by Jeff Marshall
I had every intention of continuing The Jeffy Awards this week.
They will definitely be popping up in the future. There are lots and lots of potential categories floating around the recesses of the black chasm I call my brain.
Instead, I have decided for this one week to derail the Fun Friday Amtrak and go a little serious, a little deep. I want to share with you a struggle I’ve had for a long time – years actually. It’s a struggle that has resurfaced recently, and unfortunately age has made me none the wiser.
I’ve been debating exactly how to explain this, but I’m basically torn as to what separation there should be (if any) between art itself and the artist himself or herself.
Let me be more specific. The media is obviously having a field day with the whole Bill Cosby situation. I actually have been doing a little research this week — reading opinions, watching interviews, perusing news clips. One could literally spend 24/7 from now through Christmas without running out of material to examine. I’m sure we’ve only seen the tip of the Titanic-sized iceberg, too.
The point of this blog is not to comment on Mr. Cosby’s guilt or innocence. My point is to admit that I am concerned that the immediate reaction of people seems to be to to burn his records, pull his TV show from every channel, and to basically try to obliterate every contribution he’s made in the past and all the things that made us love him in the first place.
In the movie MOMMIE DEAREST, after recently breaking up with her beau, Joan Crawford is shown sitting on her bed with a pair of scissors, cutting his face out of every picture. Her young daughter sees this and much to her dismay comments, “If she doesn’t like you, she can make you disappear.”
I want to stress once again, I am not here to comment on the situation specifically. Yet, is it necessary to act like the villagers in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, running toward the castle with torches and swords, anxiously awaiting a quick execution?
It bothers me that so many people seem to have forgotten that we are to HATE the sin and LOVE the sinner, no matter how heinous the crime. After reading comments by people, it’s obvious there is no love involved — only a rather perverse enjoyment in watching someone’s life deteriorate.
I want to believe that we can still appreciate the wonderful contributions of a not-so-wonderful person. After all, we are ALL not-so-wonderful persons.
Pulling THE COSBY SHOW from the air is not going to erase what has happened. Pulling THE DUKES OF HAZARD reruns because the confederate flag is on the General Lee is not going to relieve the pain of those who fall on either side of this controversial issue.
I can’t help but wonder what’s going on in the minds of young children. Is it possible they think if they do something wrong, they will also be cut out of the photographs, left to become an outcast with a scarlet “A” on their chests?
I would love to hear comments, if you feel passionately on one side or the other. I love debate between people who care for one another and who aren’t offended when someone else doesn’t agree with them. I absolutely love to hear opinions from all sides.
Thank you for allowing me this tangent. I know it’s not the type of Fun Friday blog you’re used to, but I think this could generate some good conversation, and I hope you all have a chance to talk to your children about unconditional love and the power of forgiveness.
Looking forward to hearing from you. Have a blessed weekend!
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Jeff is a musician, humorist, gardener, and uncle. Jeff is Sara’s cousin, life-long dear friend, and “Uncle Oscar” (our nickname for him because of his love of all things movie) to Sara’s kids. Our lives have been intertwined in the most blessed way!
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Jeff Marshall says
Thank you ALL for the comments – it’s gratifying to know that you read the blog and felt strongly enough to share your views. It is such a sensitive topic right now, and I honestly go back and forth in my thoughts. Censorship is so dangerous, and I fear the repercussions of too many occasions such as this. Am I supporting Bill Cosby the person if I want to watch an episode of THE COSBY SHOW? And what about all the other actors, directors, writers, craftsmen and craftswomen who possibly rely on the residual of that show to help pay their bills? It’s about more than just ONE person. I think Sara hit the nail on the head in her comment – it’s a bit more disconcerting when the individual in question is not only remorseless and unwilling to admit his guilt but also has spent a good portion of his life using his talent to promote family values. It’s like finding out Captain Kanagroo was a drug dealer or Mister Rogers locked his kids in the closet. But can’t we still learn from and appreciate WHAT has been given us rather than concentrating on WHO gave it to us? It’s a never-ending cycle of MAYBEs and WHAT-IFs and WHO KNOWSes which certainly lend to some fascinating discussion.
Sara @ The Holy Mess says
I posted my comment on Facebook. Reposting it here. This was an interesting post and very well written by Jeff, but I don’t totally agree with it. I can’t separate the art from the artist. Bill Cosby. Yes, his work still stands. Yes, he is forgiven. But is it tarnished in my mind? Yes. Do I expect him to be perfect? No. But when someone portrays one ideal in public and is something totally different in private, it does affect my view of them.
I see what you are saying with Bill promoting one thing, then doing another. I don’t enjoy hypocrisy either, but I think we all (possibly) may have a little of that. My kids are less likely to be rude when there is a guest around. I am very friendly to guests, but then when they leave, I may not exhibit the same grace towards my husband or kids. Or yelling for the kids to keep quiet!
A piece of a bible verse came to mind, which is that we are meant to keep no record of wrongs. Tricky in some situations, because we do need to keep ourselves safe. So we can forgive people, but not trust them until they have consistently, over time, earned that trust. But also, we are meant to follow His ways, which are greater than our ways. That can be really hard, especially if what the offender has done is really bad, but it doesn’t change the fact that we are called by God to do it. One thing that helps me is to know that it is okay to do everything I can to keep my family safe, and that I can still think of everything true, right, lovely, excellent, admirable, praiseworthy, etc about that person, (because everyone has some good in them), even whilst keeping them at a safe distance. And if it is a problem, we are told in Philippians to not be anxious, but with prayer and supplication to give all our concerns to the Lord. He is ultimately in charge, can dish out whatever He needs to to whomever, and can be trusted to do all things perfectly.
Because I still do not know about this Bill Cosby thing (and still don’t need to find out), it brings in some other aspects for me. 1. It hasn’t had a personal affect on me, so it is much easier to not get caught up in the situation, and therefore still enjoy the ‘art’ (if Bill Cosby was my thing). 2. God has brought another piece of a verse to mind, which is that we are meant to mind our own business, and work diligently with our hands. So perhaps as serious God/Jesus followers, we may be better to keep our eyes focused Him first, and then on our homes and families. 3. Another piece of verse came to mind! That we will be judged the same as we judge others. 4. Is it gossip? I’m trying to avoid that too. I don’t think God wants His sons and daughters to do that.
I hope that made sense. It is very late at night where I am 🙂
I live in New Zealand, and without a tv (by choice), and so have missed everything you are talking about. However I wanted to comment and say that I loved your writing style in this post, and would feel for me that it is your best piece of writing. Your serious, emotive, and godly side is attractive in terms of what is lovely and interesting to read, and worth spending my time on 🙂 I hope this encourages you! A beautiful post that points us back to Jesus. Thank you!
Dave Steele says
Jeff, that was a very thought provoking essay. What is it that makes people revel in a celebrity’s fall from grace? I find it interesting when people suddenly reject the work of an artist when their foibles come to light. By these standards,if we knew the secrets of every artist, how many works of art would there be left to enjoy?
Valerie Wells says
I think for me, each situation has to be considered separately. With Cosby as an example, his show and Fat Albert and most of his comedy books and albums did much good. The show depicted a middle class, intact black family with caring parents who guided their children to follow suit. Good role modeling there. The Dukes never did or said anything racist, so why yank them because they had a rebel flag on their car? Rebel flags are everywhere in the south. Today it’s about identifying with the south and not slavery, but grits at every meal, sweet tea, a slower pace and country music. And cowboy boots as dress shoes. I lived in the south. I can’t think of anybody who displayed a rebel flag whose purpose was bashing black people or bringing back slavery. It was always about pride in your home and its way of life. On the other hand, some artists’ art is a direct reflection of their personality. “Gangsta” rap which glorifies a thug lifestyle and demeans women, for example. I hate rap and wouldn’t listen to it anyway, but I have to think if that’s all they rap about, that must reflect their views, and I don’t want anybody to make them rich for being misogynistic thugs. Perhaps music is different and more personal. Trace Adkins is prone to patriotic and family values songs, and that’s a reflection of his views. I’ve interviewed him. That’s the way he really is. He’s rough around the edges, but he has a good heart and that shows in HIS art.
April Scribner Shields says
Hi Jeff. Boy did you open a can of worms! Sometimes I think about, “vote with your wallet” and “if you subsidize it, you just get more.” If I don’t want to support or enable a life of sin, especially one setting a poor example for young people, I don’t purchase that person’s product or art. If the art itself is in poor taste, this is easy. Then there are the one where the art would be enjoyable, but the artist has let fame and fortune cloud judgement. Many saints did horrible deeds before turning their lives around. I guess we pray that artists mature and take responsibility. If so, the poor decisions of youth are simply that. Persisting in heinous behavior is poor character but the artist’s true character then. There’s that snowball effect of thoughts, actions, character, reputation, legacy.