The #MeToo movement brought alleged sexual abusers like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Les Moonves, and Charlie Rose to the forefront of the national conversation. Once respected for their work, these men were now defined for their histories as sexual predators who irresponsibly wielded their power over men and women in the media and entertainment industries.
The movement also reignited older accusations, like those against Woody Allen and Roman Polanksi; and while many people were able to acknowledge that abusive behavior had no place in our society, they still struggled to separate the alleged abusers from their art. It's a complicated issue and one even Hollywood stars like Nicole Kidman and Glenn Close still struggle with today.
For her October cover story interview with Marie Claire, Kidman emphasized this point. "I look at those films that Polanski made, and they're amazing. I'm sort of navigating through it myself with my own moral compass," she said. "What do you do? Do you ban it? Or see it as art? Or judge it in this time looking back at that time? I have no answer."
Close, however, seems to have her thoughts on the argument a bit more ironed out, saying that she is willing to see artists and their work as separate entities.
"I still have to ask myself, do you negate somebody's total body of work because they have acted badly?" she said during an interview with the UK's Sunday Times. "Our species is complex, and the same person is capable of making something beautiful and doing something heinous. In some ways, art comes out of that capacity."
What further complicates things is that Close admitted that she, too, had been subjected to sexual misconduct in Hollywood in the past.
"One was in front of an established Hollywood producer," she said. "He sat behind his desk with one of the biggest stars ever — who, in the middle of our reading, put his hand on my thigh. As small as that action was, it had nothing to do with the scene we were doing, and it froze a big part of me. I was thinking, 'Why did you do that? How am I supposed to respond here? I didn't know what to do?"
The second instance was similar to the first. She walked into an audition to find that she, and not her male counterpart, was the only person with lines, which she now believes was an intentional ploy to get her to "seduce him." "It's like putting two dogs together and seeing if they couple," she said. "It was years later that I thought, 'OK, I get it, that's the game.'" (Refinery29 reached out to reps for Kidman and Close for comment.)
Just because something's the norm doesn't make it right, and just because someone is great at their work doesn't make them an upstanding person. As Kidman and Close prove, drawing those distinctions and pledging to write off any alleged abusers isn't always so simple. Many people have emotional connections to films, TV shows, and music performed by abusers, and many of these same people are now trying to figure out if their love for and experiences with these art mediums are any less valid in light of more recent, and very serious, allegations.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).