Great to see more and more bad men being taken down with sex scandals, more damaged women standing up for themselves and each other.
It’s like a little bit of a catchup for all of the times women were shamed out of the film industry.
But can appalling people make great art?
Caravaggio – Murderer
Painter Edgar Degas – Anti-Jewish
See: Linda Nochlin, “Degas and the Dreyfus Affair: Portrait of the Artist as Anti-Semite”, in Norman L. Kleebatt, ed., The Dreyfus Affairs: Art, Truth, and Justice, (Berekely, Calif., 1987).
Poet TS Eliot – Anti-Jewish
Poet Ezra Pound – Anti-Jewish, Fascist
Pablo Picasso – Of his seven relationships with women, two went mad as a result of his misogyny and two committed suicide
Poet Lord Byron – Incest
Playwright Jean Genet – Thief
Opera composer Richard Wagner – Anti-Jewish
Don’t even talk to me about Gustav Flaubert. Or the Medicis and their Renaissance patronage of art. OMG.
Multiple film directors in the 1970s – Cruelty to animals particularly horses
The Los Angeles suburb of Hollywood has turned movies into the greatest art form of the twentieth century, but it would be hard to describe it as a high island of moral virtue.
What’s worse, sex crime is the driver of the artistic imagination in a great percentage of films, and of course in most detective fiction. More broadly, the transgressive imagination and how it feeds, reproduces, and amplifies sex and crime as thrilling fun, remains the core engine of our popular culture.
Would these men have made great work if their great crimes had been exposed? In summary mostly they got away with it and mostly people knew about it.
I’m hoping at some point there will be some criminal charges successfully prosecuted and sentenced on one of the big sex scandals going through the U.S. entertainment industry. This surge now going through the U.S. is continuous with that ongoing through Britain with its great Police investigation Operation Yewtree and the further ongoing independent inquiry into child sexual abuse.
Otherwise without real charges sticking in a criminal court it is going to run a high risk of going the same way as the inchoate Occupy and Black Lives Matter movements and simply be a passing faded echo of the great liberative struggles of the 1970s and early 1980s.
Until then, the cultural machine of all kinds of people good and bad making great things for us grinds on, bloodied but unbowed.