ARE YOUR VALUES WORTH A SONG AND A MOVIE? – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #18


And the question is one that has bothered me in the past and will probably continue to nag at me.


“When you learn about highly regarded artists being accused of inappropriate sexual behavior, especially with minors, can you separate the artists from their art, or would you refuse to listen to, watch, or read the artists’ works?”


NOTE: I expand this to include all varieties of hatred and bigotry.

The easy answer and the one that requires the least amount of effort is that we separate the artist and his/her art. This is simply because it requires \no sacrifice from you. None at all — not even giving up listening to some music or a few movies.

There are more issues involved than whether or not you like the way the guy sings, acts, paints, or writes. There are values you claim as your own at stake.

I can’t — won’t — watch movies with Mel Gibson. Or with massacres of Native Americans. Or including blackface or other racially derogatory material. Garry used to ignore it (which I never understood), but he can’t anymore. At the very least, he fast forwards through those sections … or doesn’t watch the movie.

Many –especially modern — artists have been nasty people. Rapists and pedophiles. Racists. Bigots of the first water.

An awful lot more artists are fine or at least normal people. Everyone in the music business or Hollywood is not a sexual predator, racist, anti-Semite, or pedophile. If you extract the bad ones, there are plenty of movies and music remaining to which you can listen and view without compromising your supposed principles.

At what point do the values you claim to have actually matter enough to make a minor dent in your viewing or listening life? Seriously. You claim to be an honorable person, but rather than giving up listening to one child rapist’s music, you’ll “forgive him” because he’s such a great artist? Is he really that great? Or are your values that cheap?

At some point, if you have a set of values in which you believe, are you prepared to give up anything to live up to those values? You listen to their music and you watch their movies … and they make money from this. You are supporting them while deploring them.

Photo: Marilyn Armstrong

Your values don’t mean much if you are unwilling to make any sacrifice — and this is a pretty small sacrifice — for them.

I have come to a point in life where the things I value are more important to me that a song or movie. #metoo isn’t just a saying . You either support it or you don’t. You are either willing to make some kind of actual change in your life — and this is a pretty small one — to support it or you don’t support it.

I don’t think giving up watching a few movies or listening to some songs is such a huge sacrifice. In fact, it’s not much and costs nothing. If I’m not willing to do that, then my values don’t mean anything.

43 thoughts on “ARE YOUR VALUES WORTH A SONG AND A MOVIE? – Marilyn Armstrong

  1. Pingback: BEWARE OF MAN! – Marilyn Armstrong – Serendipity – Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

  2. I’ve had arguments with my son about this topic. He is a huge movie buff. He thinks Woody Allen is brilliant and although he doesn’t like his behavior, he says you have to separate the person from their art. He also says certain movies that are tremendously gory or that depict horrifying acts are “genius” works of art. I won’t watch them, I tell him. I don’t care if that means missing the best movie ever made. I’ve seen enough in my life to not subject myself to watching rape or sadistic murder or racist acts. It isn’t worth it to me. My husband used to watch porn movies which I objected to. He called it a “fantasy.” I argued that those movies show the subjugation of women and that many of the actresses in them are also being exploited. I think I was so adamant that he eventually got tired of porn and I don’t think he watches that stuff anymore. If he does, maybe it’s better that I don’t know. Being Jewish, though, he doesn’t like to watch movies or read about the Holocaust, although I do. I like to read about the heroism of people that opposed the Nazis or were defiant in whatever small way they could be.

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    • Almoralegria, excellent share. I loved Woody Allen’s nerdy loser because it jibed with my personality as a shy, outsider in my teens and early 20’s. Marilyn and I joke about Allen’s character in “Take The Money And Run”. The scene where he’s trying to rob a bank and hands a teller a note that reads “I have a gub” always leaves us laughing. But the real life Woody casts a dark pallor over his underdog nebbish that struck chords in so many young men. Separating the artist from his work or professional persona doesn’t detract from crimes committed. They don’t get a mulligan because they’re funny.
      Porn: I read the “stroke” mags for the PICTURES as well as some of the articles. I used to hide them in a closet – hoping my parents would not discover my dark secret. I was relieved when I discovered other guys did the same thing.
      Porn Movies: Guilty, again. I enjoyed looking at well endowed women doing the dirty with horny guys. Part of me realized the women were being subjugated. But my hormones won that moral battle. I still appreciate attractive women in seductive clothing but it’s no longer a big deal. I’n an old fart – not a dirty old man. Trust me.

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    • Amoralgeria (I hope I’m spelling it right) — I’m with you. For me, there’s no real issue. I don’t see a big choice to be made. I also don’t feel that giving up a few movies is such a big issue that it presents a serious emotional/moral trauma. It’s a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Haven’t watched a Woody Allen movie in years, or Roman Polanski, or a Weinstein production. Read an Orson Scott Card book, or anything by Marion Zimmer Bradley, etc There are plenty of quality movies and books available to read/watch, especially today in the world of self-publishing and Youtube.

    Many years ago I had a huge argument with an ex, who wasn’t an ex at the time, about artists being judged by their actions as well as their art. She was a sculptor and argued that artists shouldn’t be constrained by the mores of society, and I, a writer, argued that mores were one thing but being abusive toward others was another.

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    • I didn’t know about Bradley, but I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. My father was a child molester and my brother and I were both molested. It was never reported and there are reasons why that makes and still makes sense. It’s why I wrote a book about it. The punishment for child molestation has a tendency to hurt the victims far more than the victimizers, despite what they say in movies and TV.

      Getting torn out of your home and thrown into the “system” does not improve your position because so many foster parents are WORSE than what you suffered at home. That Bradley herself was a molester is a different issue. My mother, after she knew what was happening, got my brother out of the house, protected me and my sister as best she knew how although I think if it had been a decade later, she might have been ready to make other choices. but I don’t know. Everyone is dead and gone, so it’s too late to march backward.

      Family incest is insanely complicated, scarring, and kids don’t really recover. My brother never did. I have — as far as anyone ever does, anyway. My sister is lost to drugs and weirdness and my mother died feeling she had failed without understanding how or why.

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  4. I used to have a lot of Bill Cosby albums and I thought he was enormously funny and talented. It’s been years since I’ve listen to any of his comedy routines, but I would not hesitate to listen to them again because they are funny. That said, I wouldn’t buy anything from him or even replace an old album with a new one or download any of his comedic stories because I do t feel it appropriate for me to contribute revenue toward someone who did what he did.

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    • Of all the current “bad guys,” he’s the one who I find the most baffling. And to a larger degree, troubling. As for Spacey, I always suspected he was deeply twisted. I just couldn’t PROVE it. Kelley was never in my music anyway. Garry is just disgusted that a black man could be so revolting and so unashamed of it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango, Bill Cosby along with Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte were towering figures if you were young, Black and aspiring for success in the 50’s and 60’s. It’s damn hard to swallow the truth but you can’t forget the suffering of Cosby’s victims. It’s the fallen idol syndrome again.

      Liked by 1 person

    • You might not find them quite so funny now. That is what has happened to me. I can’t put aside what I know, even when I try. I don’t find these guys funny or cute. I just keep thinking “Yes, but … ” and the happy smiles don’t happen. Try watching Mel Gibson being cute and funny. Somehow, it doesn’t work. It’s NOT cute and funny. There’s a dark curtain behind the smile.

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  5. I was listening to late night radio one time and there was this positively divine voice signing a hymn. It was Michael Jackson. I think what he did to children was terrible but he was truly gifted with that voice.
    Leslie

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  6. I can not support certain artists for past behavor. When I see them I think of their awful history. I can not watch a Mel Gibson movie either and am quite surprised he has made a bit of a comeback. I never liked R. Kelly so there so there is no problem there. He is banned from radio and most streaming services anyway. It is the same for Kevin Spacey.
    It took me a long time to buy into the fact that Bill Cosby was a bad guy. I liked him ever since I Spy. All the shows were great. His standup was funny and he was never blue. Now I can not watch, even though some satellite channel has The Cosby Show.
    I could go on and on. Maybe I will turn that into an article some day.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Some of these people who seemed so funny and harmless have turned out to be so awful it’s hard to even reconcile them with whatever mental image we had before — I think Cosby is one of the worst. Spacey was always kind of twisted. It turns out, he really WAS that bad guy he played. And I don’t think I even listened to Kelley’s music.

      And ALL of these guys deny EVERYTHING. No one ever says they are sorry or ashamed. Do they even HAVE consciences?

      Liked by 4 people

      • Cosby is the biggest disappointment for all of us who loved his humor and appreciated his elevation of Black performers. His fall from grace has lots of collateral damage.

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  7. Very good and thought-provoking.

    When you talk about the R Kellys and Mel Gibsons, it’s easy. I won’t listen or watch them. Maybe it’s my age (77 next month) or the paucity of ethics and decent values in the public arena of our nation. It’s easier now for me to say — ENOUGH! I have myself to blame for watching network news and the latest idiocies from our faux commander in chief. I feel like reaching through the TV screen and pummeling him. But I’ve made the choice to see what’s going on in our world. I’m a retired reporter and will always be inquisitive. So, I pay the price on that one.

    When it comes to movies Marilyn has described, it is a bit more complicated for me. I LOVE movies, especially the old Hollywood films. I’ve grown up loving movies. They’re in my lifestyle DNA. Movies are like comfort food to me. I look forward to ending my night, in bed, headphones on – rewatching Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Myrna Loy in those frothy, simplistic and unreal Hollywood offerings from an age when movies were supposed to be an r/x for people clinging to life during the great depression. I know it’s fantasy. That’s WHY I love those movies. It’s the same thing with my guilty pleasure films from the 50’s with Connie Stevens (such a crush), Stella Stevens and other teen sirens from my youth and teen years. I don’t see myself or people like me in any of these movies. I slide that problem to the back of my brain where a lot of garbage resides.

    Yes, yes, yes – I have BIG problems with racial and gender stereotypes. I fast forward through the objectionable stuff if I’m watching films that allow me to zip through “the ugly”.

    There are movies I CAN’T watch – “Mississippi Burning” or “Storm Warning” for example, which deal with the KKK and segregation during the first half of the last century. Even though I covered these stories, sat face to face with bigots and KKK leaders during my career as a TV news reporter, I cannot stomach watching these films for entertainment. It hits HOME as a problem STILL prevalent in our country, encouraged by our current president.

    Marilyn and I still encounter prejudice in homey New England where the Pilgrim’s pride still breeds intolerance in many places.

    I contradict myself when I watch films like “The Searchers” which clearly depicts racism towards Native Americans. Marilyn reached the point where she could no longer watch “The Searchers” which has always been a favorite and considered a masterpiece by John Ford and John Wayne.

    I LOVE westerns. Cowboys and Indians. Yes, I see the treatment accorded Native Americans. We have close friends who are Native Americans. I just cannot deny my love of the good guys versus the bad guys. Marilyn’s feelings about the genocide in these movies have forced me to absorb the inhumanity even as I enjoy the cinematic beauty of “The Searchers” which features John Wayne’s finest performance–deviating from good guy to blatantly racist killer of people with red skin.

    I also watch “Judgement at Nuremberg” which Marilyn, understandly, cannot stomach — another case of “too close to home.”

    The inescapable Holocaust story runs throughout this film as Nazi judges face the international court for their horrible crimes. I’m drawn in by the excellent all star cast, giving memorable performances. Spencer Tracy – the indomitable face of American decency as head judge of the Tribunal. He’s magnificent in scenes where he addresses the inhuman horrors of the Holocaust carried out by German judges who “looked the other way” in sending millions of people to death camps.

    Burt Lancaster – unforgettable as one of the German judges — wracked and torn with guilt by the sentences he’s meted out. Lancaster’s judge goes against the other Nazi judges looking for light sentences or plea deals.

    Maxmillian Schell is powerful as the attorney for the Nazi Judges. He uses the “logic” that America has its own demons with regards to segregation and that the Nazi judges were “just following orders.” His passion is so strong, almost convincing, until you realize what he is trying to do.

    Cameos from Judy Garland and Montgomery Clift as victims of Nazi atrocity are heartbreaking.

    Marlene Dietrich as the weary widow of a Nazi General seeks our pity. The strains of “Lilli Marlene” echo in the dim cafe as Dietrich tries to explain her husband’s role and her life under Hitler.

    It’s riveting stuff. Spencer Tracy listens to Dietrich — attracted, sympathetic and utterly amazed at how she’s trying to justify Nazi evil — “Just following orders. We didn’t know about the camps”.

    There’s so much to absorb in “Judgement At Nuremberg” that a movie buff like me is seduced. However, I understand Marilyn’s emotionsl issues with viewing this film since she grew up with many retellings of the Holocaust at home. I should add that — love of movie aside — I’m shattered by Nazi violence, immorality and mind boggling genocide. It’s very complicated.

    Back to R Kelly. He’s easy. A blight on his own people. A predator, a liar – in angry denial — with a sense of entitlement who is on the verge of pleading “blatant racism” as he faces his victims and charges in court. I also don’t care for his music so, it’s easy to distance from him. The same thing with the likes of Mel Gibson – one of those surface “affable” stars who carry so much intolerance baggage and want to be excused for their “misbehavior.”

    As an ardent movie buff, I’ve learned things about “lovable” character actors from Hollywood’s golden age. Racism, sexism, pedophilia, perversion and all the usual garbage behavior that today is routinely outed by social media. I avoid the movies with these “lovable” actors. You can’t excuse their behavior in the name of an enjoyable, old movie.

    That’s a wrap.

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