Let us consider the following scenario. Next week, after hundreds of years of relative easy rest, William Shakespeare’s good name is disturbed when someone discovers that he spent much of his life sleeping with married women and occasionally burning down the homes of the men whose wives he wished to bed. Do we need to really ask what sort of impact this would have on our perception of the works of Shakespeare? Would people stop producing the plays or going to productions of the plays?
Of course not. I can’t imagine that it would have much of any impact whatsoever. I find it hard to believe that there would be too many crimes, short of the more heinous ones involving children and human slavery, that would cause us to rethink our relationship with Shakespeare.
I do not mean to make a comparison between Shakespeare and modern actors, writers, musicians, and other artists, but why does it make such a profound impact on our feelings toward them when we find out that they do things that ordinary people do all the time without earning all of the scrutiny? Let us take Charlie Sheen, for example. Arrested for a domestic dispute, people are some now intentionally not watching the show out of a sort of boycott. There is even a Facebook group dedicated to boycotting the show but it is largely overrun with spam posts now.
Let us think of Phil Spector. When you think of Phil Spector, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it such musical masterpieces as “The Long and Winding Road” by The Beatles?
Rather, most people now think of the fact that he was involved in a long and winding trial for murder — one is having its results contested.
Lawyers for legendary music producer Phil Spector have asked an appellate court to throw out his second-degree murder conviction on grounds of judicial error and prosecutorial misconduct.
In an extremely detailed 148-page brief filed Wednesday, the attorneys cited multiple reasons they believe Spector was denied his right to a fair trial. They asked the California Second District Court of Appeal to reverse the jury verdict and order a new trial.
I can appreciate that murder truly is a heinous act and that we should most certainly try and convict any celebrity to the same extent that we pursue any other person who chooses to break the law. However, this does not change the fact that the art that they have made is still valid on its own terms, and that we should not just throw the art away when we find out something we don’t like about the artist. Shakespeare wouldn’t have it any other way.