Inspired by a recent Culture Brats post . . . I’ve been wondering if Morrissey’s recent comments about the Chinese are as deluded as they sound or are just an example of someone who has no true filter. They shouldn’t be equated or compared to his PETA-like statements against meat-eating. I played The Smiths and Meat is Murder in the eighties as much as anyone, but I never became an uber-fan. The guy makes clever music, but that doesn’t make him an intellectual. Do I shrug off Morrissey’s dumb comments because I have in recent years, shrugged off Morrissey? It brings up the question, asked across the internet-how important is it to respect or be in line with the politics of an artist ones admires?
I know that I stopped watching Woody “the heart wants what it wants” Allen movies in the nineties after the whole Soon-Yi/Mia scandal. But the quality of his films had already receded long before he lost my respect. I have seen and liked Matchpoint since, but that’s more because of Jonathan Rhys Myers than Allen.
Why should I care what an artist or celebrity does or believes? But somehow I think we all do. I didn’t get deeply invested in the recent Polanski controversy. I wasn’t interested in his morality or lack thereof-I love Frantic with its filming of the Parisian Statue of Liberty crowding into each shot as if to say, “I wish I was filming in New York.” I also like his wack-a-doodle, but hard not to watch, Arturo Perez-Reverte/Johnny Depp mash-up, The Ninth Gate. And I have always loved Rosemary’s Baby. But would I have signed his petition? Do I cut him more slack than Woody because I like his movies more? Hmmm . . .
As an artist I know that art and the artist are separate, but still somehow inextricable. A built-in conundrum that I feel when looking at an artist’s work vs. the artist. A drawing I do can include imagery that some might find objectionable. But does that make me objectionable? Do I really dislike Eric Clapton’s music because he lusted after George Harrison’s wife and other stupid behavior, or is that just a convenient personal excuse instead of my saying outright that I just don’t like his lazy-sounding voice and have never been the guitar-hero type? I haven’t stopped watching Hugh Grant movies because of his infamous indiscretion.
I’m not sure whether this morally ambiguous opining will help me decide where I stand on the next celebrity scandal that comes along, or if I will even pay attention to it. But I do know that a lot of these questions would be moot if celebrities could simply do one thing. Shut up. Hear that, Morrissey?