By Olivia Chiu
We often feel called upon to defend a piece of art when its creator “messes up.” Woody Allen’s multiple scandals, including his alleged sexual abuse of adopted daughter Dylan Farrow and marriage to previously adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn, drew a range of rebuttals and comments from fans eager to disprove or dissolve the claims.
As observers, we can never fully separate the art from the artist; it’s a part of being human. The knowledge that the artist has committed an atrocious act or stands for something with which we do not agree inevitably alters our perception of their work. The very definition of art–the expression of an individual’s thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and values–indicates an inherent tie between art and artist. By separating them, we aren’t looking at art in the way it was meant to be viewed and we don’t do justice to it. Art is an expression; what would it be without the expressor?
It is imperative to recognize that supporting a piece art means supporting its artist. At the very least, sponsoring an artist’s work means financially backing the artist. There can be no separation between financially endorsing a work of art and financially endorsing the one who created it.
None of this means mean that Woody Allen’s productions are worthless or that we should boycott his films now that his scandals have come to light. Annie Hall, one of Allen’s award-winning movies, has certainly not lost its value. However, when we brush aside or even justify his misconducts by saying things like “just because he’s a bad person doesn’t mean his movies are,” we’re dismissing the fact that his films are an expression of who he is—the good and the bad alike.
Appreciating artistic masterpieces is fine and a perfectly normal part of being human—but it’s impossible to claim that you’re not supporting the artist when you support his or her art.