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Let's Talk About... Separating Art From the Artist: A Controversial Look Into the Past & Future of Hollywood

I'm a lover of all things film & I do my best to be as objective as possible when reviewing/analyzing the medium I hold so dear.

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Separating Art from the Artist

Hello there, fellow readers. Today I’m doing something a little different with my writing, something that honestly makes me relatively nervous to write about as I know full well that I’ll be delving into rather risky and extremely controversial topics involving the Hollywood industry. For the most part, when it comes to my writing, my articles are a fairly light read; movie reviews, top favorites/least favorites, and the occasional deep dive into a film franchise here or there. Nothing too heavy. So this will be a first for me to speak out loud about some of these very touchy subjects to share with the world… and I am utterly mortified. Truth be told, I’m not sure if my words will ever see the light of day, yet I still feel the urge to write about this as I find the topic fascinating and has been on my mind for quite a good long while now. That little hairy rascal of a subject, is of course, separating art from the artist.

My goals when analyzing the ‘separation of art from the artist’ is mainly centering on distinguishing films from their filmmakers, whether it’s right or wrong to draw that line between the two when an artist sabotages their own name and the reputations they represent. Should movies be held accountable for the actions made by their creators outside of the film’s production or should audiences be able to tell the difference between fiction from reality? If a cast or crew member perpetrates a crime, should we then disregard any positive merits they might have achieved through the medium of filmmaking in the past? If so, then where do we draw the line before everything cascades out of control to the point where we’re wiping out whole chunks of cinema history and world history in general? Will these harsh reactions to one person’s deeds eventually result in practically no form of media in the world anyone is actually “allowed” to enjoy? Does it take one bad egg to ruin a cinematic experience or are there steps to possibly avoid the destruction of an artist’s entire filmography? Is it possible to appreciate a one’s art while still acknowledging the artist may not be a good person? These are just a few of the questions rattling through my brain that I would like to explore here. Hopefully if anyone is still reading this then there may be some hope others would like to join in the conversation as well.

I have asked a series of questions to a number of individuals to provide perspectives outside my own. Hopefully this will help the reader gain the best understanding possible on the subject.

I have asked a series of questions to a number of individuals to provide perspectives outside my own. Hopefully this will help the reader gain the best understanding possible on the subject.

When I bring up the topic of “separating art from the artist” in the Hollywood industry, how do you personally interpret that term and what are your feelings to

I think of it as the person who created the art. I think they should stop getting paid for their participation of that said art.

— Sherri H.

Separating art from artist in its simplest form, to me, translates as a cognitive need to understand that the creators we follow are their own individuals - even if they often represent a specific group/company/movement. As such they do have their own personal ideals, opinions, and thoughts that may not always directly reflect the people they work with or the content we enjoy.

— Sarah C.

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*DISCLAIMER*

Please, for anyone reading, keep in mind that what I say is not law and is simply one’s personal opinions on the matters at hand. This article is not meant to delve into the legalities, evidence, crimes, or dispute the facts of any case; although I will unfortunately have to bring up minor details of numerous explicit/criminal acts in order to provide context to the present conversations. Be warned that the acts described are extremely sensitive and graphic topics that may offend or upset some readers. That being said, this article will mostly be me sharing my perspective on why I think it is important that we, as a society, need to start mentally separating films from the terrible deeds wrongly associated with them. While also attempting to understand both sides of the argument and why even my point of view might be mistaken.

Do not mistake my article as an endeavor to defend anyone’s actions, especially some of these certain individuals I will be mentioning in the paragraphs to come. I know, full well, what these people have committed/allegedly committed were wrong and despicable; there is no denying that. My only issues come from when people punish or wish to publicly crucify the collaborative art made within their filmography rather than the actual person who perpetrated the atrocities. With that said, if what I’ve written so far has offended anyone, I might recommend that they stop from continuing onward into my article. However if everyone is still on board, then please join me in this very long, strange and controversial piece.

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I personally don't find it difficult, no. Though I do see how it can be easy for some to associate an artist with a certain genre, character, or trope after repeated creations with these reoccuring things. For example, people may think a particular actor must be a jerk in real life because he frequently portrays villains in movies. Vice versa, they may think an actress is sweet and loveable because she only stars in romantic comedies. Neither things are necessarily true.

— Sarah C.

I personally if I know they have been involved in a dirty crime I just boycott the art in question.

— Sherri H.

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The Spark

What sparked this article for me was completely random as I was lazily scrolling through Twitter one gloomy and rainy Tuesday afternoon [May 11, 2021] only for me to notice an odd little topic trending on the side of the page, ‘Jeepers Creepers.’ My first immediate thought, of course, was the 2001 horror film of the same name starring Justin Long. Turns out that’s exactly what the trending subject was about, a reference to the movie was made in a Tweet showing off a photo of a shadowy figure driving an old beat up truck, wearing a cowboy hat; hilariously reminiscent of the antagonist from Jeepers Creepers. At first I thought nothing of this post, other than my brief amusement witnessing the creepy yet goofy image… then I scrolled down. As I scrolled further and further down the page, the Tweets rapidly became less focused on the movie itself, but rather the creator responsible for the franchise, Victor Salva.

The original tweet.

The original tweet.

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Who Is Victor Salva?

If anyone reading this is unaware of who Victor Salva is, allow me to shed some light on the man. Salva worked in Hollywood as a writer-director for roughly thirty years mainly under the horror genre, his most notable work would be creating, you guessed it, the horror franchise known as Jeepers Creepers. He was involved with all three installments of the Jeepers Creepers movie series produced between 2001 to 2017. Victor was also involved other productions that even included filming for Disney in the mid-1990s.

Jeepers Creepers Trailer

Before all of that success though, early in Salva’s career, in 1988 he was convicted of sexual misconduct with one of his underage stars during the production of his first full length feature film, Clownhouse. Upon the revelation of Salva’s inappropriate relations with a 12 year old boy, it was also discovered that he kept multiple videotapes and magazines containing child pornography inside his home. Salva pleaded guilty to all counts he was charged with at the time, serving 15 months in a state prison on a 3 year sentence. After completing his parole in 1992, Salva was back on track making movies again until the year 2017 when the #MeToo movement had first erupted online.

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Salva's Victim

Shunning the Art

Anyways, as I continued reading through the Tweets, they briefly shifted gears from lighthearted humor on the original post to fondly remembering the Jeepers Creepers features. Which then quickly became mostly a debate on whether people should still like the movies or not on the sole basis that its creator was a convicted pedophile. Many users verbally attacked others for giving any form of praise to the movie strictly because Salva was so heavily involved in making the movies, even though most who did speak positively towards the picture never remotely mentioned the writer-director. So what do we do with this information?

It is absolutely important to separate a person from their creations. I feel it can be dangerous to assimilate a person into their art so much so that they are no longer art and artist; but a singular entity. They ARE the things they create, as opposed to reality that they are a person creating things. The danger lies in that the associations we form can be wildly untrue, and the connections might create negative or biased thoughts about a person.

— Sarah C.

For example: a director only signs up for horror movies, so he must be a pyschopath because he only creates movies with people getting murdered. Or, an actor must be happy because they star in a lot of comedies, when in reality they suffer from severe depression.

— Sarah C. (Continued)

Is it right to dismiss the quality of a wretched man’s art? Or should we look at the film exclusively on its own and judge it accordingly on what it actually has to offer? In all honesty, this is a rather difficult argument to settle. Maybe at the end of the day it’s all about the context surrounding the art and scenarios being discussed. On one end of the debate we have people who claim if anyone supports the product, despite the quality of said product, they are guilty of supporting the creator. To an extent, I suppose that is a fair parallel. People who watch and praise the man’s work are unintentionally supporting him; as favorable word of mouth spreads, so too does views and sales of the product, which in turn more than likely winds up in the pockets of said creator unless there’s been legal acts enabled to prevent it. At least that’s what we all can assume.

On the other side of this quarrel, we have those who claim people should be able to choose for themselves what to think about a movie. Also reminding everyone to realize that a film is never just one man’s work as there are literally dozens, if not hundreds, of other men and women who contribute to the piece as well. Again, another fair stance taken. Yes, the writer and director are very important pieces to any production, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only ones who worked their asses off to finish that picture. Not to mention, the writers and directors aren’t the only ones who suffer the consequences either when support of their hard work tragically concludes.

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I personally do see the person who is in question in the movie and make my choice not to watch all together if known.

— Sherri H.

While every movie is the result of a combination of efforts from teams of hundreds of people, there will always be those who stand out more than others. Everyone remembers Aladdin, but it was Robin William's voice acting that made the movie so memorable and quoteable even 20 years later. Then there are movies like Titanic, where we all remember that it was Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslett staring, and that James Cameron directed it.

— Sarah C.

But it's the Celine Dion song that is usually one of the first things people remember most. I think it's an unintentional association with projects. Sure we all know that movies are a team effort, but no one ever knows the name of the key grip or caterer.

— Sarah C. (Continued)

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It’s Just a Horror Movie… Made By a Monster!

Another strangely interesting argument brought up in the multitude of Tweets on Jeepers Creepers was the quality of the films. Some say the movies are still effective at being scary to them, despite the association held with Salva. One person discussed how he doesn’t even care for any of the Jeepers Creepers movies as he found them to be pretty bad, yet he still stood up for the side defending their fondness of the franchise, so long as it wasn’t directed towards Salva of course. Then came a rather unique perspective that I hadn’t quite pondered before; someone mentioned the fact that these are horror movies centered on the premise of a predator hunting down young men as it craves devouring their flesh… that’s surprisingly rather off-putting when I think about it. Especially since Victor was the only person who wrote the story and screenplay of all three entries. Admittedly it’s somewhat hard disconnecting fiction from reality when there is so much subtext written in mirroring the disturbing desires of this horrid man.

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Then again, as someone else brings to light, it’s a horror movie. A horror movie is supposed to be creepy and disturbing. At no point does the movie ever seemingly paint the creature or its motivations in any positive light as it is always made perfectly clear that it is undoubtedly the antagonist and should not be applauded. Plus, let’s be honest, this premise of cannibalistic monsters targeting the youth has been recycled for decades; making this a pretty generic baseline of a retread, even by 2001’s standards. Although when that unnerving bit of context is still known about the writer’s possible mindset during his creative process, thinking on how he once viewed and preyed on the youth, how can one forget it?

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I suppose it’s up to the viewer themselves to decide whether they can or can’t enjoy a movie knowing all the unsettling details. In my opinion, the first Jeepers Creepers remains a fun and creepy flick that I have enjoyed watching on occasion. Even though I understand the people who can’t enjoy it anymore and their reasons, I don’t particularly agree with those individuals who tell others that they’re not allowed to enjoy it either. Regardless of whether I like the film or not, I definitely don’t and won’t ever condone the actions of its creator from all those years ago.

Why Some Won't Support Jeepers Creepers

So That’s One… Out of Several More.

Alright, so that was one case… but there are so many more sinister cases involving similar dilemmas. What are we to do? Do we take it case by case or should there be a fast-acting blanket form of rebuttal to when our stars have a fall from grace? Keep in mind, this is not simply one form of artist that we’ve run into circumstances like this; writers, directors, producers, actors, etc. have all been found guilty of one thing or another in their time. Before, during, or after the production of the several films they were a part of, these individuals were consorting in awful deeds. What are we to do with the art they’ve left behind?

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I would agree only because I myself wouldn't watch and contribute to the money they make. I know I am only one person, but if I even contributed 1¢ to that person it would be too much. For me it's very easy to dismiss movies or even music due to my strong opinion.

— Sherri H.

Completely disagree. As we touched on in previous questions, a movie is a compilation of hundreds of people working together to accomplish one goal. Refusing to watch, shunning, (or in extreme cases banning) movies with accused participants is an enormous disrespect to the dozens of other people who worked hard and put their heart and soul into the project who had nothing to do with the controversy.

— Sarah C.

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The Big Fish

Let’s talk about the gigantic fat piece of sh*t elephant in the room; the guy we all know and hate which is Harvey Weinstein. Many would argue there is currently no higher power in making movies outside of the producer’s chair, sadly Harvey Weinstein absolutely abused that abundance of power to horrific effect. A man who accumulated an insane amount of power over his 30+ year career in Hollywood as a movie producer, while also manipulating people with that power behind closed doors. In the last few years Weinstein has been tried and convicted with literally dozens of criminal charges including sexual harassment, assault, and rape. Thankfully Harvey has been found guilty on some of the charges and sentenced to 23 years in prison as of 2020, with likely more convictions to come.

Weinstein Sentenced

In a lot of ways, Weinstein’s crimes are what initiated this domino effect in the first place. Because of the several brave women who came out to accuse Weinstein of his awful misconduct, that subsequently created the hashtag campaign known as #MeToo; referring to possibly hundreds, maybe thousands of people who were encouraged to speak aloud about their own stories of being sexually mistreated by men in power. Because of this movement, many assholes in the Hollywood industry were revealed as the monsters they really were. In my opinion, this is utterly fantastic and I’m glad these people wronged were finally able to find their voice to stand up to the oppressors taking advantage of them.

What started it all.

What started it all.

Unfortunately the charges bestowed on these disgusting men are slowly becoming merely a stepping stone in bringing the offenders down socially as well as criminally, as it appears the next step is to target the films and television shows they’re associated with; again, referring to individuals like Victor Salva. Nowadays, the internet has become a very big fish maintaining a large presence in the Hollywood industry. The internet, like many tools, can be used to do some real good yet also has the potential to harm with its unforgiving and vindictive attitudes; especially when it comes to what we refer to presently as ‘Cancel Culture:’ a somewhat determined group of mostly good-willed individuals trying to clean up the filth in our current pop culture, “canceling” certain individuals who may have done wrong by today’s standards whether it be criminally or ethically. However, there are more than a handful of examples where Cancel Culture has gotten wildly out of hand due to many times they forget that they’re playing with people’s lives while they treat celebrities less like a person and more like their toys, disregarding context of topics in order to escalate nonexistent issues, not to mention trying to erase the filmographies of some Hollywood stars as they see any support of their art as automatically morally wrong.

Although it seems that so far this ‘canceling’ mentality has been a relatively minor side effect of a good cause, I can’t help from worrying if this snow ball effect persists how the damage might eventually outweigh the good. How big will this fish become before it consumes everything? Where do we draw the line?

Down the Rabbit Hole

Looking at the side of this whole debate claiming the only way to truly put a stop to the evil-doer’s reputations are by fully eradicating the art they’ve distributed, which isn’t exactly an easy thing to do while also somewhat misguided in my eyes. Sure, it might be feasible to some degree, at least with smaller fish such as Victor Salva. Except when we start down this path, we’d then have to focus our efforts on the much larger picture. Going back to Harvey Weinstein who produced legitimately hundreds of projects; including but not limited to Pulp Fiction, Scream (all sequels included), Mimic (all sequels included), Cop Land, Princess Mononoke, Air Bud, Good Will Hunting, Jackie Brown, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (also the Rob Zombie Halloween installments), Scary Movie (all sequels included), Spy Kids (all sequels included), Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring/The Two Towers/Return of the King, Equilibrium, Gangs of New York, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 & 2, Bad Santa, Sin City, Clerks II, Rambo (2008), Zack and Miri Make a Porno, The Fighter (2010), Django Unchained, Silver Linings Playbook, Paddington, Lion (2016), Wind River, The Hateful Eight, and many more!

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Weinstein’s fingerprints have been scattered throughout the movie making business for a very long time, nearly 40 years, and with that comes a large responsibility on our own shoulders. This man has produced a mass amount of productions that are influential to hundreds of artists around the world who were inspired to pursue their own paths into filmmaking. Yes, as I’ve said before, no single person is solely responsible for any movie being made. But that doesn’t change the fact that Weinstein was still part of the production processes somewhere within these titles, the severity of his influence obviously ranges from one project to the next, yet his name remains in the credits all the same. And no, I don’t think it counts if his producing credit is stricken from every single movie around the globe because he is still part of the artwork existing at all.

If we are to adopt the mindset of a “total cleansing” of pop culture, then that means possibly destroying a lot of history we hold so dear. Cinematic history that has touched possibly millions of minds and souls in our lifetime, creating a strive inside of artists to do the same for others. And this is only from one single person’s own filmography we are aware of as there are still several names on the ‘cancel’ list I haven’t even mentioned yet; such as Joss Whedon, the famed writer-director who brought us Marvel’s The Avengers back in 2012 has been recently accused of very appalling and verbally abusive behaviors during the reshoots of 2017’s Justice League.

Joss Whedon Allegations

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Not sure how to answer this one. I shamefully only pay attention to the people I am watching.

— Sherri H.

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The Whedon Cut

Now we’re getting into some real hectic webs when we bring up Whedon’s name because not only would we have to rethink our positions on his contributions to the ever-popular Marvel blockbusters like The Avengers, Age of Ultron, Captain America: The First Avenger as well as The Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy… we’d also have to reassess many other classics and cult classics he’s helped create over the years starting with Toy Story (yes, THAT Toy Story), Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly (he also directed the follow-up movie Serenity), Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, and The Cabin in the Woods to name a few.

So if proven guilty of threatening his cast members or manipulating his power to bully them, what are we to do then with Whedon’s entire filmography that’s been cherished and celebrated for over 25 years now? Do continue honoring the art we’ve determined as being separate entities from their creator? Or should we begin phasing out these titles under Joss Whedon’s belt in order to truly cut all ties from supporting the artist? Even though he’s clearly not the only person who would be included in this punishment as thousands of innocent associates would too face some repercussions. Hard to say, even from my point of view as I side more with keeping the media that’s been interwoven into so much of our pop culture we know today. Although it appears that both conclusions come with a certain level of tolerance of necessary evils. To keep the films and TV shows that have influenced so much of our recent history would inadvertently risk supporting those who don’t deserve it. Or doing away with it all might actually risk losing so much more from an artistic standpoint. Not just the entertainment value provided by each production, but all the good that has also stemmed from these pictures existing; along with any potential future inspiration to sprout from their positive influence either. To me, the latter is much worse.

One of my favorite movies is the 2005 remake of the Mel Brooks classic, The Producers. The film stars Uma Thurman, Nathan Lane, Will Ferrell, and Matthew Broderick - who straight up killed not one, but TWO people in 1987 (and apparently still refuses to meet with the family to reconcile for it, even to this day.)

— Sarah C.

Is that a terrible thing? Absolutely. One million percent terrible. And it's also crazy to think that this horrifying thing happened to one of Hollywood's most loveable and cherished actors, and yet most people don't know about it - maybe because people have decided that his work in the movies they love outweigh the things he's done.

Regardless of this knowledge, I still think it's a fantastic movie, and I laugh every time; even after all these years.

— Sarah C. (Continued)

Favorite movie is Return To Me. I can watch that movie over and over . This move makes me feel like miracles do happen and anything is possible. True love can exist and overcome almost anything. Yes, {if the lead became a controversial figure by committing a crime} it would change how I feel about the movie, actor or actress. I then would not revisit the movie with deep sadness the person could do that.

— Sherri H.

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Change Is In the Air

As the Hollywood industry has evolved over the years, so too has their awareness of the public conscious and their interests. In that time, the thunderous opinions of the internet has only gotten louder. Within the last few years we’ve seen how much the internet can truly influence entire film productions to either spring into development overnight or grind to a halt indefinitely. One of the most noteworthy internet campaigns to ignite change in the Hollywood system is the very recent success of #ReleaseTheSnyderCut. It took thousands of dedicated fans a few years to achieve their goal, but as of March 2021 they accomplished what most assumed was a silly dream; the untampered with vision of Zack Snyder’s Justice League four hourlong edition.

In case anyone is unaware of the story, here it goes! During the initial production of Justice League back in 2016 to 2017, Snyder and his family were struck with a terrible tragedy with the abrupt loss of his daughter, resulting in the mourning director to forfeit his role as director after the majority of the picture was already completed. Leaving the studio to subsequently hire Marvel’s Avengers director, Joss Whedon, to take on directing duties for the remainder of production. What wound up happening under Whedon’s lead was a large number of re-writes and reshoots, as well as significant cutting down of the overall intended story within the editing room to trim the narrative back to exactly a two hour runtime.

"Josstice League" Trailer

When the 2017 theatrical release of Justice League failed to wow audiences, many calling it a “Frankenstein monster of a movie,” resulted in a large online campaign from the public insisting that Warner Bros. release what they referred to as “The Snyder Cut.” Over the course of three years, the campaign only grew stronger until Warner Bros. finally gave into their demands in mid-2020 after a few dirty secrets came to light on Whedon’s handling of the reshoots. So for the first time ever in movie making history was a film put back into production a mere few years after its theatrical release with the intent to capture its “original true form,” as well as trying to rectify a mistake that never should have happened in the first place. As of May 2021, Snyder’s version has seemingly done extremely well on WB’s streaming platform (HBO Max) and the fans have only clamored in praise for the Snyder Cut. Many of the fans have also started up a new campaign in Snyder’s name called #RestoreTheSnyderVerse… we’ll see how that one goes.

To some, this may seem like an odd detail to bring up. So why would I? Well, I’m glad I asked myself this question. Thanks, me. In all seriousness though, this is a huge example of how times are changing as the ‘power-all’ appears to be shifting from the studio heads to what the general public demands. Also keep in mind this Snyder Cut was no quick task and it certainly didn’t come cheap as WB actually spent an additional 70 million dollars in order for Zack Snyder to actually restore and produce his four hourlong epic. Don’t forget that this 70 million budget is only adding on top of the original production costs, as well as the reshoots, totaling all-together approximately 370 million dollars! Basically what WB did was fund this one single movie to be made three separate times, all because the fans relentlessly asked for it… well, that and the fact that WB’s ass was under a bit of fire when Ray Fisher (actor who portrayed Victor Stone/Cyborg) made it known some of the terrible practices going on while Justice League was being made… the second time.

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Blue Devil

Alright, so we’ve seen how internet culture has the power to change things for the better when it comes to chasing after the original artistic integrity of a film… how about when they try correcting a filmmaker’s vision? Way back in 2019, the world was treated to the first ever sneak peek trailer for the classic Sega character receiving his introduction into a live-action feature, Sonic the Hedgehog… and everyone HATED it! When I say “hated,” that is not to be taken lightly as quite literally everyone who witnessed Sonic’s brand new and somewhat creepy design, the trailer was instantly ripped to shreds by word of mouth so viciously that the studio quickly scrambled to tell the populous that Sonic will be receiving a redesign effective immediately. No joke, if I remember correctly, that huge change to Sonic’s look was announced within days of the original trailer dropping. Personally, I can’t recall a single time there’s been such an outrage against a trailer that the filmmakers actually committed to changing their most important character’s design simply to appease the fans. Holy hell!

Original Sonic Trailer

On one end, yes, the design that appeared in the original trailer looked pretty bad and the redesign for a more accurate depiction was less unintentionally frightening to look at. Overall the film seemingly went decently with audiences and obviously did financially well since a sequel was greenlit shortly after its theatrical release; in fact, I’m pretty sure principal photography just wrapped for Sonic the Hedgehog 2 within the last couple weeks. On the other hand, the internet had a kneejerk reaction to a trailer featuring a special effect that wasn’t exactly finished yet and they also didn’t even wait to see the movie in its entirety before judging. In my opinion, the artists working on the project should be more in charge of the end product shown on the big screen, yet it is hard to deny this change may have actually saved the movie as a whole. Seems like the Blue Devil meets a very gray line.

Admittedly, it is an improvement.

Admittedly, it is an improvement.

The Sonic redesign was justified. That thing was pure nightmare fuel... But I digress.

— Sarah C.

To put things into perspective on how this is a big change when it comes to the studios reactions to public opinions on their movies before the film has even released… think back to the late ‘80s when WB announced that for Tim Burton’s Batman they were casting Michael Keaton in the titular role and everyone at the time also tore that movie a new one before a single promo shot was ever taken. The mere mention of Michael Keaton, mainly known for his roles in Mr. Mom and Beetlejuice, was going to play the dark and always brooding Batman?! In their eyes, Michael Keaton is the funny guy who ran away from a frikkin’ vacuum cleaner only a few years prior; how in the hell is he supposed to be a superhero badass?? Fans wrote thousands of letters to Warner Bros. to complain that Keaton was the wrong choice to play Batman. Turns out the people were wrong as the studio and filmmakers ignored those unfounded fears.

Casting Batman

Now, don’t start thinking that I’m claiming 2020’s Sonic the Hedgehog movie as being on the same level as ’89 Batman… no. Just… just no. However, I am saying that it is a tiny bit concerning to think that just because the general public makes a bit of a stir nowadays online, that could now initiate whole changes to a production. Maybe it’s a good thing, maybe it’s a slippery slope that’ll launch more changes down the line. Either way it should always be kept in check.

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A Show Dog’s Balls

Before the days when blue hedgehogs and “Snyder cuts” roamed the Earth, there was actually a little movie controversy stirred up back in 2018 with the family picture dud known as Show Dogs! Don’t remember Show Dogs? Good for you. Here’s a brief synopsis: Will Arnette plays an undercover cop who teams up with a talking dog voiced by Ludacris in a sh*tty low-brow kids movie rip-off of the ‘90s TV show Tequila and Bonetti, but without any of the cheesy charm or radically dark tonal shifts… which makes this movie intolerable to sit through. Not to mention Show Dogs easily made it onto my Worst of 2018 Movie List.

Now that we’re all caught up on what the movie is about, let’s move onto the skinny of the mind-numbing controversy! Venturing back when weekly releases in the movie theaters were still a thing, Show Dogs was greeted by many families duped into watching its garbage material in the cinemas. Although it seemed that a large quantity of parents, namely bored household mothers, found one scene particularly upsetting. The scene revolves around a genital inspection that’s actually performed on real show dogs to verify gender; in order for the Ludacris dog to overcome his apprehensiveness in receiving this inspection, he is told to go to his “happy place.” Nothing graphic is ever shown on screen, this scene was simply used as a very cheap and lame joke. A joke solely written for those whose brains haven’t fully developed a good sense of humor yet.

Deleted Controversial Scenes

However, the moms of America felt the doggy testicle inspection was a metaphor to portray child grooming and molestation in a positive light. One might assume that these parents would attempt initiating a mature conversation with their children on the subject, telling their child that if they ever do come across a situation where they feel uncomfortable with an adult or are ever touched inappropriately then they should immediately run away to report it… or simply NOT show their kids Show Dogs! No, of course that’s not what they did. That’s the logical approach. Instead what happened was the moms threw a hissy fit until the studios legitimately pulled a Stanley Kubrick move by taking the film out of theaters, replacing it with a re-edited version without the scene intact.

Controversial Reaction

To me, this is a dangerous territory we’re treading on. Regardless of the quality of any film, including the terrible ones such as Show Dogs, there’s no excuse to cut out whole scenes only within a few days of being theatrically released. Especially in a desperate attempt to appease some bitchy moms who don’t know how to parent their own children. And yes, I have seen the scene in question; it’s dumb and eye-roll inducing, but at no point did I think to myself, “My God, this is teaching children such terrible lessons and must be stopped!” No. It’s just another mindlessly stupid scene with a moronically juvenile sense of humor that goes along seamlessly with the rest of the feature. In my opinion, it’s one of the furthest elements about Show Dogs I’d ever consider to being dangerous. Moral of the story here is if people want their children to ingest good quality entertainment with solid humor and intelligent themes then stop showing them the stupid sh*t that obviously makes its low-brow tone apparent in ALL of its marketing… dumbasses!

Show Dogs Trailer

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We Need to Talk About Kevin… Spacey.

There was absolutely no way in hell I could discuss the topic of ‘separating art from the artist’ without mentioning Kevin Spacey at some point. Especially since he’s one of the very few examples of being completely severed from the art quite literally. Traveling further back in time into the year 2017, Kevin Spacey was set to play J. Paul Getty in the true-life biopic thriller, All the Money in the World. In fact, Spacey wasn’t only set to play Getty, principal photography had already been wrapped and the film was in the can; all ready for the editing room… that is until numerous sexual misconduct allegations were brought against Kevin Spacey in late October; leaving the studio only two months to figure out what in the hell to do with their movie which focuses significantly around scenes with a child actor “alone” in the presence of a now alleged child molester. Yikes!

Original Trailer

Trailer After Reshoots

Now try to keep in mind that Spacey at the time, and still to this day, has not been officially convicted of any charges yet; although there still maintains a few court cases to be resolved, he’s technically not proven guilty for the time being. That being said, his 2017 film [All the Money in the World] had the troublesome context that Spacey now brought to the picture; a rumored child molester co-starring in numerous scenes with a young boy. Guilty or not, one could imagine how audiences would feel during those specific scenes as it would undoubtedly sully the mood and tone intended.

Crime Charges Dropped

The filmmakers came to a quick conclusion that all of Kevin Spacey’s footage needed to be scrapped, while also recasting the actor with another to take on the role; resulting in a substantial number of reshoots taking place within the span of only 9 days. NINE! This is practically unheard of in Hollywood history. Yet in this case, I believe that the intent was reasonable why the director and producers would take such drastic measures. Regardless of if Spacey turns out to be innocent or not, I don’t think anyone could watch that specific film with the massive level of discomfort most would likely feel knowing what he’s being accused of. Plus, it resulted in the salvation of another good movie under director Ridley Scott’s belt while also providing Christopher Plummer (the actor who replaced Spacey) an admirably fantastic performance. Not many actors can pull off what Plummer had to do, practically giving an Oscar worthy performance in a leading role at the very last second of production within the course of a single week.

Funny enough, Ridley Scott himself, the director who removed Spacey from All the Money in the World made the argument in an interview how there shouldn’t be any reprimanding of Kevin Spacey’s art as it should be allowed to flourish among the people. Despite what Spacey may have committed, the accusations that cost him a major role in the 2017 picture and almost jeopardized everyone’s hard work, Scott still retained the side of the debate fighting for art to prevail through the dark cloud that may hover over it.

Ridley Scott/Christopher Plummer Interview

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Deep-Faking Our Way Out

So I suppose that’s one case where I sided with altering art by removing the artist’s fingerprint entirely because attempting to mentally separate art from the artist may have been too tasking in this specific circumstance [All the Money in the World]. However what about the rest of Kevin Spacey’s filmography? We’ve seen what the power of the internet is capable of when making demands toward Hollywood, we’ve seen entire redesigns of lead characters, and actors snipped out of whole films to be replaced by another. What if it does turns out that Spacey is guilty, what do we do with his very long line of movies dating back to 1986? Do we scrap them? Disregard Spacey ever existed in order to not support the art he’s contributed to? What if there’s another questionable tactic?

With technologies advancing in the medium, who’s to say Spacey can’t be digitally replaced in all his movies? One may chuckle at the idea, but I’ve seen how “deepfakes” have progressed over the last couple years. Starting off as novelty gimmicks for YouTube clips to change out a celebrity’s face with another, nowadays they’re already being utilized by studios in order to bring a younger looking Luke Skywalker back to newly running television programs. What’s stopping studios from possibly erasing Kevin Spacey’s face altogether in past productions and replacing it with other actors? Obviously they couldn’t do that with pre-existing DVDs/Blu Rays or anything like that. However, since the world is vastly shifting into watching their movies and TV shows almost exclusively on streaming sites, that could easily be how studios “rectify” the problem.

Luke Skywalker Mandalorian Scene

Obviously this would take a lot of work and money to pull off, something I doubt most studios would invest their time in, although not impossible. There are thousands of determined artists out there in the world that would probably still happily do it. Truthfully, I don’t believe this concept is too far from being a reality as we’ve already seen how the Disney+ streaming service has given their own properties “digital touchups” and general changes with titles like Splash, Toy Story 2, Adventures in Babysitting, The Mandalorian, Lilo and Stitch, The Simpsons, The Lion King, etc. In the case of Splash, they used a little digital trickery to hide an actress’s ass… the end result is quite hilariously bad. Most recently, in an early episode from the second season of The Mandalorian, there was a stagehand present in the background of a shot; literally within a week or so, the episode was digitally altered to not show the minor flub anymore.

Splash: Original Scene vs. Disney Version

Mandalorian Jeans Guy Digitally Removed

From my point of view, these are some of the small steps that have already been taken which could possibly lead to drastic changes to film and television as we know it today. Will there come a time when almost nothing is held sacred as anything could be altered at any point? Me personally, I don’t like this idea one bit of changing past productions as I think it would actually jeopardize the artistic integrity of any movie if given this experimental treatment. No matter how the verdicts turn out on Spacey’s behalf, or anyone’s for that matter, I’d want to see their films in their original form. The vision that was intended and made the art what it is. Call me a purist, call me what you will; I simply have trouble accepting these evolving tactics of “problem solving” if it means messing with the art I hold so near and dear to my heart. Not stating that this is absolutely the direction the tides are turning, I’m just weary of it is all.

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I never even had a clue that was a thing.

— Sherri H.

I feel like using these type of tools to de-age a living person present in a film can be a fun addition to reliving an actor/actresses' younger days, or even to save the casting director from having to find additional roles for younger versions of older characters. However, using these same things to 'bring back' actors who have passed, or to erase actors who have been fired feels completely direspectful, immoral, and even a little eerie.

— Sarah C.

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Land of the Dead & Cost of the Living

In more current news, Zack Snyder has actually had to deal with similar dilemmas as Ridley Scott did with Kevin Spacey. As production was basically all said and done on Snyder’s latest horror film, Army of the Dead, allegations arose on one of his cast members; comedian Chris D’Elia was accused of sexually harassing underage girls in June of 2020, leaving Snyder to make a move reminiscent of Scott’s, recasting D’Elia’s part and performing a number of reshoots. The reshoots were announced in August of 2020 which would involve a mixture of the newest cast member, Tig Notaro, being filmed onset as well as in front of a green screen to be later incorporated in the already existing footage during the post-production phase. All of this had been decided and completed before D’Elia had even faced trial on any charges made.

Snyder Comments on Reshoots

Actually, all charges made on D’Elia are still only allegations that haven’t been proven or disproven in court yet. Leading me to wonder why the term “innocent until proven guilty” has seemingly switched around to “guilty until proven innocent.” Then again, maybe that’s a discussion for another time. All I’ll say is that whether it turns out one way or the other, big steps have already been made to remove D’Elia from the Hollywood scene; not only was he removed from Snyder’s film before release, but also instantly dropped from his talent agency (Creative Artists Agency), had an episode of Workaholics he guest starred in removed from Comedy Central, Hulu, and Prime Video. Comedy Central also quickly removed D’Elia’s 2013 standup special White Male. Black Comic. from their site. To me, this seems a little extreme for someone who was only accused and not tried in a court of law yet.

I may very well eat my own words if it turns out Chris D’Elia is guilty, in which case I apologize. At the same time, why are we being so hasty when totally taking down a man’s whole career over what may or may not be true? If it’s true and proven in court, I can be more understanding of the matter, yet D’Elia lost everything in the blink of an eye before anything has been solved one way or the other. I really do hope that no one is mistaking my words as a defense for sexual harassment/molestation/assault/etc. because that is not my intent in the slightest. My inquiry mainly revolves around why we have stripped away the art of an artist before his day in court has been judged. It’s strange to me. No, I don’t believe that allegations such as these should ever be taken lightly; however I don’t feel comfortable with a person being delt punishment before conviction either. Seems somewhat wrong and I don’t agree with the attempt at wiping out forms of art so prematurely either. Then again, maybe he is guilty and deserves such repercussions. All I know is that a number of women have accused D’Elia of said heinous acts and he’s denied them. Seems like that’s all anyone truly knows as of the moment. [Written in May of 2021]

Having a minor mental breakdown... nothing to worry about!

Having a minor mental breakdown... nothing to worry about!

Fork in the Writing

Finding myself in a standstill in my writing. Battling my own sense of morality as this article grows longer and longer. Word by word written, I question if this is right. Am I right for asking these questions? Should I accept the world as it is and let society judge for themselves? Thinking back to where my article had started to where I am now, I ponder which way of thinking is right and which is wrong. Is it even that simple? Is there a true right or wrong when it comes to the argument of separating art from the artist? Should people still be allowed to enjoy the entertainment they know and love, the art that has inspired them to create and make a difference in the world, or does it need to be left behind entirely when the reputation of an artist has been sullied? Should we make efforts in altering the past to be a polished false version of history or should we accept the events as they truly occurred so we never forget. Isn’t the saying, “to those who forget the past are the ones doomed to repeat it?” I just wish I knew what to make of any of this.

I feel as though I’ve discussed so much while simultaneously barely putting a scratch into the subject as a whole. There’s so much to talk about yet what more can be said? This is an argument I can go around in circles for hours (and have) yet still wind up in the exact same place I started. Here’s what I know though: film is never just one person’s efforts as it is an artform made up by dozens, if not hundreds, of artists. If one artist is revealed to be the “bad egg,” be it in front of or behind the camera, should the rest suffer the consequences by having their film/series/content stricken from history? No, I don’t believe that’s remotely the right way to go about it. What do we do then?! Do we ignore a person’s evil deeds just so we can have our measly cinematic getaways? No, we shouldn’t ignore it. I’m not sure if “embrace” is the word I’m looking for, but maybe we should accept the past as it is and move onto hopefully a brighter future.

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It’s Hammer Time

Perhaps that sounds a little like me saying, “Get the f*ck over it.” I don’t mean for it to come across that way, especially in terms of the victims of these crimes previously mentioned. Yet I also don’t accept people being told they’re not allowed to enjoy a film or show any more on the basis of something like one of the actors texted a cooky fantasy of eating human flesh… in case anyone is wondering the context of that statement; actor Armie Hammer allegedly sent text messages to women revealing sexual fantasies of rape, violence, and yes… cannibalism.

Cannibal Fantasy For Hammer

Hammer has also been accused of “emotional manipulation and abuse,” along with charges of sexual assault as well. Whether these texts are authentic or the allegations are true is still up in the air. Doesn’t change the fact that we now live in a world where mentioning Hammer’s name or a movie he’s affiliated with is automatically categorized under “canceled.” As if they don’t matter or exist or warrant any form of praise or discussion anymore, Hammer’s credits are simply something we brush off to the side to avoid any form of contact; much like several other celebrities and it’s silly to me.

Am I overreacting? Probably, yet it’s difficult not to feel this way when I see it all the time online. Any time someone might describe how they enjoyed Jeepers Creepers in their youth, someone else chimes in to argue about how they’re praising a pedophile. Posts are made about people’s frustrations over not being able to recommend Armie Hammer’s movies, more or less rendering him guilty without considering the fact he hasn’t been tried yet.

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Let’s add another controversial topic, The Cosby Show, which used to be praised for literally decades on its portrayal of a black family breaking racial stereotypes in television. Yet after Bill Cosby was charged and convicted of his crimes, it’s as though everyone ignores the positivity the series once brought people over the years as if it never happened. To me that is such a shame to think about how so many writers and other actors spent eight years on that show, writing all the charmful levity and building these lovable characters from the ground up just to see its legacy get torn down a couple decades later because Bill Cosby is a terrible human being… dammit, why didn’t anyone listen to Eddie Murphy all those years ago so we could have avoided this very thing from happening?!

Eddie Murphy Mocking Bill Cosby

Where Do We Draw the Line

For the majority of this article we’ve basically only discussed the worst of the worst, some of the more extreme scenarios when it comes to wrong doing and how the public react to those actions. What about the less severe offenses? The cases that might simply offend people’s modern sensibilities, whether justified or not. Be it on the subject of political correctness or difference of opinions; where exactly do we stand when it comes to separating the art from artists in those regards? Now there are obviously examples of when the artist infuse their beliefs, opinions, politics, sensitivities, or lack thereof into their art. Writers do this all the time when knocking out their scripts. I don’t really want to tackle that as an issue as I’d rather delve deeper into the cases where the personal lives are completely separate from the professional career of an artist, yet the general public can’t seem to help themselves from putting the two together when watching their work on the big screen.

When it comes to watching an actor’s performance or a director’s new movie, the last thing on my mind is what these specific people are like in their personal lives or anything they might have done. I try going into every film with as objective a mind as possible while leaving all dispositions behind because, from my point of view, any random biases such as those have no place when critiquing an artist solely on their body of work. That is unless they bring in those elements on their own, then I suppose that slightly changes things, but other than that I don’t think there’s any reason for anyone to judge a person’s work on what the artist may or may not have done in their own private lives.

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Eddie Murphy the Bad Guy?

For a moment I would like to tell a story; I promise it’s not a long one and doesn’t have much to it, but it’s a small detail that has stuck with me ever since it happened years ago. Let me take everyone back to the year 2014 when I went to the hospital with an ex-girlfriend of mine, at the time we were together. The details of why I was there are unimportant. I recall sitting in the eerily silent waiting room for hours, sitting in cheaply designed metal chairs with thin cloth material supposedly providing “padding” as I watched the muted television playing the Nicolas Cage movie Windtalkers on TNT. The only sound to be heard in the entire room were the occasional whimpers of a child sitting behind us and the scratching of the pen at the front desk.

After hours of waiting, me and my girlfriend were finally brought into an assessment room… where we waited even longer. As we sat in yet another deafeningly noiseless room and trapped in that overwhelming scent of “hospital smell,” she brought out her phone so we could watch some random standup comedy on YouTube. Coincidentally, I think the comedian we were watching was weirdly enough… Chris D’Elia. Life is surely strange. Anyways, as a nurse walked into our assessment room to ask my girlfriend a few questions, the subject of standup comedy was naturally brought up with the nurse asking us who we found to be funny. I replied with Eddie Murphy being one of my all-time favorite comedians, to which the nurse retorted in an annoyed breathy grunt. As I attempted to inquire what her obvious issue was, she answered that she doesn’t find him funny. Being the mostly chill person I am, I responded with understanding that of course his sense of humor is not for everyone but I personally still find him to be one of the funniest comedians I’ve ever heard. Like a whip, she lashes at me with a passive aggressive comment, “Yeah, well, he doesn’t take care of his kids.” Confused by her comment, I simply give her a look that basically says, “the f*ck?!” and I dropped the topic faster than it started.

Nearly seven years have gone by and I still tend to think back to that night, wondering why that woman even went into that territory of attacking the celebrity’s character rather than critiquing his style of comedy. Especially since I have found little to no evidence of her claims being remotely factual, as it appears Murphy is a fairly attentive father to all ten of his children now. At the time I believe he was at seven or eight kids fathered. Regardless of whatever type of relationship Murphy may or may not have with his children, I don’t quite understand how that supposedly effects his work as a performer, particularly from his more famous standup work that he produced long before his days of fatherhood.

To me, either someone is funny or they’re not. It shouldn’t matter if a dude has the best parenting skills in the world or is a sh*t father that doesn’t even remember the names of his own crotch goblins. Those elements may reflect on him as a person, but not as a performer and has absolutely nothing to do with the art he’s created. To say the least, the nurse’s perspective is a very foreign concept to me that I’ve never been able to quite grasp… aside from possibly she was just a smidge racist.

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Is This How We Determine Canceling?

Will this be a manner the masses inevitably decide who and who not to “cancel?” Disregarding the quality an actor might provide in their onscreen performances, but rather how decent a parent they are is the true determining factor of who we allow to keep their acting professions? Or maybe we judge the status of a celebrity’s career on which political party they follow, whether they do or do not support certain organizations, put pineapple on their pizza. It’s ridiculous to me.

Now I totally understand and get the mentality of certain individuals have for these details as they might deter them from supporting an artist’s work depending on what type of persona they are casting out. That’s fine, no one should be forced to like or watch anyone’s material if they don’t want to. However, when those individuals start attempting to enforce others not to support artists’ work on the basis of simple difference of opinions or trivial facts that have nothing to do with the art, then I have a big fat problem going on here.

To be fair, if it’s revealed that an artist turns out to be a Nazi sympathizer then maybe it’s in everyone’s best interest that they probably don’t support that guy. But if the public starts online attacks against an actor because they weren’t the greatest partner in their relationships or they register as a Democrat/Republican… who cares? That’s their choice in their own personal lives. The public shouldn’t have any right to try taking away anyone’s career or “cancel” someone on silly aspects of a person’s life that has nothing to do with their ability to create art. Especially topics that are brought up against celebrities/actors/filmmakers that are unfounded or have context stricken in order to stir up needless trouble.

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It's an unfortunate trend, but like with most things, will eventually die out with time. Sadly right now there are a lot of people getting drunk off the power of being able to ruin someone's life with a few accusations and a tweet or two. I believe it stems from so many not seeing celebrities as real people, so the idea of 'exposing' them is just a fun game or meme. When in reality it's incredibly damaging to a person's mental health and psyche.

— Sarah C.

This of course only applies to the accusations and witch hunts that go on with zero evidence that end up having tons of memes/pop culture references made about them.

— Sarah C. (Continued)

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Gal Gadot

It’s certainly an interesting world we live in where Wonder Woman herself is at the center of a few controversies! First in early 2020 during the initial few weeks of quarantine after COVID-19 had hit, everyone was stuck at home, completely miserable and terrified of an uncertain financial income. Then during all that, the people are greeted to a well-intentioned yet slightly confused and misguided video compilation of Gal Gadot with her Hollywood pals covering “Imagine” by The Beatles. At the time, many laughed at Gadot’s desperate attempts to cheer up the world in its dark time. For myself, I thought Gadot, along with the rest, had the best of intentions in mind… they just didn’t realize the context they brought doing something like this as they are all financially secure in a world which was presently far from.

Gal's Cover of Imagine

Turns out The Beatles cover is the least of Gadot’s worries now; on May 12th, 2021 she poured her heart out on social media about the ongoing conflict and violence in Jerusalem. Sadly, instead of inspiring peace, her words sparked a large online backlash. Many shunning the actress in heated and somewhat hostile comments as she was revealed to have previously served in the I.D.F. (Israel Defense Force) for two years from 2005 to 2007. I think it should be known for complete context that in Gadot’s home country it is mandatory for all Israeli citizens to serve in the national military service once over the age of 18, and yes that does include most Israeli women too. Although it seems that rather significant detail is overlooked by most who chose to criticize Gadot for actions she had no choice in the matter of.

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Gal Attacked Online

Hate the Actress? Crucify the Character??

As the Twitter tirade went on, many condemned not only Gal Gadot, but the comic book character of Wonder Woman as well. Attacking her multiple performances as the comic book heroine and the films as a whole. Not necessarily on the merits of the films themselves, as it is extremely apparent that they are upset only by Gadot on a personal level rather than a critical one. At the controversy’s most severe, I witnessed Tweets from people who flat out declared that if anyone they know on the site were to even mention or praise the character of Wonder Woman then they should expect an immediate block from them. Rather drastic if anyone asks me. Unfortunately I couldn’t retrieve the specific posts I’m referring to, at the time of initially seeing the onslaught of angry posts I honestly didn’t think there was any need to screen-capture their harsh comments. Whoops. Hopefully the others I’ve found will convey the message decently enough.

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It doesn't matter to me in the least. I'm not going to stop watching all movies just because someone involved with the project might be a jerk. I'm not watching because I'm friends with them. I'm watching because the plot of the movie seemed interesting to me, or I enjoy one of the actors performing abilities, the director's style or past work, etc.

— Sarah C.

No, it doesn't matter to me unless it is against the law.

— Sherri H.

To me, this is silly to attack movies that literally have nothing to do with Gadot’s words online, and especially to denounce an iconic character that has existed in pop culture since 1941; over forty years before Gal Gadot was even born! Why? Because one actress is associated with the character should that automatically mean the character herself will forever be synonymous with the actress and face similar persecution? I don’t understand this mentality in the slightest.

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Give the Boot!

Then there are those who are calling for the recasting of the Wonder Woman role strictly because of Gadot’s post and her past in the Israeli military. Which to me is absurd for a number of reasons. For starters, Gadot’s post on the Israel-Palestine conflict was a seemingly innocent and well-intentioned one. Clearly her words presented were not any form of glorification of the violence going on, she was campaigning for peace while showing sorrow for a broken nation; which she has a right to discuss if she so chooses. Now if there was evidence to the contrary that’d be one thing, but her words were already judged by those who had pre-existing gripes against the actress.

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Secondly, this post nor her time in the military has anything to do with her career or her role as Wonder Woman and therefore doesn’t make any sense to involve her profession into the debate. Just because people find personal issues with the fact Gal Gadot once was involuntarily required to serve in the I.D.F. for a couple of years does not give them the right to make demands for her immediate removal and replacement. That’s just foolish to me as Gadot’s private life and past has absolutely nothing to do with her onscreen roles. From my point of view when Gadot is wearing that tiara, bashing baddies with her shield and whipping around a glowing lasso then I should be only seeing Wonder Woman. In that context of observing the actress inside a fictional realm, I should only be judging Gal exclusively on how she portrays her character and handles herself in the role, nothing more. Her roles, her performances are not being portrayed by a viral Tweet. This is a woman doing her job and I feel it should be left at that when it comes to her work.

To Be Or Not To Be Cancelled

It is exceptionally upsetting to see how Gadot doesn’t even seem permitted by the internet to fear for her own career or the prospect of being “canceled.” Recently Gal opened up about concerns of being dropped by studios after her major internet debacle went down, much like Gina Carano had been by Disney and her reps after posting controversial subjects online. I don’t blame Gadot one bit for being afraid, these are hectic and sensitive times we live in while the internet shows little to no hesitation when striking down Hollywood careers. Yet there are those who shame the celebrity for her feelings, guilt tripping her for not talking more about the crisis going on even though she already made her statement for peace on the matter. This is a woman’s life people are toying with, an entire career she probably worked very hard for and she’s worried it’ll be snuffed out in the blink of an eye over a single harmless post on the world wide web. She’s just an artist that wants to continue making her art.

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To me, this is another important side of separating art from the artist, defining that line needed to be drawn between a celebrity’s opinion and their work. To not judge the fate of one over the harmless words of another. It’s as though the world forgets the characters that the actors and actresses create are their art. Their art is in the performance and in the understanding of how their characters tick. These performances, these characters are not the actors; they’re simply brought to life by them. They are two completely separate entities. Now one can argue whether or not Gal Gadot is good at crafting her art. That’s an understandable and subjective view from rational thinking, if someone genuinely doesn’t like Gadot’s portrayal of her characters then that’s fine. However to bring in politics or past minor grievances from over a decade prior as “reasons” for an actor’s removal is sh*tty. Sorry, I tried my best at being professional, but that’s the best term that comes to mind. It’s just sh*tty.

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Voice Acting

When it comes to the realms of animation, it’s in a league all its own within the world of film and television. There are things that can be done with animation that live-action simply can’t. However, with that freedom of creativity comes a level of responsibility of what lines can be crossed and what should remain unscathed. With animation, naturally, comes voice acting. Because animation grants an unlimited potential for one’s cast, any production or program can have a single cast member voice legitimately dozens (sometimes hundreds) of different characters throughout the picture/series. In recent years though it appears that times have changed a little once again, as the public became increasingly aware on cartoon characters of certain races and ethnicities not being represented by their respective classes in the vocal performance.

Popular animated television shows such as The Simpsons and Family Guy began recasting long running staple characters that have been a part of the shows for years; i.e. Apu the Hindu-Indian Kwik-E-Mart clerk, Carl the African American powerplant coworker, Lou the deputy, Cleveland the neighborhood pal, and so on and so forth. 20th Century Fox announced that every race and ethnic group would be properly represented from here on out as there would no longer be any Caucasian voice actors taking on “roles of color.” The biggest and most controversial of the characters being removed was that of Apu, originally voiced by Hank Azaria from 1990 to 2020. There is a very long and lengthy story behind it so I’m going to provide only the cliff notes version of it all. In recent years there has been somewhat of a stir in the Indian-American community against the character of Apu being portrayed too much of a negative stereotype of the culture, resulting in several debates and an hour-long documentary entitled The Problem with Apu, starring and written by comedian Hari Kondabolu. As the controversy around Apu continued to rise, Azaria chose to step away from the character for good in an attempt to be respectful to those who may have suffered from racial offense. This was merely the stepping stone for Fox to eventually take a second look at all of their animated figures.

The Problem with Apu Trailer

From my understanding, the issue was more in the writing of Apu rather than the fact of a white man voicing him, but nevertheless that became are major proponent for the public opinion shifting into being offended and calling for a change in the animation industry. As far as I know, none of these actors who were dismissed from voicing the “problematic” characters were ever fired from their respective shows though as they still have multiple other characters they voice from the lineup. This is candidly a real tricky subject to talk about because I understand why some people found issues in Caucasians voicing people of other races and ethnicities when someone else of those respective communities can easily do the same job. There are those who even perceive the act as a vocal version of “black face,” which is definitely not okay in the slightest. Yet simultaneously I believe it is all about context and a certain level of respect when one decides to depict other cultures.

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I truly believe that people aren't nearly as sensitive as they're pretending to be. There's a trend right now in our socity of being offended by absolutely everything, down to the smallest detail. But deep down, I honestly don't think the majority of people in the world have these genuine offenses or beliefs, but rather they're afraid of harassment, or even something serious like doxing if they don't appear to fit in with the new norm.

— Sarah C.

Do I think there are also people in the world who live to be genuinely offended by every little thing they see? Absolutely. There will always be those who live to complain. But I also believe that most people do still have their common sense, logic, and reasoning skills.

— Sarah C. (Continued)

I think we need to make more diverse movies and TV shows, but not necessary to divide into separate categories. Dividing categories I think can be a bigger problem torwards racism.

— Sherri H.

Simpsons Ban White Actors From Playing Non-White Roles

How Blurred Are the Lines?

When it comes to voice acting, I believe there is a lot of leeway to the rules when actors are portraying different characters and cultures. The sheer talent that goes behind crafting characters through solely their voice alone is always mind blowing to me and I have nothing but respect for those artists making a career out of it. I love how one person can go from voicing a goofy child to a crazed homicidal clown in the blink of an eye. Grown women can portray bratty young boys, guys can become a big-mouthed eccentric wife to a guy running a burger joint, the possibilities are endless! It’s fantastic the liberties that can be taken with voice acting and how varied one can get, the artist can completely disappear when creating their art. At no point should that ever be an endorsement for actors to perform meanspirited impressions of any group of people or make fun of them unless there’s a solid reason behind it such as social commentary or satire involved.

Cast Bringing Simpsons to Life

The Talented Phil LaMarr

In the case of Apu and The Simpsons in general, honestly I can only speak on their older episodes prior to 2010 since I’ve been sporadic when keeping up with the now 32 year old cartoon; from my recollection though, Apu never stood out as any more or less offensive as the rest of the characters since it’s a satire meant to poke fun of all stereotypes. That’s kind of the whole point of the show. Or at least it was, I’m not entirely sure anymore. I have watched recent episodes, but they never really stick with me too long after watching. However, if we are regarding the golden age of The Simpsons in the 1990s, I think that all of their depictions are smart and funny without being meanspirited or hateful by any means. The writing and performances were made with a purpose at the time to reflect on our own reality in humorously clever ways.

Now have there been repercussions of the Apu character in our own society being terribly directed towards Indian-Americans? No doubt, because when we imagine or actually do witness a person cruelly mocking an Indian/Hindu/Buddhist culture, it is instantly an impression of Hank Azaria’s Apu. That being said, I’m not so sure if the show is to blame, but rather our own awful deeds we should be held responsible for. We took something funny and twisted it into something hurtful. And that is not alright. The way I see it, the direction of where the blame lies isn’t exactly where it should be; the art isn’t always at fault for an audience’s interpretation or reaction. Then again, did The Simpsons technically create the problem or lay the foundation of how people thought it was acceptable to be insensitive on the issues at hand? Maybe.

Best of Apu

A Lost Voice

In terms voice work, I can easily except the separation of vocal art from the artist as long as the actor is doing a good job at giving us either an interesting, funny, colorful, or well-rounded character while respecting their origins; if the actors and writers meet those specific requirements then I personally don’t see the problem. I think this mentality is lost on the studios and even some of the individuals who campaigned for a change in the medium; they assume that the issues reside in the fact that a white person vocally depicting another race is automatically considered racist or insensitive when in actuality I think it’s more complicated than that. I believe it’s the fact of whether it’s being done respectfully, or at least within the confines of the production’s context.

Indians React to Apu Controversy

When it comes to voice acting any character, we shouldn’t lock roles off to the actor’s designated race, ethnicity, religion, etc. If a character is white, the casting director shouldn’t exclusively be looking for anyone who is also white. Same for black characters, Asian, Hispanic, you name it. From my point of view, it should be whoever gives this character their true voice. The voice that obviously resonates best with script, same goes for any character in general from live-action as well. The casting should be decided on who genuinely brings the character life and dimension with their performance alone, not in their skin tone. If a white character is voiced by a white actor or a black actor, that should not matter when I’m listening to the performance while watching the animation. There shouldn’t be any moment where I’m watching a cartoon thinking to myself, “Wow this vocal performance is wonderful, too bad it’s a Japanese character being voiced by an African-American actor. I guess I’m not allowed to like it now.” That does not compute with me. I, nor anyone, should be thinking about that when watching an animated feature as long as the actors and writers are doing their job well. A keyword when casting a voice should be “inclusivity,” consider all options regardless of anyone’s skin color and search for the talent that’s right for the character.

Phil LaMarr on Racism in Voice Acting

I know vocal artist Phil LaMarr doesn’t particularly care for being dragged into this debate too frequently, but he brings up great points for both sides of the argument. Especially how the voice actors are wrongly targeted as they’re simply artists hired to do a job when the true focus should be set on the producers who allow somewhat racist practices to be continued when casting their characters. Please take a look at the interview provided above to get an idea of what I mean.

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I believe there should be no racism. If it's written for a black person, they should be the ones who should have the credit. Same as all races.

— Sherri H.

I don't think it's inheriently racist, but it does just seem like an odd choice for a casting director to make. Certain ethnicities have specific accents. With how big the talent pool is for available voice actors, I don't see why it would be hard to find an actor for a specific type of character; whether the need be for a character who's white, black, Asian, Hispanic, or even a disabled character.

— Sarah C.

It just seems like it would be easier to cast a Japanese actor to play a Japanese character than it would be to find a different actor who could do a Japanese accent.

— Sarah C. (Continued)

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The Gender Conflict

One of the messiest divorces to ever grace the Hollywood limelight is undoubtedly between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard; dealing with slander, “he said, she said” accusations of physical/verbal abuse and addiction, restraining orders, a severed fingertip, and even possibly someone sh*tting on the bed… it is utter chaos listening to their testimonies. In all honesty, it’s damn near impossible to separate fact from fiction when figuring out who is the abuser and who is the victim in all this as there is very little significant concrete evidence to either prove or disprove anyone’s claims between the now bitterly separated couple. However, my goal is not to determine who is innocent or guilty. What I’m wondering is if there is a slight gender bias when it comes to the Hollywood system, seeing how both individuals have major damning accusations made against them yet only one seems to be suffering the consequences while the other is allowed to continue their career unphased.

The Johnny Depp - Amber Heard Entire Timeline Case

Amber Filming An Angered Depp

To sum up the situation as quickly as possible; Amber Heard accuses Johnny Depp of being an alcoholic who has physically harmed her on numerous occasions, while Depp states that her claims are false as she is in fact the one who abused him over the course of their relationship. In the eyes of the courts, a lot is still to be determined. In the online public eye though it is practically an all-out war among those who defend Amber as being a woman standing up against her oppressor and becoming a brave member of the #MeToo movement, while the opposing factions have campaigned #JusticeForJohnnyDepp and are arguing how the actor has been unfairly judged.

When the whole debacle came to a head in the tabloids and social media, Warner Bros. asked Johnny Depp to resign from his role in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them franchise… essentially he was fired. When Depp was forced to leave his film projects, and since has not been hired for anything in the immediate future, many assumed the same treatment would be bestowed upon Amber Heard. On the contrary, the famed actress has actually been able to maintain her Hollywood career without a hitch as she carries on with new projects; even those under WB’s roster, such as the recently announced Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. Which seems rather strange given how both parties have been equally accused of the exact same allegations of spousal abuse with roughly the same amount of corroboration in the ongoing court cases.

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Fans Want Heard Fired

Because Depp was fired and Heard was not, many online defenders of Depp are now outraged of this mistreatment by Hollywood as it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to punish one yet not the other when neither have been proven innocent. Several people are even willing to boycott the upcoming Aquaman sequel until confirmation of Amber Heard’s departure from the production and is recast. Personally, I feel as though there is a lot to be unraveled all at once. From a certain point of view, I do get why the Johnny Depp defenders are angered about there obviously not being a fair handling of the situation as it appears that the Hollywood industry has already deemed who is guilty without any official ruling.

Although, in all honesty, my biggest issue isn’t necessarily that Amber Heard hasn’t been fired, but rather that Johnny Depp was fired at all and that either career should currently suffer. To me, I don’t see why we’re attacking anyone’s livelihood, at least until the courts have finally come to a proper decision. Neither performer should face any consequences of losing their Hollywood career or film roles because, frankly, this case has nothing to do with their movies or any behavior shown in the workplace. Period. That is how I see it anyways. Understandably, most would disagree.

Things Getting Desperate in the Depp vs. Heard Case

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The child molesters make me sick and even though I have liked some of their music in the past, I do boycott their music!

— Sherri H.

If it turns out one way or the other on who is guilty then so be it, maybe both are guilty to some degree. I haven’t a clue and I don’t particularly care to judge either side, nor do I feel a need to bring their art into the argument. Why do their filmographies have to be brought up at all? Why can’t we let these actors do their job, keeping their personal lives entirely separate from their profession and the art they create? Why can’t we let them have their days in court before we shun them completely? Why does anyone need to be shunned at all? This disaster of a divorce is none of our business, yet we make it our business, even though the most interaction the public has with these stars are basically what they see on the big screen and at social conventions. Nothing more. We don’t know these people, but we love their work and feel an indescribable connection towards them because they create these performances that resonate with us. Therefore we become self-entitled to what goes on with them personally and cannot separate the real from the fantasy anymore. Maybe I’m wrong and it’s something else totally, but I feel that the people have become careless with their power over the careers of the Hollywood scene.

Sadly, I feel that a major component of what makes this case of Depp vs. Heard so maddening is because a lot of this is an unfortunate side effect of the #MeToo movement. While for the most part the #MeToo movement has been a terrific cause for victims in need, it also has resulted in a stereotypical mindset that many have adopted; that being that the male suspect is instantly guilty upon the moment of being publicly accused by the presumed victim. I wish there was a better way to word what I’m trying to say without sounding insensitive, but it does feel as though that once anyone (mainly male) is even rumored to have abused another (mainly female) then that automatically becomes their death sentence, long before they get a chance to stand in front of a jury.

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I think that specific manner of thinking is why producers at Warner Bros. were so quick to remove Depp from future projects while allowing Heard to proceed with hers, because they either believe that there is no way a man can be proven innocent in a case akin to this or they know that it doesn’t matter. Once the general public has made their minds up on something or someone, it tends to stay that way. News headlines read “Johnny Depp is a wife-beater” and because the producers fear the unforgiving nature of the internet, they probably made the call then and there to cut ties with Depp. This fear, this mentality is a product of the #MeToo movement as well as Cancel Culture. Wonderful things have been accomplished by both causes, but I suppose no good deed goes unpunished. Granted, maybe it is true that Depp is guilty of his alleged crimes, should that mean Cancel Culture and the feared instilled by them should act as judge, jury, and executioner before a shred of evidence has been seen? I wish it didn’t, but that’s the way it is now.

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It's okay to make things better. We can't always be politically correct. What do comedians do now. Lol. I am all for the #MeToo movement! Helps others not feel alone or ashamed of something that happened to them.

— Sherri H.

Overall

In summation, what have we learned about the separation of art from the artist in the Hollywood industry? I- I don’t know… this is a heavily complex subject requiring so many details to be thoroughly researched and analyzed again and again. Are times and sensibilities simply evolving where we need to be more cognizant of the changes? Have we gleefully ignored heinous elements over the years for entertainment? Has society grown too sensitive towards subjects or too insensitive on others? Is political correctness becoming the downfall of comedy and art or is it opening up newer avenues to be explored? There’s no concrete answer I can definitively provide as there are too many variables from one discussion to the next. This whole article is basically just one guy rambling his thoughts on the internet. That being said, I think all minds on the matter can follow down a very slippery slope; for better or worse.

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The mentality of ‘keeping separation’ may start off fine, but could lead to undeservedly supporting shady figures or accepting immoral practices for the sake of entertainment. Then there’s the other mindset of not including any acceptable manner of separating art from the artist, arguing for all support to cease immediately when an artist is deemed guilty by the public, this involves wrongly excommunicating possibly great and influential art while punishing innocent associates of these productions as well. Both have their positive intentions, yet both can also be fairly dangerous when left unchecked.

Ultimately, there needs to be some middle ground found in this debate. I have no clue where or how, but choosing strictly one side or the other seems to have their equal consequences. Currently it’s basically choosing between the lesser of two evils. Although that should also be kept in mind that this is a person’s choice. Everyone has the right to choose what art they do or do not support, for whatever reasons there may be from their point of view. We shouldn’t ever take anyone’s freewill or choice away from them whether they can or cannot enjoy the art that is unfortunately attached to unfavorable names.

Duckman on the Importance of Comedy

None of this is as black and white or clear cut as we’d hope to believe; good people can create terrible art, evil people can make inspiring works, no single person is truly all good or all bad as there tends to be a mix of both in everyone. We have to take the good when we can, weed out the bad as best as possible, accept there will inevitably be mistakes and consequences along the way from either choice we make on the matter. However we must make these choices for ourselves, not for others. My choice is to believe in the best of people, be aware of their worst, and cherish the art from all. What do you choose?

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I would just like to say we need to stop idolizing these scums of Earth. We need to stop them in their tracks, we can't change the past, but we can change our future for everyone. If we know now then don't let it be a part of our future to let people continue making a buck, putting them on a pedestal, and putting them in halls of Fame and other honors. Let's bring our kids and grandkids to a better future. Lock up the rapists, the molesters, the abusers, and throw away the key.

— Sherri H.

Simply put; our differences are what make us unique and special. If that gets taken away and we're all made to think and feel the same, life would become beyond mundane. It would lose purpose and meaning, as we would have nowhere to go. No more progression. Nothing more to learn from one another. Having a difference of thoughts, opinions, and life experiences is what keeps us all talking and makes the entire human experience worth it.

— Sarah C.

What Side Are You On in the Debate of Separating Art From the Artist?

That’s All Folks…

Separating Art From The Artist… possible my longest article to date. Or at least one of them. Apologies for the absurd length and if my writing has upset anyone. These are extremely tricky topics to discuss, but I did my absolute best to be as respectful as I could when touching on everything written. Even though there was a ton I wrote on in this particular article, I feel as though there’s plenty more to be said and analyzed along with other perspectives. I didn’t even mention other big controversies involving Woody Allen or Roman Polanski. What do you think though? Did you like or dislike my article? Agree or disagree? Wonder when I’ll ever shut the hell up? Comment down below and let me know! Also, if you so happened to have enjoy my review then please do me a favor and share this article around the social media world. Thank you all so much for reading and have yourselves a terrific day!

© 2021 John Plocar

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