So Michael Jackson died, and some people are getting pissed about the tributes that have come his way since his passing. “But he was a pedophile!” they cry, angry at the people who talk about the genius of Thriller or Human Nature or She’s Out of My Life. To their self-righteous “anger” I say: If we had to base what art we enjoy on the personal (alleged) proclivities of the artist, we’d be severely limited in our options. I love reading Bukowski’s ramblings about pussy, alcohol and stinky apartments, but that doesn’t mean I’d like to hang out with him or let my daughter date him. (Side note: I probably WOULD like to hang out with Bukowski, so maybe that wasn’t the best example, but I’ll bet a lot of the sensitive hipster guys in tight tee shirts and skinny jeans who read his books in coffee shops would be horrified to see that shit in the flesh) (especially because the women he writes about weren’t cute little Betty Page wannabes – they were as tired and ragged out as he was) (also, I don’t have a daughter)
You don’t have to want to have dinner with someone to appreciate their painting/song/play/movie/sculpture/novel. Because, seriously, have you met any artists? They can be very fucked up. Maybe not to the extreme of being accused pedophiles, but they’ve certainly been accused, and rightly so, of being megalomaniacs, alcoholics, abusers, masochists. Assholes.
Should you separate the art from the artist? Yes. Because “art” is the personal, individual, unique interaction that happens between the audience and the creation. Nothing else matters. If you don’t agree, then I hope you’re doing a shitload of homework before you go to a museum, watch a movie, listen to the radio, buy a book, go to the theatre or pop in that porn DVD. Otherwise, shut the fuck up about Michael Jackson unless he personally stuck his hand in your pants.