Most people know the story. If you’ve been following this week’s big release, The Birth of a Nation, an account of Nat Turner’s life as he went from preacher to orchestrator of our history’s most infamous slave rebellion, you probably already know the sordid controversy surrounding it. Something like fifteen years ago, Nate Parker, the film’s writer-director-star was accused and acquitted of raping a fellow college student. Jean McGianni Celestin, Parker’s college friend and collaborator, was convicted and later acquitted. This information came to light as Parker’s film began picking up steam from the festival circuit, and has cast a shadow over the picture. Some people are refusing to see it. That’s their right. My question to them is, do you watch Woody Allen movies? If you recall, most people seem to have forgotten, Allen was accused of heinous crimes involving his children. Like Parker’s case, Allen has never been proven guilty. Going a step further, you have Roman Polanski, an incredible filmmaker who in 1977 was arrested for statutory rape. How many people still watch Chinatown (1974) or Rosemary’s Baby (1968)? If you watch the 2003 Oscars show, when Polanski was awarded Best Director, you will hear rousing applause; more applause than Charlton Heston received during his tribute at a later Oscars. How many of those people clapping are refusing to watch The Birth of a Nation? Mel Gibson’s been in time out for ten years now for his mess of a personal life. It just occurs to me that the outrage and moral stands are very selective. If you refuse to watch something because you believe that supports the artist’s personal life, then I commend you if, and only if, you are consistent. I, personally, do not care if John Wayne was a racist. Or if Disney was an anti-Semite. I don’t care about Nate Parker the man. I’m only interested in what he brings to his movies. I will watch The Birth of a Nation. I have seen D.W Griffith’s Birth of a Nation. I don’t agree that that reflects on my personal beliefs and I am certainly not endorsing anything.

-Walter Howard

One thought on “Separating Art from Man

  1. Really liked this one and I totally agree, especially seeing as how these men were acquitted of their crimes. I have to admit though, it can cast a shadow on a work knowing a creator actually did commit a heinous crime. For example, the creator of the Jeepers Creepers films is a convicted pedophile and I have to admit there are little scenes in both of those films that in hindsight make me feel uncomfortable knowing who was working behind the camera. But if a work is good, it should be enjoyed even if the creator was a horrible person. We could at least enjoy the one good thing that person did. And especially when a person has only been accused but not convicted of a crime or being only guilty of being kindof a jerk like Mel Gibson, there is no reason to feel bad about enjoying their work. It does not or at least should not reflect on ourselves as the audience. I’m a big fan of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. Both men were racists. They were not perfect and even though both men matured and became less racist later in their lives, all that matters is that they wrote great stories that I enjoy. Josh Norman who wrote the Gor Novels has been essentially outcast by modern feminists for the questionable sexual content of his books calling it sexist. I find that horrible unfair. The man write’s sci-fi fantasy erotica and the people who call him the scum of the earth for his writings and views fall curiously silent about the large majority of modern erotic works. Linkara will talk about Josh Norman like he’s Hitler but he’ll never use that same tone with the likes of Stephanie Meyer, E.L. James, or any number of terrible fan fiction writers.

    Liked by 1 person

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