Substituting a goat
And in other miracle-related news, some people in Hollywood decided to stand on principle.
The issue was Mel Gibson, charismatic movie star, Oscar-winning filmmaker and drunken, bigoted, death-threat-issuing lout. Gibson was supposed to make a cameo in "The Hangover 2," the sequel to the 2009 hit "The Hangover," but was booted from the production, reportedly after cast members -- supposedly led by costar Zach Galifianakis -- told the film's director, Todd Phillips, that they were uncomfortable working with Gibson. The cast apparently was not uncomfortable appearing in the last "Hangover" opposite convicted rapist and onetime mugger Mike Tyson, who subsequently told ESPN radio that he did the cameo "for drug money."
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If artists should be publicly censured and denied employment on the basis of offenses they commit in private life, how come Gibson is a pariah right now for threatening and hitting his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva, while Alec Baldwin, who verbally abused his 11-year-old daughter on the phone, lashed out at a photographer, and has a long record of frightening behavior toward his ex-wife Kim Basinger, is currently one of the most beloved figures on network TV?
[. . .]
Instead of either/or, how about both/and? Baldwin is a hot-tempered, maudlin, navel-gazing bozo, and one of the great character actors and improvisational comics alive. Mel Gibson is an anti-Semite, a sexist, a homophobe, and very possibly a deranged religious fanatic; he's also one of the few bona fide movie stars of the last three decades and the most brilliant action filmmaker since Sam Peckinpah. Polanski is a great director and a sex offender. Kazan was a great director and a rat. Lohan and Moss are substance abusers and arresting beauties whose most interesting work probably lies ahead of them. Sheen is a master of droll self-parody and an unexpectedly charming sitcom star, and a wife-abusing scum that should be behind bars right now. (Matt Zoller Seitz, "‘The Hangover 2's’ Mel Gibson hypocrisy,” Salon, 22 October 2010)
What is it if you've never raped, if you're Tom Cruise
I'm with Matt, it smells. One wonders if the worst thing you can do is be someone we used to adore, and then not find some means to announce yourself as wholly willing to undergo whatever rehabilitation we ask of you ("I ... will suck ... your dick."). Even if you never really did anything. I'm pretty sure the only thing Tom Cruise did was jump up and down on a couch, showing he will never not be the possessed Tom Cruise we grew up with and loved. He needed to have been able to have quickly shown he thought himself an ass-clown for his behavior, to have some chance of figuring for continued relevance. The Tropic Thunder resurrection was a little late, a little too completely last straw: "kinda appreciate the gesture, but there's something of you, Tom, that though we take as staleness or complete derangement still smacks -- annoyingly -- of integrity, if you can believe it. As if something might be off -- WITH US -- for not wanting to stay related to you: We have no interest in even innocently being made to feel as if it us, in our jumping on cue, on and off trends, who is dancing fool.
Except of course for "grandma" Betty White. She could have humped a whole kindergarten and some would still kill to keep her cool. ("I literally screwed them for life -- two dozen of them, dripping in vagina goo -- and you still want me to repeat on SNL?" "That would be 'Yes.'") What does that say about our era?
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If your artist stewed of small children, he never in fact created Art.
I still think, though, that finding out someone was "likely a killer" or was for sure a rapist should mean a pretty profound re-examination of what it is about us that drew us to like "his" films in the first place. (We condemn loudly, perhaps, so we feel less implicated.) I don't think we should be much drawn to artistic work done by people who raped or killed. Knowing that we were, and still perhaps are, amounts to a wonderful prompt to stop and see what is stalling us -- for something is indeed, for sure, off with us. The killer, the rapist, is NO DOUBT in my mind in the work itself (an artist of two temperaments, two minds -- one that creates, the other that rages -- is even in the sympathetic, saner part, "incomplete," still crazy). (Artists may be delegates; do what we wish/prompt but do not dare. But no one sane responds this way.) If you find out a culture was cannibalistic or sacrificed legions of virgins to some hairy god, take another look at the colorful art you used to praise: hopefully it required looking at it a bit distracted/askew or objective-intent, to deem it Beautiful. But the problem isn't just in the art or the artist, it is you too. Reassess, slowly; be kind to your former self; and hopefully grow. That creation fundamentally comes out of knowing love and tolerance is only made hard to see for it being historically rare. Amidst cultures that sacrifice children, substituting an innocent goat that-never-did-no-harm-to-nobody is a miraculous, beautiful thing.