In January, The Birth of a Nation played to a robust standing ovation at the Sundance Festival and set a new record for the purchase of a film. It's a film our country could learn from at a critical time in which we're dealing with so much unrest regarding racial issues. We have personally been looking forward to it since hearing about it, Erik especially. And yet, because of the actions of writer/director/actor Nate Parker, and his co-writer Jean McGianni Celestin when the two were roommates at Penn State, the film is now embroiled in controversy. The two men were accused of raping a woman who was apparently drunk and allegedly unconscious. Parker was acquitted of the charges, while Celestin was convicted but won the right to appeal, at which point prosecutors decided not to retry him. This news has resurfaced because it recently came out that the woman the two were accused of assaulting committed suicide in 2012.
While Parker continues to state that the woman gave consent, the facts are fuzzy. Only two men know for sure what happened, but regardless it is a devastating reality for this young woman's family and everyone affected by these events. The question many are asking now is whether or not we can separate the art of The Birth of a Nation from the tainted image of the artist when it releases on October 7.
This question is also being asked of Woody Allen, who has a new TV series coming out and continues to make films beloved by Hollywood, but has been accused of sexual abuse by his former stepdaughter, Dylan Farrow.
Mel Gibson has a new film, Hacksaw Ridge, releasing on November 4. Gibson has also seen his reputation tainted by recordings of racist, bigoted drunken rants.
The list goes on with Roman Polanski, Bill Cosby, and others. Can we separate these artists and their sins from the art they have created? Should we?
We tackle this topic on this episode. There are no easy answers, as you will hear me say repeatedly around the 6 minute mark (I need to hire a better editor who doesn't let me sound like an idiot). But we wanted to wrestle through this together, and invite others in to the discussion to show us where we might be wrong or may have overlooked something.
So gather round the wireless (probably won't want to let the kids listen to this one), give us a listen, and let us know what you think. Will you see The Birth of a Nation or Hacksaw Ridge, both of which deal with matters of faith? Do Bill Cosby's many alleged assaults alter your ability to enjoy The Cosby Show? Should we judge art that involves many people by the behavior of one?