Revisionist History

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Revisionist History

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Name someone in the recent past that has had their career ended in scandal. Can you think of someone?

    If you said no, you’re probably not thinking hard enough, or you don’t want to face the reality of their actions. If I were to make a list of disgraced celebrities, it would probably take up the rest of this page.

    Most recently, however, Michael Jackson has been posthumously scorned as a result of HBO’s new documentary “Leaving Neverland.” The documentary follows two men (Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck) as they cover their experiences with Jackson including him sleeping in the bed with them, sexually abusing them, and at one point, even holding a wedding ceremony with one of them.

    The harrowing events portrayed in the four-hour-long film have caused many responses. The creators of “The Simpsons” have removed an episode from their catalog that includes Jackson’s voice, Drake has dropped a performance of one of his songs, and several radio stations have completely removed their music from syndication.

    Of course, Jackson is not the only celebrity to have his career mostly blackballed from the world. Louis C.K. has presumably lost his career after his sexual misbehavior against women, Bill Cosby is in prison for aggravated indecent assault, Kevin Spacey has no chance of a return to Hollywood after he was charged with indecent assault and battery of an 18-year-old, Johnny Depp hasn’t had a lead role in quite some time after his alleged abuse of ex-wife Amber Heard, and the list goes on and on.

    I am not here to relieve these men of their guilt, as in many cases, I believe that their ascribed guilt was rightly earned. The question I come with, however, is should we destroy their art and refuse to enjoy it as a result of their actions?

    Just recently, I showed one of my friends “American Beauty.” If you’re not vetted, the 1999 film won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (for Spacey), Best Original Screenplay, and Best Cinematography.

    Being a dedicated film fan since a young age, I’ve seen the film several times over the years, and I regard it as a classic. I, like many others, was heartbroken at the actions by Spacey. I feel as though the allegations were completely true, but it still doesn’t soften the blow of one of the most talented actors being an actually evil person.

    I didn’t tell my friend of all of the controversy surrounding the actor, and they liked the film. Was it wrong of me to further Spacey’s popularity to an unbeknownst civilian?

    In addition to being a film fan, I’m also a bit of a comedy nerd. Last month, on a binge of Netflix stand-ups, including Anthony Jeselnik, John Mulaney, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, and Ellen Degeneres, I came across Louis CK’s special simply titled “2017.”

    I’ve been a fan of CK’s since watching the premiere episode of his FX show “Louie.” I’ve seen every season of it, as well as all of his stand up specials and his film turns in “Trumbo,” and “American Hustle.” It’s fair to say, I was a pretty big fan of the guy.

    When his allegations came out, I couldn’t say I was surprised, as the man has lude bits in most of his acts. Nevertheless, it was maybe his downfall that hit me the hardest. This was a man that I’ve hailed in the past as being the best stand up since Eddie Murphy’s reign as king in the late ’80s, and Richard Pryor before him. Well, I watched “2017,” and it’s still just as funny as when it debuted.

    This got me thinking. How does everyone else feel about the revisionist history of celebrities? Can I still listen to “Smooth Criminal?” Can I still watch “Finding Neverland?”

    I googled the best stand up comics of all time and found an article from Rolling Stone magazine from 2017 which called CK the fourth greatest comic of all time and had Cosby at spot number eight. Rolling Stone, one of the most popular magazines in the world, decided to leave their (now controversial) list up on their website, so is it okay for me to separate the artist from the art and enjoy things from the past that have now been marred by their creator’s bad decisions?

    This is how I feel. If something brings me joy, I think I am able to see the difference between an artist in their art. That being said, however, I can understand how someone wouldn’t want to be reminded of heinous acts, but I digress.

    I still believe “Thriller” to be among the greatest albums of all time, “The Usual Suspects” is still awesome, “Daddy’s Girlfriend Pt’s 1 and 2,” are still some of my favorite tv episodes ever, and I still love “Edward Scissorhands.” That doesn’t mean, however, that I have to continuously support their creators.