Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

"I'm not like the other boys"

In amongst all the chaos here around the crises of non government we find ourselves in over leaving the EU it can come as something of a shock that the World is still turning, stuff happens, and life goes on, even while our government fails to govern. One of those things that happens has happened, a recent documentary about Michael Jackson has aired further allegations about his behaviour with underage boys. I have not seen it, and I don't know the truth about all this. I do know that Jackson is dead and that he can't now defend himself, and that in law his estate can't either.

Still from The Shipping News
There have been allegations made against many other high profile figures including Kevin Spacey , Sylvester Stallone and many others that have yet to be proven. Indeed many may never come to court just like Cliff Richard who will now not have the opportunity to totally clear his name. The Crown Prosecution Service will say something like they "have insufficient evidence to mount a prosecution" suggesting that if only they could find the evidence they know he did it, they never say that after extensive investigations they know he's not guilty. Then of course there will always be those who say there is no smoke without fire ~ of course there is! I have been subject to false accusations (of a different nature) and it is very hard to prove an absence of something happening, and if those accusations are public, without an equal opportunity to defend then much damage can be done.

This is largely aside from what I wanted to talk about though. The point is these are all artists of one type or another, I may not care much for some of their work, but I also care a lot for some of it. I am a bit of Cliff Richard fan, and Kevin Spacey stars in a couple of my favorite films (The Shipping News, and American Beauty) I suppose my question is does the behaviour of the artist dictate the value of the art they create? I have heard of Students Unions banning Michael Jackson's music because of these allegations, I know there are DJs who will not play Gary Glitter records, Chris Brown and R Kelly are now also at best only reluctantly played; but if the music is good why not play it?

I have friends who worked on The Shipping News, should they be denied their work being screened (and the fees attached) because of as yet unproven allegations against the star? Is it any the less a good film because of Spacey's alleged behaviour?

Caravaggio's "Beheading of St John the Baptist"

During the summer I was one of the thousands who flocked to St John's Co-Cathedral in Valletta to see the Caravaggio's there. Caravaggio is largely acknowledged as a Master, even a genius, yet by all accounts he was a serial philanderer and a multiple murderer! Are we adopting double standards? Dickens, Shakespeare and Michelangelo and others are now emerging as moral ambiguous at best, yet we continue to celebrate their work. Is it just their contemporary nature that makes us reject them?  I think the art can be separated from the artist, I will continue to listen to and enjoy some of Wagner's music, I will continue to look at Caravaggio's in awe and wonder, and I will continue to enjoy Keven Spacey's films.

This same issue has recently bee debated on BBC Radio 4's The Moral Maze

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