Recently, a friend questioned why I listen to Stone Cold Steve Austin’s podcast when he’s a known intimate partner abuser. He makes a fair point, as I have shunned Sean Penn and Michael Fassbender movies and R. Kelly and Chris Brown’s music (not that I really had an interest in them to begin with) because of their woman-hating ways. But by the same token, I listen to 2Pac, John Lennon and Prince despite knowing their histories of similar assaults.
I replied that you can’t watch, listen to or read anything these days where the creator and/or their characters haven’t committed a crime or moral transgression. There’s Woody Allen, Game of Thrones, Michael Jackson and, to varying degrees, Bryan Singer, Fassbender and Halle Berry of the current X-Men film.
A lot of the pop cultural morsels I’ve mentioned above I first consumed before I knew about their creators’ wicked ways. I got into professional wrestling and all its problems, rap and hip hop and their misogynist lyrics, and the Beatles and MJ as a teen whose feminist ideals were in their infant stages, but by no means as staunchly militant as they are today. It’s easy to make the conscious effort not to consume products made by artists whose questionable morals you’re already aware of, not so much when you’ve already got a passion for them. (I’ve had conversations with people in recent weeks who did not know about Singer’s rape allegations nor Fassbender’s violent streak; their inner torment about liking something made by someone reprehensible [or at least someone who’s committed reprehensible acts] was evident in their pained, conflicted responses.) When I pointed this out to my abovementioned podcast friend, he asked whether that meant I thought I was exempt from examining the issues with famous men being rewarded for their transgressions just because I happen to like the stuff they produce.
“Absolutely not,” I replied. But by the same token, if we were to avoid problematic pop culture, we’d never leave the house!
I think the most important thing is not to make excuses about the problematic pop culture we choose to consume. I can’t say if I’ll continue to listen to Austin’s podcast but if I do I’ll be sure not to be hypocritical about it. No excuses here.
Related: Why Are Famous Men Forgiven for Their Wrongdoings, While Women Are Vilified for Much Less?
Elsewhere: [The Smoking Gun] Stone Cole Steve Austin Roughs Up Girlfriend.
[Lipstick Alley] Flashback: Sean Penn Beat Madonna for 9 Hours in 1987; Charged with Felony Domestic Assault.
[TMZ] Girlfriend Fears Inglorious Basterds Star.
[Village Voice] Read the “Stomach-Churning” Sexual Assault Allegations Against R. Kelly in Full.
[MTV] Chris Brown Police Report Provides Details of Altercation.
[Lipstick Alley] Why Isn’t Tupac Remembered as a Rapist?
[Listverse] Top 10 Unpleasant Facts About John Lennon.
[Daily Mail] Sinead O’Connor Talks About Punch Up With Prince.
[Vanity Fair] Mia’s Story.
[Jezebel] Game of Thrones, Sex & HBO: Where Did TV’s Sexual Pioneer Go Wrong?
[Wikipedia] 1993 Child Sexual Abuse Accusations Against Michael Jackson.
[Slate] What We Know So Far About the Hollywood Sex Ring Allegations.
[People] Collision Course.
[TheVine] Can a Feminist Love Professional Wrestling?
[TheVine] Wonder Why They Call U Bitch.
[Social Justice League] How to Be a Fan of Problematic Things.