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Can we admire talented abusers?

Somewhat related to the question of how we should relate to the works of an offensively homophobic author is the question– raised by Aly Neel– of how we should feel about celebrities who engage in, apologize for or approve of domestic violence (Chris Brown, Rihanna, Sean Penn, Charlie Sheen, Eminem, Sean Connery), alleged child molestation (Woody Allen) or rape (Roman Polanski). Can we, or should we, separate their disgusting personal behavior from appreciation of their talent?

I hadn’t seen this clip from an interview with Connery (doing his best impersonation of Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi), but I think I’ll have a hard time enjoying any of his performances from now on.

And let’s not forget the late author Norman Mailer, whose reputation suffered barely at all after he stabbed his then-wife in 1960. (In fact it probably added to his cachet in some circles.) Unfortunately that doesn’t change the fact that “The Naked and the Dead” is still a great novel.

Neel writes:

There are plenty of talented performers in the world–don’t tell me we can’t find a few who don’t abuse women.

Which seems reasonable enough. If only talented performers (or directors or authors) were interchangeable.