Reward Ethical Artists
A new report reveals that a whopping 94 percent of women in the entertainment industry have experienced harassment or assault. And it wasn’t just Harvey. Entertainment icons are falling from grace, but what about the work they have created? Is it wrong to be enthralled by Kevin Spacey’s ruthless character in “House of Cards” after learning about his alleged sexual misconduct? Can we still find Aziz Ansari’s depictions of navigating modern dating insightful after reading about his behavior? After at least eight sexual misconduct accusations, can we still quote Jeremy Piven’s one-liners as super-agent Ari Gold from “Entourage”? If history is any indication, we probably can. But we shouldn’t. If consumers want art to be ethically created, they must put their financial support behind artists that align with those values. Consumers have a questionable record. Take musician Chuck Berry, one of the greatest guitarists in history. Berry was once convicted of transporting a 14-year old girl across state lines for sex. This January, he was honored posthumously by Jon Batiste and Gary Clark Jr. at the Grammy Awards. Michael Jackson, the “King of Pop” faced a slew of sexual misconduct allegations, including charges of child molestation. Since his death in 2009, Jackson has received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and released two albums; he earned $825 million in 2016. Richard Pryor is no exception. Last year, Rolling Stone ranked Pryor the No. 1 stand-up comedian of all time. Woody Allen was accused of molesting his 7-year old adopted daughter Dylan Farrow in 1992. While the presiding judge ruled that it could not be proved that Mr. Allen had sexually assaulted Dylan, he noted, “Mr. Allen’s behavior towards Dylan was grossly inappropriate.” Since then, Mr. Allen has written, directed and acted in nearly 40 films. He received a lifetime achievement award from the Golden Globes in 2014. We, as consumers, we may have stated as a principle that an artist and their art are two different things. But we should no longer be willing to make that distinction. To achieve this goal, we must remember that we are the marketplace. We need to put our dollars behind art created ethically. Take “All The Money in the World,” Ridley Scott’s latest thriller. Following the fall of Kevin Spacey, Mr. Scott scrapped Mr. Spacey’s scenes and reshot them with another actor. The move cost Mr. Scott over $10 million. While far from a flop, the film only recently recouped its $50 million budget. That’s a shame. This could have been a tremendous moment for champions of Times Up and related movements to put their support behind the film with their wallets. If consumers believe that entertainment should be created ethically, we should be rewarding those who are doing so, ensuring that there isn’t a place in that market for the Weinsteins of the world. In the meantime, I’ll be re-watching “The Office” for the seventh time and hoping Steve Carrell is as nice as he seems.