment. I painstakingly research and buy up old equipment, and make an exact note for note of the seminal techno classic ‘Strings of Life’ by Rhythm is Rhythm. Then I go back in my time machine, and destroy that work at the moment of it’s creation. And then release my version in 2017, where despite the cool pianos and strings, it has absolutely zero impact.

So if the work stands in it’s own, this shouldn’t make an difference. But for me it does, because the work can’t be separated from its context (including the creator) and the dialogue it has with the rest of ‘culture’ etc. That dialogue is essentially part of the work. So you can’t remake your music without Synthroteks modules, and you can’t undo the impact that Weinstein’s films may have had on you, but also society as a whole. I’m not sure that this is an answer (and this debate has been going on for ages i.e. Wagner).

My second thought here is there seems to be a romanticism in this thread about the role of the artist as some form of independent actor battling capitalism, the man etc. I’m no fan of that political ideology; but it’s worth remembering that this is only a relatively recent idea, and not necessarily supported by facts. From patronage in the renaissance era and beyond, to the predominance of white middle class males among the modernists, to the macho commercialisation of the abstract expressionists (my work must be housed it’s own museum); what is generally considered art is a product of privilege and capitalism more than anything else.

(I’m white, male, middle aged and middle class. I can afford a Eurorack system and time to post in this forum. There are thousands of infinitely more talented people who can’t.)