December 23, 2017

THE LEFT GRAPPLES WITH WHAT TO DO ABOUT ONCE FAVORITE ARTISTS WHO ARE OR WERE VERY DAMAGED SOULS: First up, at Slate, “Does Rotten Apples Toss Out Some Good Ones, Too? The website seeks to sort the movies of bad men from everything else. That’s more fraught than you’d think:”

More than two dozen men with ties to the entertainment industry have been fired, suspended, or otherwise censured in the 10 weeks since the New York Times published its initial exposé of producer Harvey Weinstein. If you’re having trouble keeping up with all the boldface names you should now refile under alleged scum, you’re not alone. In keeping with the rest of the news from this terrible year, the downfalls of accused creeps quickly became a torrent of stomach-churning but easily mix-up-able updates. For moviegoers who wish to avoid films made by or starring sexual malefactors, there should be an effortless way to find out how to watch responsibly.

That, anyway, is the thinking behind Rotten Apples, a searchable database that aims to inform users if a movie involves an actor, screenwriter, director, or producer facing allegations of sexual misbehavior. Enter a movie in the search window, and the site’s left half will deliver a verdict in stark red or green: Rotten Apples or Fresh Apples. “Rotten” results include a link to an article about the pertinent accusations.

And in the book world one blogger asks, “The Book That Made Me a Feminist Was Written by an Abuser. ‘The Mists of Avalon’ changed my life—how do I reconcile that with what I now know about its author?”

By the time I left home for a women’s college in 1989, I’d reread The Mists of Avalon several times. I arrived ready to smash the patriarchy.

And then, in 2014, Moira Greyland, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s daughter, told the world that her mother had sexually abused her and many other children for more than a decade. I didn’t even know how to process this information. I believed Greyland, absolutely, but I just couldn’t make this revelation fit with The Mists of Avalon and what that book meant to me. Bradley was not an author to whom I had a personal attachment. I’d never gotten into anything she’d written besides The Mists of Avalon. Had I been more of a fan, I might have seen the pedophilia threaded through her other work. I might have known that Walter Breen — Bradley’s husband and Greyland’s father — died in prison after being convicted of molesting a child. (Greyland says that there were many, many more victims.) Had I been more of a fan, I might have known that rumors about Bradley and Breen had circulated in the science fiction and fantasy communities for years.

As “Pervnado” extends to more and more of Hollywood, and as more and more past authors are discovered to either have committed real crimes, as Greyland’s parents did, or have simply run afoul of the left’s latest PC censors, there stands a good chance that a fair amount of pop culture history will be tossed into Orwell’s proverbial Memory Hole, as that’s always the left’s first instincts.

It’s much easier for those of us more or less on the right to believe that bad people can make great art (including great pop art), as we already know that many of the people who working in Hollywood and the music industry hate our guts — and in many cases, hate the notion of America itself.

Beyond Polanski’s brilliant Chinatown and Woody Allen’s Annie Hall and Manhattan, there’s a bottomless supply of brilliant pop culture created by awful people. In the 1970s, Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas were Marin Marxists who believed the communist North Vietnamese were the good guys during the Vietnam War, and worked to put those themes into their movies, but who’d want to be without Apocalypse Now and the original Stars Wars?  The subtext of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey fits the definition of fascist moviemaking for both Susan Sontag’s 1975 “Fascinating Fascism” article and the chapter on Hollywood in Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism perfectly. It also contains some of the most arresting images captured on celluloid and its production design and special effects techniques paved the way for the Star Wars, Alien and Star Trek movie series. Ayn Rand’s writing in the ’50s and ’60s was fueled by Benzedrine and she had an affair with young acolyte Nathaniel Branden while they were both married to other partners, but was (and is) many a teenager’s gateway drug into libertarianism. In the music world, John Lennon was a nihilistic pro-NVA wife beater, but also wrote some of the Beatles’ finest songs. Led Zeppelin’s terrifying excesses are legendary.

But as I said, this list is endless. As a result of Harvey Weinstein and the rest of the “Pervnado,” the left’s goal of airbrushing the works of artists who led deeply flawed personal lives out of history has followed almost seamlessly after the recent wave of their statue topplers. Back in August, while the left were still in full-on statue smashing mode, in “The Orwellian War on History,” Brendan O’Neill of Spiked wrote:

The history erasers claim they only want to show how fair our societies now are. Rubbish. This isn’t about making the present better, it’s a projection of political correctness into the past. It’s the punishment of historical figures – even good historical figures, such as Jefferson, and good historical events, such as the settlement of Australia – for not sharing our exact modern world view.

And it reeks of PC paternalism. The idea that minority groups can’t cope with seeing statues of dead people who did some dodgy things is an affront to their intelligence and autonomy. It infantil­ises them, even suggesting they will feel physically wounded by history: after all, “there is a violence” to these statues.

It’s disturbingly ironic: this treatment of certain groups as fragile, as needing to have public life sanitised on their behalf in the way a new mum might baby-proof her home, is riddled with some fairly racist assumptions of its own.

One of the great things about public life is that it’s a patchwork of the historical events that made our nations. Take a walk through a city and you’ll see statues of soldiers, politicians, authors, suffragettes and others who shaped our societies. And most of them will have held views or done things we would consider questionable in 2017. So what? The point is they made history, and it’s right for the public sphere to reflect that.

The logic of the Year Zero crew is that we should see only historical figures they approve of (if there are any). They police history with an eye for policing what we citizens can see and by extension think about the societies we live in.

Earlier this month, when Minnesota Public Radio tossed Garrison Keillor’s segments of the Prairie Home Companion down the memory hole Rod Dreher wrote, “If you only chose to partake of art, music, and literature created by morally upstanding persons, you’d quickly come to the end of what’s available. Museums would empty out. Concert halls would fall silent. Bookstores would have to be repurposed as yoga studios, and movie theaters as hipster churches. The unfortunate truth is that bad, or at least deeply flawed, people often make the best art.”

InstaPundit is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.