Thursday, May 26

Loving the Art, Hating the Artist

I can't really say I'm a Lars Von Trier fan because I've only seen his film "Antichrist." Described by some critics as "the most misogynist film of all time," "Antichrist" was bloody and scary and downright graphic. Though I am much more intrigued by Von Trier's new film, "Melancholia," which is the story of a woman's wedding that occurs on the same day as a new planet (Melancholia) is crashing towards Earth. An apocalypse theme combined with a dramatic wedding plot line seemed interesting, and the trailer is fantastically dark.

Though anyone familiar with Lars Von Trier's recent interviews can understand that he is...well, basically an asshole.
“I really wanted to be a Jew and then I found out that I was really a Nazi. You know, because my family was German, Hartmann. Which also gave me some pleasure...[Hitler] he did some wrong things. Yes, absolutely. But I can see him sitting in his bunker in the end...
I will ... no, I’m just saying that I think I understand the man. He’s not what you would call a good guy, but yeah, I understand much about him and I sympathise with him a little bit. Not but come on, I’m not for the Second World War. And I’m not against Jews."
Such a quote is impossible to take out of context. He said those things and it was really, really weird. Kirsten Dunst was flustered and looked deeply embarrassed for the director during the interview. Von Trier got banned from Cannes for the things he said and Jewish Groups were up in arms.

Please don't say your a Nazi when you aren't because I'm going to take you seriously no matter what. I don't like anti-semitism and I really don't take holocaust jokes lightly. If someone tells me they sympathize with Hitler, even if they joke about it, I'm never really going to look at them the same way. It's just who I am. So what does this mean for Von Trier's films? Am I to boycott them?

Respecting the art but disrespecting the artist is something I've run into a few times before. The classic example is Woody Allen, whose films I obsess over (I currently have MIDNIGHT IN PARIS typed dramatically in my computer calender for when it comes to Philadelphia.) But I can't forget that Woody Allen has, in my opinion, an almost disgusting relationship with his wife Soon-Yi who was, really, his daughter. PLEASE do not give me that "they aren't biologically related" shit because he was involved in her life in a completely father-like way, and to watch someone grow from a child into an adult and then marry them is simply weird. Another favorite director of mine, Roman Polanski, had sex with a thirteen year old girl when he was 43! THAT'S REALLY GROSS! But his films are brilliant and remain some of my favorite movies of all time.

It's confusing to love the things these men produce but then strongly disapprove some of things they've done in life. I really respect the films these directors make but it's so hard for me to remember how terrible these people are. Allen, Polanski, and Von Trier are geniuses in their line of work...but they're also total losers. By following their work and supporting their artistic visions, am I somehow saying I support what they've done in life? Does having a great talent suddenly compensate for a lack of morals?

What is your opinion? Have you ever really loved the work a director/musician/artist has created even though the artist is really not the greatest person?

10 comments:

Spencer Tweedy said...

There are soo many douchebag musicians.. I really love the White Stripes but after watching It Might Get Loud, I couldn't help but think, "Wow, Jack White, you're kind of a try-hard dick." Of course, A) that's just one, edited representation of him, and B) that's NOTHING compared to saying you sympathize "a little" with HITLER, but...

Emily said...

Tyler the Creator

Leah P. said...

i think it's maybe easier to excuse a directors behavior if some time has lapsed. the Woody and Soon-Yi affair was definitely weird and not fair at all to Mia or their children, but i mean they've been married for 14 years now. i don't really but him in the same category as Von Trier or Polanski. But even with those two, Polanski i can separate his work from his personal life entirely, and although Von Trier totally bums me out for being a douchebag at Cannes, i wasn't aware of his personality when i watched Dogville or Dancer in the Dark and those are two incredible films that offer really intriguing depictions of society. i think i have a harder time separating the director from his (it's always "his" in this case really) work when i learn of their persona early on. Vincent Gallo, for example, i find to be one of the most repulsive men i can think of. so even though i thought Buffalo '66 was fantastic, after reading about how he treated Christina Ricci on set, and what a terrible person he is, i vowed to never see another one of his films again. it's weird. i don't know if my logic even makes sense. i'd like more directors to be like Michael Haneke so that they can make super provocative films without being disgusting people themselves. OK DONE, LONGEST COMMENT OF MY LIFE.

the fashion turd said...

..i was going to say Vincent Gallo too....i have watched buffalo 66 so many times and the chemistry between him and ricci in the film is so magical....i guess it just goes to show what a good actress she must have been!

Anonymous said...

The challenge is that the list of who we would have to say goodbye to would be too much of a sacrifice. Poe, Lolita as a literary masterpiece and Jimmy Page. I think it helps if the fanship came before the crime.

Anonymous said...

personally dont feel offence but getting all indignant then letting it dwindle for a time (says above comments) so you can put it out of your memory to enjoy the films, really??
i dont think it has to be asked at all, being a fan of the art that represents a particular subject/view doesnt mean you support every life long decision or opinion a person has had

emily said...

i don't think woody allen is a terrible person or a total loser at all. if he didn't make movies, my life wouldn't be the same. he made those movies because of who he is. art and the artist go hand in hand, you can't have one without the other

emily said...

it also depends on what your definition of all these words are! what is morality? what makes a person great? MINDFUCK

Anonymous said...

hmmmmmm......who knows what goes down in very wealthy genius's private lives. There is SO much we will never know, I'm sure. Don't assume that because someone hasn't been exposed they're not doing even crazier shit. A friend of a friend slept with Quentin Terentino when she was 16. Significant difference between 16 and 13, but you get me. The majority of ridiculously wealthy men are like this. It's not just a few individuals, it's an entire elite society of pervs. So, yeah.

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