What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men?

When posed the question, “What do we do with the art of monstrous men?” Claire Dederer’s answer is anything but simple. Her piece, which was published during the height of the Me Too movement, focuses on modern instances of terrible men who put out their work to the world. She approaches and dissects the complexity of this issue, which is not an old problem but is more relevant today than ever. 

Dederer applies her thoughts to the specific situation of Woody Allen, first explaining her emotional connection to him and his work. She watches his works, along with the films of Roman Polanski, and cannot imagine not having the comfort of this art anymore. She doesn’t want it to be tainted by his moral shortcomings. Almost every person today has witnessed one of their favorite artist, musician, director, actor, or comedian outed as a sexual predator or abuser of some kind. It is a disheartening experience shared by millions, thanks to the Internet. 

At this point in Dederer’s piece, I was concerned she was going to explain that it is 100% okay to enjoy these still. However, she returns to the issue later on, explaining a conversation she had with a male writer. She goes on to ask the reader who has the most unbiased view, those who acknowledge the artist’s personal shortcomings, or “The one who had the ability—some might say the privilege—to remain untroubled by the filmmaker’s attitudes toward females and history with girls?” 

This sentence summarizes my opinion in this area better than I could myself. As a woman, I cannot separate a sexual predator from the art he curates. I, along with every other woman I know, has experienced sexual harassment and assault. I do not have the privilege of overlooking this quality in a man, just to appreciate a role he plays in a film. She illustrated that male privilege plays a massive part in separating the art and artist in the Me Too era. As Dederer states, this is a completely emotional stance to take, but it would be unethical to take any other. 

By following this idea through, one can see that an artist and his art are tethered together. It is impossible to study great art without understanding the influences and the motives behind creating it. Dederer investigates Woody Allen’s character in Manhattan, where he plays a middle-aged man dating a high school girl. This displays how Allen’s personal attitude and behavior towards women seep into his acting. As Dereder states, it “seemed to animate the project.” 

Artists take their personal experience and pour it into what they create. It is impossible to deny the connection between an artist’s personal experience and personality and their pieces. In our art history class, we study this daily. An everyday example that most remember is Will Smith’s character in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. In one scene, his character breaks down in tears over his dad’s absence in his life. A video of this went viral, its caption explaining that Smith’s acting was very real considering his relationship with his estranged father in real life. Hundreds of thousands of people praised him for pouring his heart into his work. In the same vein, Allen used his personal urges and desires to create his character in Manhattan.

Dereder’s essay proves that the bond between an artist and art is unbreakable.An artist takes every aspect of his life and uses what he knows to create something. Therefore, enjoying his pieces that were inspired by monstrous acts makes us culpable in his behavior. Supporting predators, abusers, and rapists by consuming their art is unethical. To say that films, music, or pieces are isolated from their creators is a lie told for our comfort.

 

Link to Claire Dederer’s Article:

https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2017/11/20/art-monstrous-men/

Like (0)

A Room Of One’s Own: A Virginia Woolf Analysis

In A Room Of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf dissects a woman’s role in literature as writers, as well as fictional characters. Despite the belief that only male artists existed before her time, Woolf gave this speech to explain why she believed the truth was much more complex. 

Woolf begins by discussing how female characters are portrayed in fiction, as objects to be admired by the male protagonist yet never heard. Women have been romanticized as the subjects of countless stories and poems since the dawn of time. But off paper, the women who inspired these works of fiction were unseen slaves to their husbands who likely were not educated enough to read their writing. In the years preceding Woolf, women did not have access to education at the level their male peers did. With the exception of the upper-class, most women did not have the resources to reach their potential as female writers.

Woolf goes on to discuss the tragedy of being a female genius both in her time, and the Elizabethan era. Though these women were not published and praised like any male intellectual, these women did exist. Woolf believed that “this poet who never wrote a word and was buried at the crossroads still lives,” (11) despite never having a chance to have their work recognized. While many tend to believe there were very few female writers in the past, Woolf believed they existed in silence. They were denied a platform to have their works published and supported because it was considered taboo. 

In her description of Shakespeare’s fictional sister, Woolf truly illustrated the fate of so many talented women of past eras. While men were handed education, work, and respect of everyone around them, a woman could fight her whole life and never have the same results as her male cohorts. No matter what a woman wanted for herself, she was forced to become a child-bearing housewife for her husband by the age of 21. Any sign of retaliation could result in an act of violence that would further push her into solitude and oppression. Woolf wrote that this female writer or artist “lives in you and in me, and in many other women who are not here tonight, for they are washing up the dishes and putting the children to bed” (11). She acknowledged that while many female creatives were suffocated by men and society as a whole, these geniuses existed and wrote all about it.

 

Works cited

Woolf, Virginia; A Room of One’s Own. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. 1929.

Like (0)

Women in Hinduism

 

When it comes to how women are treated throughout different cultures, religion plays a very important role, and perhaps one of the greatest examples of this is Hinduism, not only does the culture of Hinduism play a great role in the lives of women, but women also play a massive role in Hinduism. The portrayal of women is a very important part of Hindu culture and in the Hindu religion, women were often seen as being eye to eye with the men in religious pursuits. Let’s take a look at how Hindu culture has formed and changed over the course of the religion so we can receive some much-needed insight into just how important women can be.

Women in Hinduism can be represented in vastly diverse and even sometimes contradictory ways, ranging from feminine leadership as the highest goddess, to limiting her role to an obedient daughter, housewife, and mother; it’s obvious that how women are viewed can get very confusing at times. Perhaps one of the more progressive stances when it comes to religions is the education of the women, in Hinduism, women having an education is not only allowed, but encouraged and supported, as it is thought that a women who is well educated in the religion and going down the path of Brahma would make a good wife. This education would include Brahmacharya where a woman receives education from when they are born up until the age of twenty-five. During this time a woman would learn alongside the boys and would be encouraged to be as well learned as possible, work like writing and poetry written by women was greatly honored, and you can find many examples as such included in older canonical literature.  As part of Brahmacharya, women were to remain celibate and refrain from marriage until they were finished with their studies. This allowing of education as a sought after trait, and promoting the education of women is very progressive for the time and even today women in other parts of the world and other cultures have a hard time even just fighting for the right to education, let alone it being promoted by the religion.

Another aspect of religious culture as it comes to women has to do with marriage, for many cultures marriage is an important part in not only the man’s life but also very important to the women, for most cultures though marriage can be viewed as a bit of a prison is a way for the women, because in most cultures it traps the women to a life of being a mother and housewife. In Hinduism on the other hand women actually, have a lot of rights as it comes to marriage. Even from early on in the religion women had a higher stature and societal position during the Vedic age (1500-1100BCE) compared to other religions at the same time, this isn’t to say that there weren’t instances of brides being sold into or forced into marriage, but Hindu society early on condoned those actions as unholy and unworthy. Ideally during the Vedic period marriage was a religious sacrament that would make both man and women joint owners of a household, and the old tradition of the wife being viewed as the husband’s property was not yet fully discarded but was on its way out. Another aspect of the rights of women in marriage is the age at which marriages were expected to happen, during the Rgvedic age (2500 – 1500BCE) women would wait to be married until the fairly advanced age of 16 or 17, allowing them ample time to get an education as stated before. During this time period, marriage at the age of 16 or 17 was seen as occurring at a more advanced age than other cultures of the time, who would normally marry off girls much sooner.

As you can see, women in the Hindu culture stood on much more equal ground with the men, not just religiously, but also socially and culturally. Anything from education to owning of land, to even the rights of the women before during and after marriage shows just how progressive the Hindu culture was for the time, and just how important women were revered in their society.

Like (0)