Don’t separate the art from the artist

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Bill Cosby. Woody Allen. Al Gore. Roman Polanski. Mike Tyson. Bill Murray. Sean Bean. Charlie Sheen. R. Kelly. Nicolas Cage. Sean Penn. Tupac. Terry Richardson. Jian Ghomeshi. Chris Brown. John Lennon.

What do these men have in common? Besides their obvious fame, they’ve all been accused or convicted of committing violence against women.

Even if convicted in a court of law, they often aren’t convicted in the court of public opinion — not forever, at least.

It’s easier to forget what they’ve done. After all, Bill Cosby is America’s dad; John Lennon was in the Beatles, an internationally beloved band; Woody Allen directed many of the 20th century’s classic films.

But 27 women have accused Cosby of rape; Lennon admitted in an interview to beating women; Allen was accused of sexual abuse by his ex-stepdaughter.

It leaves a bad taste in my mouth to know the first accusation against Cosby was made in 2000, not 2014. It feels worse to realize he may not remain convicted in the court of public opinion, since we’re all too willing to forgive talented people time and time again.

Think about Woody Allen. Mia and Dylan Farrow brought allegations of abuse back into public consciousness last year, though the world first heard them in 1993. For a few weeks, everyone had an opinion about Woody Allen.

And now he has a television deal with Amazon.

Before I knew anything about Allen’s personal life, I loved watching his films. It’s hard to see your heroes as not only fallible, but despicable.

While I’d love to separate art and artist, I can’t with these men.

It seems that society can, though. The “24-hour news cycle” moves so fast that it’s easy to move on to the next scandal or tragedy. The media is briefly saturated with Woody Allen one day, and the next it’s silent. We forget to keep thinking about what Dylan Farrow accused him of — except when he’s brought up, and then we remember long enough to express disgust.

Then we forget again.

I’m not saying the only things we should ever think about are accusations and convictions against famous men, but we can’t keep remembering and forgetting, again and again.

The women they abused don’t forget what these men did. We shouldn’t either.

So keep talking about Bill Cosby. Talk about Woody Allen, Sean Penn, Al Gore and all the others. Don’t forget what they did. Don’t let anyone else forget, either.

It’s the absolute least we owe to their survivors.

Chloe is the Journal’s News Editor. She’s a fifth-year history major and Jewish studies minor.

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