About the Woody Allen and Jerry Seinfeld and even Bill Cosby thing: I’m all for keeping considerations of the art apart from the artist, but when it’s as blatant as MANHATTAN makes it, you’ve got to deal with it. When the artist’s personal flaws begin seeping into and warping the work, (Orson Scott Card for instance), then it’s time for reassessing one’s responses.
Lovecraft’s racism caused a stir recently but it was absurd because he was able to sublimate and transform his ugly responses into brilliant horror fiction. He was never directly racist in his fiction, and in fact some of the interpretations came as a bit of a shock to long-time HPL readers. In this instance, keeping artist distinct from his art is no problem.
Robert E. Howard may well have been a repressed gay. He was certainly a momma’s boy. His powerful, ruthless heroic figures might be seen as overcompensation. Maybe Conan and Bran Mak Morn and Solomon Kane and Costigan would be called homoerotic ideals. Who knows? Point is, once again, Howard did not overtly let his own demons warp his fiction in obvious ways so it remains a matter of academic speculation.
Seinfeld never openly dealt that I can recall with his penchant for underage girls. That was kept in his private life. However, his show was about 90% Larry David anyhow, so to analyze SEINFELD you’d have to deal more with the George Costanza charater, played by Jason Alexander.
Again, Cosby kept his personal darkness out of his act, except of course for that one creepy comedy skit about Spanish Fly. Even then he kept it cute.
Woody Allen, though, in MANHATTAN, actually dives right in, directly using his own compulsions and actions as the material of his script and film, in which he stars no less. Even Hitchcock at least had the savvy to hire Cary Grant to substitute for his frustrated desires and projections.
The novel Lolita comes to mind. Nabokov took flack for it, but I’m unaware of any basis in reality in his own life. No doubt there was some, observational if not experiential, but who knows?
Kubrick’s film LOLITA with James Mason is somewhat toned down and slightly changed from the novel, inevitably. It is more comedic too, less dire. Still, do people accuse of Kubrick of being a stalker and romancer of underage girls, especially slutty, seductive, precocious ones?
Nothing anyone can say will sort this stuff out, and each of us must find our way through the brambles, but remember, as you struggle, the big, loud, simplistic answers are usually bullshit, and might cover things in yourself you don’t want to deal with. Just sayin’.
I’ll keep making the arch pronouncement that Art and Artist are two distinct things, but we all know it’s a Venn diagram with some, and sometimes a lot of, overlap.
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