Art v. Dodgy Politics

My dilemma at present is a moral one: what can I, in good conscious, watch of an evening? Royalty pennies from my subscription filter back to films’ creators, each member presumably receiving a proportion based on their contract, if not their importance in the piece. And, of course, the more times a film is viewed, the higher it is ranked via algorithm and thus the more likely it is to be viewed by others. With this in mind, what can I choose?

This is not simply a question of taste and whim, mind you. My views and time are transmuted into financial gain for someone, and I want to make sure that the receiver is someone who I find worthy. The line between worthiness and unworthiness, however, is blurred.

None of us is completely clean. We’ve all committed venal – even mortal – sins. Laws are broken in passion and in evasion. Yet, we often learn from our mistakes, collect our guilt and move on, vowing to not return down that path. We can forgive ourselves if we learned a lesson that improves.

But what if a law was broken habitually – or, if in breaking a law even once, someone else’s life was ruined? If that outlaw was not ourself, would we choose to support that person? How do we deal with a much-loved film or a piece of literature if we learn that the creator/trix lived a life inflicting cruelty on others? What if our hard-earned money went to those who commit atrocities against the most vulnerable?

That’s them, of course. Now to us. Should we be made to forgo what are arguably cultural masterpieces in the face of unspent convictions like the still-at-large Roman Polanski? Is it too extreme to consider that we avoid a film all our friends discuss? Do we forgive them once they’re dead, like the abusive, womanising Hemingway? Or do we simply forgive them because they create art: that highest form of human expression?

While we cannot change our tastes, perhaps we can look for others who embody the same qualities we appreciate, even if their glimpses of genius are still granular, still uncultivated. Hopefully, with the same financial backing and nurturing that those toppled (or, indeed, still standing) paragons of poor virtue once received, the artists in less controversial standing will be able to take their place and create the art that we all need to heal.

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