By: Rafeea Tamboli

Vincent Cirrincione.  Kevin Spacey. Patrick Meehan.  Three men. Three artists. Three sexual assaulters.  The heated debates over whether it is possible to separate art from the artist have risen once again.  

Art, whether in the form of a painting, movie, or food, is meant to be enjoyed by consumers.  However, figuring out whether or not art can be enjoyed without giving recognition to the artist, a sexual assaulter, is where questions about morality and ethicality come in.  If I watch old reruns of the Today show with Matt Lauer, does that mean that I am condoning his actions?

The financial aspect also plays a key role this view of separation.  Most men accused of sexual assault have been, or currently are, in positions of power.  They are surrounded by money and have a great level of influence over their respective industries.  Continuing to interact with assaulters’ products ultimately lines their pockets with the money that gave them the power and the false sense of security to proceed with their horrendous actions in the first place.  This raises a question regarding ethicality: are you, a consumer, complicit to the sins of sexual assault?

Ethics and morals play a key role in deciding whether an individual can, and should, watch or consume products created by sexual assaulters.  If a person does not feel any guilt or remorse while watching a movie produced by a sexual assaulter or containing actors accused of sexual assault, does that make the consumer immoral?

Unfortunately, there is no black and white answer.  Like many serious and intricate topics, it’s impossible to create a generalization and boil it down to a simple “yes” or “no” answer.

In the end, it comes down to humans’ selfish desire to avoid inconvenience.  It may be convenient for a person to walk past a bottle of Mario Batali’s pasta sauce and instead, pick up another sauce from the shelf that is a few inches away.  It may be inconvenient, however, to stop watching a Harvey Weinstein movie because it’s extremely popular. People pick and choose which, if any, artists they want to boycott.  Regardless of whose movies a person decides to watch or whose clothes a person decides to wear, it is important to restrain from judging people on their decisions. Whether separating art from the artist may be blur the lines of morality and ethicality, scrutinizing an individual for their decisions does not.  

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