We've just heard Lars von Trier make some outrageous claim about sympathising with Hitler. Polanski has also got away with seducing under age girls. Carravagio was a blatant peodophile, and yet all is forgiven because they are great artists. Is this ok?
Hell no. If you ask me, they should all be dragged out in the middle of the street and shot if I had my way with them. However, you can't deny how great they both are at their perspective visionary crafts.
Well Oscar Wilde was given a pretty tough time for having a relationship with a schoolboy when he had a wife and 5 children. People still talk of Wilde as a gay martyr; a victim. Would people feel the same if Wilde had been a green grocer or a head master instead of a brilliant writer I wonder?
I honestly don't know, and more than likely don't care what the majority of America thinks, as this country was bought and paid for a long time ago. Not only that, but people are always going to believe whatever the hell they want. Or to be more specifically, they believe whoever they deem to be a reliable source of information; regardless of the facts proving otherwise.
Those examples given remind me of lots of people I know in real life. LOL! WHat is to say lots of people don't get similar fancy notions? Idi Amin managed to terrorise a whole nation and he was nuts, apparently. It's when they become powerful that people become afraid of them. "Ambition bites the nails of success" perhaps?
Put someone of equal "screw-looseness" in charge of running a Bank, and watch what happens? "Lehman's part 2" Maybe?
Generally, societies back nutters if society does well from their leadership. Okay, I am done...
Aside from the abuse of wealth and power - artists are to some extent exempt as they are working on the fringes of knowledge and society - also looking at historical figures is fraught with misunderstanding as we forget that the views of today's society were not the views of theirs. Shelley, one of the most admired poets ever, married a 16 year old girl , quite normal at the time and not so long after girls were considered eligible for marriage at 14. In a time when it was normal to die young (Keats died at 25) it would be a reasonable practice in many ways - that is not so reasonable now.
The balance between artistic licence and pure licence is not so easy to see and different people see it differently at different times. Polanski might be considered to have stepped over to pure licence, but then what about the American Professor who advocated free love and drugs and slept with many of his students, occasionally many at the same time ?
Personally, I don't think it's ok. The law binds society together by forcing everyone to abide certain standards of conduct. The freedom of action of the rich should be circumscribed by the law to the same extent the law limits the freedom of action of the poor.
That said, I think this would be the counter-argument: If Polanski had been on the verge of curing cancer, we might be willing to overlook his conduct. It just doesn't make sense to let millions die in order to punish their would-be savior. Polanski, as a genius-artist, makes contributions of substantial, if perhaps not quite so significant or tangible, and so it is wise for us to make some concessions to enable him to continue his work. Humanity is richer because he is free to pursue his art rather than rot in a cell.
Like I said, that's the argument, I don't agree with it.