Built With Greatness Inside
After all of this, you might be asking yourself, “Does any of this really matter? Haven’t these films been tainted? How can we watch them without being reminded of these monsters and their misdeeds?”
These are valid questions. Yet like everything else here, there are no easy answers.
That's because art and media derive their value from us, the audience. A film has no intrinsic value, but when enough people choose to spend their time and money interacting with it, value is created.
So in one sense, a "tainted" piece of media is still valuable as long as enough people choose to voluntarily consume it.
But let's go beyond simple monetary value. What about moral value?
This, too, is rather complex.
Art doesn't come with instructions for how it should be interpreted, and it wouldn't matter if it did.
We all bring our own beliefs, values, and taste to the table when we consume a piece of art. And because we each bring our own unique stew of predispositions, it's possible for us to come away from the exact same movie with two completely different opinions about the intrinsic value of what we just watched.
Here's an example.
Let's say you and I go to see Manhattan, a classic Woody Allen flick where his 40-something character is dating a 17 year-old girl.
Because I'm a cinematography nerd, I might leave the film awestruck at the gorgeous black and white cinematography of Gordon Willis, despite thinking the subject matter is distasteful and "on the nose."
You might go into the same movie, ignore the cinematography completely, and focus on just how inappropriate the subject matter is given the context of Allen's life.
Walking out of the theater, we'd have dramatically different opinions about whether Manhattan was tainted and whether other people should see it.
That's what I'm getting at here. There are no easy answers because we all value different things, and art has the uncanny ability to reflect those values back at us.
So at the end of the day, a piece of art can only be considered tainted when we collectively decide it to be so.
And this has happened with certain pieces of media. The Cosby Show comes to mind as an example. I don't think any reasonable person, knowing the context, can watch the show and not be put off by the glaring hypocrisy between what's presented on screen, and the dark reality of Cosby's life.
But very few of these cases come with that level of clarity and collective certainty.
For the rest of these films and shows, their fate lies in the hands of each individual faced with the decision to consume them.