The Naughty and the Nice

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The Naughty and the Nice

Postby Lomax on November 13th, 2017, 1:48 am 

In the wake of Louis CK's belated confession to acts of sexual harrassment, Matt Zoller Seitz of vulture.com argues that we will have to recontextualise CK's comedy, which is now contaminated by the private life of its creator and performer:

When disturbing stories about respected artists come from the distant past, we treat them dispassionately, as just one detail among many. Present-tense or near-present-tense revelations hit us differently because we share the same world as the artist, breathe the same air, feed the same economy. We think of them as contemporaries, even as people we know. This kind of revelation changes the relationship between the artist and the art, in a way that places an unasked-for, unfair burden on the audience. This is what’s happening culturewide. And it’s not the fault of people who didn’t report it, or audiences who aren’t sophisticated enough to separate the art from the artist. It’s the fault of the artists for being secret creeps or criminals, and the fault of the system for making it possible for them to act this way for years without being punished.

The allegations against C.K. also constitute a form of betrayal, against an audience that trusts artists to make edgy, even unlikable work, and gives them the benefit of the doubt when they wade into the deepest, darkest parts of their imagination.

...

There’s no reason to feel remorse for disinvesting affection we sank into artists who are later revealed to be criminals or abusers. There’s no reason to have qualms about stamping their work “Of Archival Interest Only” and moving on to something new — not just new work, but a new paradigm for relationships in show business, and all business. The women who came forward opened themselves to being ostracized and re-traumatized. The only reason they spoke up is to make show business, and the world, safer and more humane. Time to listen.

Perhaps it says something unpleasant about me of which I am yet to learn, but most of my favourite art turns out to have been made by highly questionable people. My favourite comedian and the producer, director and lead actor of one of my favourite TV shows, Louie, is revealed to be a sex pest. My favourite film, American Beauty, stars Kevin Spacey, who now stands accused of making sexual advances on children. My favourite radio show was presented by Russell Brand, who (to his credit never denied that he) was for a long time a thief. The lead guitarist of Led Zeppelin slept with a 14 year old girl. The frontman of the White Stripes was arrested for assault. Nabokov, both in his literary obsession with paedophilia and his constant unsolicited invectives against Freud, gives us reason to be suspicious. Roald Dahl was an antisemite and an adulterer. Lewis Carroll was probably, albeit not provably, a paedophile. William Shakespeare was an antisemite (and here the analogy may fall, because we know this from reading The Merchant of Venice). My favourite philosophers often turn out to have been racists or adulterers or otherwise cads.

Is it too much to ask that the creator be good in order for the product to be good? Is it a category error? A genetic fallacy? Or should we bin (or as the linked journalist argues, "archive") all this stuff as soon as we find out its architects are dishonourable? By the same token, do I have to like the music of James Blunt because he arguably averted a war between the UK and Russia? Or is the art one thing, and the artist another?
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby zetreque on November 13th, 2017, 2:10 am 

I learned long ago that in order to really enjoy art (be is music, sculpture, painting, movies, etc) I must completely separate art from the artist. This is a case where ignorance is bliss. I therefore try not to read or care about Hollywood tabloids gossip and steer clear of biographies usually. It can be hard to do when I enjoy something so much that I want to know everything about it including the history of the creator. On very rare instances I can love art a lot and learning a remarkable story about how wonderful the artist truly was behind the art gives it even more value to me.

I still often wonder though, can we or should we separate art from the artist? Good art can be interpreted in so many ways. Perhaps it's best left to give the audience a unique imaginary world that stems from the artwork. Something that someone can take away with a new insight or feeling in their lives. Does it matter who the artist is or what crimes the artist has commit?

On the other hand it does matter. If someone created something that was well loved, but the artist was found to be a horrible human being or supportive of something you are deeply against, then supporting the artwork in a way supports the artist which shouldn't be praised.

Another thing to consider however is the time frame maybe. Before the crime was known, if the artwork gave something meaningful and wonderful to the world, that might mean something? It's like claiming ignorance and doesn't seem as bad?

Another thought is that maybe that's a good thing for the term "starving artist." While some artwork can be sold at auction for millions of dollars between owner and buyer, the artist him or herself usually doesn't profit that much (as far as I know) and maybe that is the way it should be. Of course movie stars create art and profit in sometimes ridiculous ways. Maybe this is a case for not allowing artists to profit in big ways from artwork.

This is a sometimes troubling and conflicting concept to deal with in life. As I write this, another example that stands out to me is Micheal Jackson.
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby zetreque on November 13th, 2017, 2:14 am 

To make more clear my current stance that I have held for a long time. I try to see artworks as a completely separate beasts than the artists. Detached from them completely. Art as a creation in a moment of time that has taken on a new life. Perhaps like parents giving birth to a child. While the parents can birth the child and guide it or perhaps influence it, the child ultimately makes a life for itself. Then I can appreciate the artwork despite the crimes or life of the artist which is a lot more complicated than the artwork. I can something against the artwork for something it's parent did.
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby Serpent on November 13th, 2017, 2:15 am 

Lomax » November 13th, 2017, 12:48 am wrote:Is it too much to ask that the creator be good in order for the product to be good? Is it a category error? Or should we bin all this stuff as soon as we find out its architects are dishonourable? By the same token, do I have to like the music of James Blunt because he arguably averted a war between the UK and Russia? Or is the art one thing, and the artist another?

I don't see how one's sexual proclivities - or, for that matter, temper, egotism, alcohol consumption, physical and mental health issues, financial responsibility, or any part of their private life - has any bearing on the product of their labours. A bad husband can still be a good programmer; an unlucky gambler can nevertheless paint a good picture; a disloyal friend can build a sound bridge.
And if you appreciated someone's work when you believed them to be nice, there is no logical reason to depreciate it if/when you discover that they're not nice. Bit like saying Saint Paul's ought to be torn down because Christopher Wren cheated on his Latin exam. Or that Jung's ideas become illegitimate when you hear that Hitler admired him. The two things are not causally linked.
(In some instances, the creative product does give you glimpses into the author's character and feelings. You may be repelled by some kinds of material and you might suspect something not-quite-right. But you can't be expected to guess which part is fiction and which is autobiographical. I've heard Stephen King is a most upstanding man, and good company, but don't know or care whether it's true.)

This rash of late disavowals is a product of celebrity-culture. The athlete or actor becomes an alter-ego to his fans. They take possession of his private and public life - consume him entire - and for that, they feel he owes them an admirable standard of behaviour. In fact, applauded people, very successful people, tend to take on the colouration of celebrity; become spoiled darlings; feel entitled to privileges and more leeway than people with no claim to fame.
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby BadgerJelly on November 13th, 2017, 2:42 am 

Newton was a complete arsehole! We don't go around denying his work though.

Hitler and Marx wrote some pretty interesting things. Bob Marley was part of a bizarre religious ideology. That Shakespeare was anti Jewish is hardly a shocking statement given the era, just like the ridiculous assault in the Southern states of the US on certain statues of generals. I mean Lincoln signed to have native American women and children slaughtered, but do people call for all his monuments to be torn down?

I think it is very dangerous to tear down artifacts that have negatives things associated with them. By doing so we sweep it under the carpet and forget about it, doing nothing more than making it easier for people in society to repeat the very same mistakes and misdemeanors.

Really people like to sweep these things away because they are reminded of their own misgivings. They condemn them and toss them onto the fire so as not to have to look in the mirror and see the demon within. Yeah, a Jungian perspective I know. Just happens to be one I have yet to find fault with and one that remains extremely useful.
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby Braininvat on November 13th, 2017, 11:02 am 

The spoiled darling effect, the sense of entitlement, does seem to be a side effect of celebrity and power. I actually appreciate that Louie owned up to precisely this problem in his life, in his public apology. He cut himself no slack and spoke honestly about what a sh-t he was and what form it took. I also think there are degrees of transgression and that they sometimes get lost in the public uproar. Louie includes a couple of routines that involve fake masturbation in his standup show, so it's not entirely surprising to me that he might get carried away in the presence of an attractive female comedian and stupidly and offensively connect confessional art and real life by showing her his ****. Putting him in the same box of wickedness as paedophiles (an extra "a" for you Brits who love your superfluous letters) might be an overreaction.

(total disclosure: I met, and had a nice chat with, Mr. CK before he was famous, so I have some bias regarding his character.)

I could make a similar observation about Dustin Hoffman making lewd jokes ("I'd like a soft-boiled clitoris") to a production assistant.

These guys were pigs, but they don't rise to the level of, say, Roman Polanski or Harvey Weinstein or Kevin Spacey.

And, as others said, I still value their artistic work on its own merits.
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby Braininvat on November 13th, 2017, 11:11 am 

Really people like to sweep these things away because they are reminded of their own misgivings. They condemn them and toss them onto the fire so as not to have to look in the mirror and see the demon within. Yeah, a Jungian perspective I know. Just happens to be one I have yet to find fault with and one that remains extremely useful.



Who among us doesn't contain an archetypal groper? Have any males, visual creatures that we are, not looked upon an attractive @ss and thought about grabbing it? Perhaps we made the choice not to do so, but would we have made that same choice if we had more power and a following of people telling us how great we are? I think men often make the unwarranted leap that, if others give them elevated status, their sexual attractiveness soars beyond all mortal limits and every shapely @ss is now yearning to be grabbed.

A cultural correction to this delusional state now seems to be in progress.
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby Serpent on November 13th, 2017, 11:22 am 

BadgerJelly » November 13th, 2017, 1:42 am wrote: just like the ridiculous assault in the Southern states of the US on certain statues of generals. I mean Lincoln signed to have native American women and children slaughtered, but do people call for all his monuments to be torn down?


Please don't include this in the same category. Those monuments, and the objection to them, are not based on the character of the subjects, nor their accomplishments, nor the virtue of the artists - and certainly not on the merits of the art itself. That's a social/political issue which belongs elsewhere.
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby Serpent on November 13th, 2017, 11:29 am 

Braininvat » November 13th, 2017, 10:11 am wrote: I think men often make the unwarranted leap that, if others give them elevated status, their sexual attractiveness soars beyond all mortal limits and every shapely @ss is now yearning to be grabbed.

A cultural correction to this delusional state now seems to be in progress.


Watch for backlash, coming to your neighbourhood right-wing broadcast media. I predict it begins with diatribes against 'political correctness' by the usual talking... what's the opposite of heads again? and escalates to a fresh wave of persecution against women and gays.
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby BadgerJelly on November 13th, 2017, 12:32 pm 

Serpent » November 13th, 2017, 11:22 pm wrote:
BadgerJelly » November 13th, 2017, 1:42 am wrote: just like the ridiculous assault in the Southern states of the US on certain statues of generals. I mean Lincoln signed to have native American women and children slaughtered, but do people call for all his monuments to be torn down?


Please don't include this in the same category. Those monuments, and the objection to them, are not based on the character of the subjects, nor their accomplishments, nor the virtue of the artists - and certainly not on the merits of the art itself. That's a social/political issue which belongs elsewhere.


I think that's a ridiculous statement. How is politics/society disconnected from art.
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby zetreque on November 13th, 2017, 12:35 pm 

BadgerJelly » Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:32 am wrote:
Serpent » November 13th, 2017, 11:22 pm wrote:
BadgerJelly » November 13th, 2017, 1:42 am wrote: just like the ridiculous assault in the Southern states of the US on certain statues of generals. I mean Lincoln signed to have native American women and children slaughtered, but do people call for all his monuments to be torn down?


Please don't include this in the same category. Those monuments, and the objection to them, are not based on the character of the subjects, nor their accomplishments, nor the virtue of the artists - and certainly not on the merits of the art itself. That's a social/political issue which belongs elsewhere.


I think that's a ridiculous statement. How is politics/society disconnected from art.


Well one major difference here is that the statues were not created by the generals (or were they?) Another point is that even if they were created by the generals they are now taking on a life of their own to be torn down by the audience.
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby Lomax on November 13th, 2017, 1:02 pm 

Thoughtful and persuasive responses, all.

Braininvat » November 13th, 2017, 4:02 pm wrote:The spoiled darling effect, the sense of entitlement, does seem to be a side effect of celebrity and power.

I am reminded of John Updike:

Celebrity is a mask that eats into the face. As soon as one is aware of being "somebody", to be watched and listened to with extra interest, input ceases, and the performer goes blind and deaf in his over-animation. One can either see or be seen.

I have no doubt that being surrounded by "yes-men" clouds one's judgement; I can see it in former bosses. Louis CK claims that at the time of his misbehaviour he had a tendency to misread situations, and that may be true. Donald Trump may genuinely think any woman he sees is happy for him to "grab her by the pussy". Such men, lacking in empathy and awareness of themselves and others, are almost as pitiable as their victims. It can't be easy not knowing what's invited and what's not, what's flirtation and what's harrassment. As you suggest, the shift in the zeitgeist might push such men to pay more attention to the clues, or otherwise not give themselves the benefit of the doubt.

Either way, Trump's lack of empathy has to be seen as a problem when he's the "leader of the free world". Which recalls something said by Zoller Seitz, linked in the OP. Is this question dependent on the person's specific job? Louis CK's job undoubtedly rests on a kind of direct rapport between speaker and audience, and an indulgence in his charm. I went back and listened to a couple of his shows: I still find them funny, but now creepy too. Perhaps in time one sentiment will usurp the other. To my relief, I can enjoy Russell Brand's old podcasts once again, without getting hung up on his naive and influential political espousements. He is relevant twice here - Zoller Seitz argues that CK, by denying for years his behaviour, has undermined the compulsively honest brand of comedy which he has helped to make the standard of the age. But CK would often, halfway through a story, interrupt himself to say "it doesn't matter because I'm making it up". Brand seems like a better example of someone who tries to put everything on the line, including his crimes and scandals. And of course we have Pryor before him. But the reporter makes the distinction that CK would discuss his dark thoughts, not just his actual experiences. Well, so we thought.

Braininvat » November 13th, 2017, 4:02 pm wrote:He cut himself no slack and spoke honestly about what a sh-t he was and what form it took.

I'm in two hearts about his apology. On the one hand, he doesn't (as so many do) try to smear his victims, or (any longer) to deny the allegations. It takes responsibility. On the other hand, it's not strictly an apology. He doesn't say sorry or even "I apologise", but rather tries to explain himself. He does spend some space trying to clarify why his behaviour was wrong, either to prevent his fans from being overly defensive, or to show that he understands. But does he understand? He thinks the problem is that the women admired him, not that there was a power differential. (Incidentally, when I ran a cocktail bar I asked a subordinate on a date. It took her two days to decide, and when she did, she seemed very nervous. At the time I assumed that she was nervous about my feelings, and that her indecision was based on ambivalent feelings about me, or a desire to word it just right. Reading about this has forced me to wonder whether she feared professional retaliation from me, and whether, therefore, I have done something wrong.) He also uses the word "díck" for penis, which may be a desire to avoid euphemism, or it may betray a lack of real seriousness and maturity about the issue.

I really began to feel like I was reading an absurdist tale when I discovered that Louis CK has been dropped by his publicist, Lewis E. Kay.

Braininvat » November 13th, 2017, 4:02 pm wrote:I also think there are degrees of transgression and that they sometimes get lost in the public uproar. Louie includes a couple of routines that involve fake masturbation in his standup show, so it's not entirely surprising to me that he might get carried away in the presence of an attractive female comedian and stupidly and offensively connect confessional art and real life by showing her his ****. Putting him in the same box of wickedness as paedophiles (an extra "a" for you Brits who love your superfluous letters) might be an overreaction.

Oh, I don't mean to suggest that all my examples were morally equivalent. Even within each category, they are not morally equivalent. Wagner wished for the elimination of the members of the Jewish race. Bakunin would have settled for the elimination of the Jewish culture, rather than its erstwhile practitioners. Shakespeare and Marx thought that the Jews were creeps and usurers, but more importantly, human. Roald Dahl risked his life to fight against the Nazis. But the proposition under debate is the same in all cases - do the producer's life and mind contaminate the product?
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby Lomax on November 13th, 2017, 1:08 pm 

Serpent » November 13th, 2017, 4:29 pm wrote:
Braininvat » November 13th, 2017, 10:11 am wrote: I think men often make the unwarranted leap that, if others give them elevated status, their sexual attractiveness soars beyond all mortal limits and every shapely @ss is now yearning to be grabbed.

A cultural correction to this delusional state now seems to be in progress.


Watch for backlash, coming to your neighbourhood right-wing broadcast media. I predict it begins with diatribes against 'political correctness' by the usual talking... what's the opposite of heads again? and escalates to a fresh wave of persecution against women and gays.

Remarkable that, in the wake of Donald Trump and Roy Moore, the prurient Right wing are suddenly so eager to make excuses for sex pests. During the Clinton era, that was the job of the American Left. Perhaps everybody sees this stuff as more complex than it's usually prudent to admit.
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby Braininvat on November 13th, 2017, 1:34 pm 

I agree Louie's statement falls short of a full apology, though that appears to be what is intended. IIRC, he does indicate awareness of the power differential, but puts it too much in terms of how "admired" he is. Clearly, the artist's ego tends to be robust. In terms of the thread, you remind us that it's about the level of contamination of the artist's work, and in this regard, Louie would really be the most radioactive. Some of this creepiness is that his work is confessional and thus already puts us in uncomfortable proximity to the artist - some of his humor has made me wince and laugh simultaneously. So it doesn't help to see him fall into transgressions that we were already skirting dangerously around just by following his narratives.

That's a great quote from Updike. I am glad people still read him. AFAIK, he has been, in his personal life, a thoroughly decent human being. It may help that he has generally avoided interviews and public appearances and generally going into celebrity mode. As a writer, he would rightly fear going deaf and blind in the limelight.
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby Lomax on November 13th, 2017, 1:56 pm 

The worst I know of Updike is that he was a supporter of the Vietnam War, and that he wrote Rabbit, Run as a riposte to On the Road, which he hadn't read. Well perhaps if he had read and understood it, he wouldn't have felt the need to reply, and we'd have missed a masterpiece. And who's perfect, anyway? What exactly is the journalist (and the many others like him; the "critical theory" movement Harold Bloom deplores so much) asking of the artist? Moral purity? Such nauseating stuff is probably better left to Saint Peter; it's not for me.
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby Serpent on November 13th, 2017, 3:23 pm 

BadgerJelly » November 13th, 2017, 11:32 am wrote: [Those monuments, and the objection to them, are not based on the character of the subjects, nor their accomplishments, nor the virtue of the artists - and certainly not on the merits of the art itself. That's a social/political issue which belongs elsewhere.]

I think that's a ridiculous statement. How is politics/society disconnected from art.

The controversy is political. Sometimes there is no art involved at all. It's about Civil War monuments: Confederate flags, or plaques, bad statues, bas-reliefs, good statues - whatever. It doesn't matter who made them. The artist's other works are not under consideration, nor his moral character, nor his public conduct. It's not about art, in any way.
The point at issue is that they are in-your-face repudiations of history. You have a triumphant Lee astride his noble steed - not a defeated Lee with his sword broken, surrounded by dead and wounded soldiers. This statue and hundreds of monuments all over the South are symbols of Dixie-will-rise-again defiance. The slaves who were supposedly freed, but in fact continued to suffer oppression and abuse for another century, have had to live with those symbols, paid for with their own taxes, prominently displayed in their public parks and seats of government. They get fed up? Well, geez, I wonder why.
Hardly anybody's even asking for them to be destroyed or torn down - just to be removed to a location where the offended citizens don't have to look at it. Most of the city (I don't know about state) governments would be agreeable to that solution. It's only the the alt-right that insists on defending them.

That's why it doesn't belong to this discussion.
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby Sivad on November 13th, 2017, 4:48 pm 

Lomax » November 13th, 2017, 10:56 am wrote: And who's perfect, anyway? What exactly is the journalist (and the many others like him; the "critical theory" movement Harold Bloom deplores so much) asking of the artist? Moral purity? Such nauseating stuff is probably better left to Saint Peter; it's not for me.


https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/10/31/the-last-british-empire-paedophile-morality-art-and-donald-friend/
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby BadgerJelly on November 14th, 2017, 2:02 am 

Lomax -

I don't wish to push this into realms of sexism, but I think this is a reflection of many dynamic changes in society:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udWNkPhffUQ

Also, I was reading more Orwell the other day and his comments about Dali. Again, I find no issue with admiring the work of Dali even though he, by Orwell's description, was a vicious and seriously unhinged individual, a dangerous human being.

I really like Brand too. He has a very peculiar kind of honesty about him and openness. He is also quite obviously charismatic and his lexicon and oratory ability is simply astounding. Glad he is shifting his focus toward more serious matters, even though I do find some things he says too soft and a little naïve at times (but hard to say.)

In reference to the above clip, I find Camille touches on something about western society in general. There seems to be a calling for everyone to be protected and shielded from "evils". I think this is more dangerous than simply facing the danger because if you face it (instead of subduing it) you are aware.

It is also very confusing from a biological perspective given that women are attracted to powerful men, and these powerful men tend to be more driven and more engaged with fulfilling their life's desires. I am not condoning such acts and the best I can hope for is reasonable discussion on this subject rather than continual slander for the sake of news.

I don't think society will change over night, but we can see that things have come a long way over the past century, the past 50 years, and even the past couple of decades. Societal equality is shifting in many ways regarding "gender", "sexual attitudes", "religious views", "ethnicity" and general "political stances". I think there is something to be said for understanding ourselves as animals trying to live together rather than as humans trying not to be animals.

Psychologically I don't think we can help associate people with their actions. I have always had the impression in the US that they tend to build up their heroes more than in the UK (this may be completely untrue, but it is perhaps a common myth that my generation are familiar with at least), this is something comedians actually talk about too, in regards to the comedic figure in the US and in the UK. (pretty sure CK, Seinfeld and Gervais discussed this, also Stephen Fry mentions it too somewhere - interesting stuff!) ... anyway, the "myth" is that in the UK we tear down successful people whilst in the US people revere them (generally speaking.) To be honest I think it's a very sweeping statement, but I also believe there is some truth to it even though I am not entirely sure why it is like this - the easiest direction would be to point toward capitalism, but I find that's merely one element of the whole situation.

I think it is interesting that Camille mentions class/social status because when we're thrown into a room with someone who is in a different "strata" of society we may act differently without meaning too whilst to them it is just "normal", they see the distinction far less. This is part and parcel of the reason I say I am some kind of "anarchist" (I am on guard against any claim of authority, be it personal, or within different "strata" of society.) It is here I would say that we disassociate "art" from the person, or even there 'work' in general (hence my mention of Newton), but when we're brought face to face with some attached "badness" we cannot help but reflect the blemish of the person onto their 'work'. Comedy is especially peculiar because it deals with themes that push social boundaries and actively voices difficult topics saying things we far too fearful to discuss with strangers in the street. The 'shock' value of comedy is what makes it funny, and its raw commentary on society and our reconciliation to the harshness of reality is what makes us laugh. Laughter is very much entwined with our confusion, with our foolish nature and how easily misled we are.

I think in this respect Comedy is a very unique art form and one that beats close to the heart of society. It interacts most closely with people in their day-to-day lives, because it is a "conversation", not like a melody or a song which is quite obviously a different kind of activity that we partake in only on special occasions.

Thanks for making think about this! Let me see if I can find the vids:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKY6BGcx37k

I think I'll watch this now and see if anything stick out.
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby wolfhnd on November 14th, 2017, 4:42 am 

There are many forms of abuse. Wives torment their husbands with nagging. Husband's abuse their wives by ignoring them. Mothers over mother their children to keep them dependent "infantile" beings. High school kids notoriously form groups that torment "losers".

Taking pleasure in inflicting physical or emotional pain is not a characteristic of any subset of the human race but appears fairly universal.

It isn't surprising that occasionally or commonly, depending on the intensity and form, that sex is the medium through which pain is inflicted for pleasure or relief.

For whatever evolutionary reason humans are hyper sexual. Unlike most mammals humans are always sexually active. There are non human examples such as Bonobo but even there the link to aggressive behavior is present if only as a moderation mechanism.

If you combine the tendency of humans to attempt to transfer emotional pain or even simple irritability to other people it is only social conditioning, being civilized, that keeps sexual abuse in check.

We may think we are more sophisticated than previous generations but the concept of being a gentleman could be useful to revive. Suppressing male "toxicity" is likely to have unforeseen negative consequences. At the very least denial of human sexual dimorphism is intellectually dishonest.

Our society has become very confused and disoriented. While group rights have been increasingly protected including sexual proclivities outside the norm it seems that this openness has had little effect on reducing undesirable sexual behavior. Old fashion virtues such as chastity existed because of social evolution as the best compromise between desire and obligation. If sexual satisfaction was easy to obtain the instinct would not have the nuance to effectively modify behavior. If it is nuanced it is complex enough to be easily distorted by biological and environmental factors.

Question like this do not have answers because they are infinitely regressive. Some approximations are better than others however.
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby wolfhnd on November 14th, 2017, 5:12 am 

It would be fair to ask where are the benefits of the sexual revolution. It certainly is the case that "Victorian" values were out of touch with "human nature". It is however becoming clear that current paradigm is equally dysfunction. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Certainly many of the people involved in the current scandals are of a generation that should have benefited from the sexual revolution. Unfortunately what we have is what you would expect from a youth culture. It is representative of a lack of experience.

The philosophies of the 60 are as sophomoric as you would expect from a generation that by virtue of demographics gained power before maturity. The effect is compounded by the loss of faith in Western Civilization that two World wars, the failure of communism in the 20s, and capitalism in the 30s had on their parents. The retreat into simple pleasures and abandonment of ideological preferences that characterized the post war years left a vacuum for poorly formed and intellectually shallow ideology to fill. It is best understood in the popularity of post modernism and neo Marxism at our universities and the children born after WWII.

The last factor that influences the pervasiveness of undesirable sexual perversions is elitism. The breakdown in community that resulted from the segregation by intellectual ability in recent decades. While the upper middle class could weather the storm produced by the loss of traditional values the less affluent lack the material resources to do so and the state has proven a poor substitute parent. When people of various social classes live together there is more pressure for equal moral codes. Combine with identity politics and the social atmosphere has become toxic.

When the left abandoned working class values the moral social fabric took a heavy blow.
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby Braininvat on November 14th, 2017, 11:22 am 

A-r-t forum.
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby Serpent on November 14th, 2017, 12:22 pm 

I find this post interesting and several of the observations valuable. I'll just engage the points I know something about.

wolfhnd » November 14th, 2017, 4:12 am wrote:It would be fair to ask where are the benefits of the sexual revolution.

Here I am! Long-time happily bonded, benign, unpersecuted, not forced into someone else's notion of what's proper - and completely unremarkable, like most of my cohort. You don't hear much about ordinary people - but walk around a shopping mall sometime, and see how many couples in their 70's go about holding hands, laughing together, conversing, sharing, being affectionate and solicitous.

It certainly is the case that "Victorian" values were out of touch with "human nature". It is however becoming clear that current paradigm is equally dysfunction.

Not so different. The Victorians were also hypocrites. Over-privileged men had mistresses and frequented bordellos; groped, seduced, raped and impregnated the household help; if they had deviant proclivities, they could indulge those, too, for a fee - just like now. Underprivileged men might beat their wives, assault unprotected young women and abandon their families - just like now. The people holding up social values were burghers, the lower middle class and the respectable working class - as they always do, in every society, every culture, every age.
Most people then, like most people now, lived unremarkable, more or less difficult lives. If they're lucky and decent, they find a complaisant life-mate; if they're unlucky or nasty, they have lonely, discontented lives.

Certainly many of the people involved in the current scandals are of a generation that should have benefited from the sexual revolution. Unfortunately what we have is what you would expect from a youth culture. It is representative of a lack of experience.

It's nothing to do with generations or youth-culture - though American men are encouraged to remain forever adolescent, most of them don't. Overprivileged men behave exactly the same way now as they did in 19th century England or 2nd century Rome or 2000BC Assyria. Overprivileged women can do the same now, as then - but most of them don't.

The philosophies of the 60 are as sophomoric as you would expect from a generation that by virtue of demographics gained power before maturity.

I don't recall having any power. We got our heads bashed in and pepper-sprayed less than people who try to protest now, because police had some restraint back then and civil liberties had some reality.
Most of us, most of the time, went to school, went to work (starting with paper-routes at age 10... We may have been the most productive generation, ever, since we didn't have so many of our lives, health and youth wasted on wars.) We partied on the weekend, drank and smoked, danced and - yes, enjoyed uninhibited couplings; a minority indulged in illegal substances. That's not so different from the 20's and 30's and 90's.
Then we grew up, received our degrees, licenses or certificates, paired off, married, procreated and faded into the background, never to be heard of again, except as targets of marketing campaign and scapegoats for whatever goes bad.
I don't think there is a political lesson here. I don't think ideology has any part in it. (I'm leaving those comments aside.) This is simply a numerically large demographic, in an era of rapid technological change and relatively long period of prosperity. Fortunate, yes. Frivolous - no.
There is a higher rate of divorce - partly because the religious strictures have been loosened, so that people are not trapped in miserable situations for life, partly because a wave of enlightenment has liberated women from silent bondage (you can count that as ideology, I suppose), partly because the wide range of education and employment opportunity made independence possible. For a few decades.
On the other hand, the recently introduced values of regard for children and the elderly, for the disabled and oppressed, for people of colour and other cultures, for people's private lives and autonomy, are worth keeping. At least, I still believe in those values, long after leaving the hedonistic 60's behind.

I've benefited, without abusing my good fortune. I believe I've also contributed. So have most of my generation.

PS We also created made a lot of art. Probably too much; there's a glut now.
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby BadgerJelly on November 14th, 2017, 12:50 pm 

Lomax -

This is the Fry clip I was thinking of:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8k2AbqTBxao
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby Lomax on November 14th, 2017, 1:07 pm 

Well I think you probably have to be North American to think that intellectual elitism is a new thing. The rest of the world has evolved, or is evolving, out of millennia of feudalism and squalor. The vast majority of my fellow Brits could not read until one or two centuries ago. Even today, people worldwide struggle to read the question before they answer.
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby Serpent on November 14th, 2017, 2:29 pm 

Lomax » November 14th, 2017, 12:07 pm wrote:Well I think you probably have to be North American to think that intellectual elitism is a new thing. The rest of the world has evolved, or is evolving, out of millennia of feudalism and squalor. The vast majority of my fellow Brits could not read until one or two centuries ago. Even today, people worldwide struggle to read the question before they answer.

Then I suppose Oscar Wilde will no longer pose a problem of personal life vs. art, and there will certainly be no trouble from that flaming red Fabian, H.G. Wells.
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby Braininvat on November 14th, 2017, 2:44 pm 

Really, I would think that having a transgressive act or acts in one's past would add to the credibility of many artists who plumb the depths of the human heart and its sometimes intense internal conflicts with the demands of society. I don't have time ATM to develop this idea, but I think examples would be obvious. A war novel by someone who did brutal things as a soldier, say.
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby Serpent on November 14th, 2017, 4:05 pm 

D.H. - and for that matter, T.E. - Lawrence, Voltaire, Celine.... Yes, I should think so.
But people don't seem to mind the trespasses, excesses and peccadillos of dead authors. I'm not sure how long the work has to outlive the man to divested itself of his reputation. Perhaps it's partly a matter of changing mores: it was okay to be racist and sexist in the 19th century, but not homosexual or pacifist.

Acting and comedy are ephemeral; more personality-dependent than other art forms. Thanks to broadcast media, they also have a physical - visual, immediate, intimate - presence in our consciousness. Maybe that's why we're so intensely engaged with the private conduct of performing artists, as well as athletes - who are, after all, performers.
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby wolfhnd on November 14th, 2017, 4:14 pm 

Lomax » Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:07 pm wrote:Well I think you probably have to be North American to think that intellectual elitism is a new thing. The rest of the world has evolved, or is evolving, out of millennia of feudalism and squalor. The vast majority of my fellow Brits could not read until one or two centuries ago. Even today, people worldwide struggle to read the question before they answer.


It's not the elitism itself but the vast expansion into the middle class and the resulting segregation. It isn't just physical segregation but a disconnect between the middle class and the practical.
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby wolfhnd on November 14th, 2017, 4:33 pm 

Serpent » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:22 pm wrote:I find this post interesting and several of the observations valuable. I'll just engage the points I know something about.

wolfhnd » November 14th, 2017, 4:12 am wrote:It would be fair to ask where are the benefits of the sexual revolution.

Here I am! Long-time happily bonded, benign, unpersecuted, not forced into someone else's notion of what's proper - and completely unremarkable, like most of my cohort. You don't hear much about ordinary people - but walk around a shopping mall sometime, and see how many couples in their 70's go about holding hands, laughing together, conversing, sharing, being affectionate and solicitous.

It certainly is the case that "Victorian" values were out of touch with "human nature". It is however becoming clear that current paradigm is equally dysfunction.

Not so different. The Victorians were also hypocrites. Over-privileged men had mistresses and frequented bordellos; groped, seduced, raped and impregnated the household help; if they had deviant proclivities, they could indulge those, too, for a fee - just like now. Underprivileged men might beat their wives, assault unprotected young women and abandon their families - just like now. The people holding up social values were burghers, the lower middle class and the respectable working class - as they always do, in every society, every culture, every age.
Most people then, like most people now, lived unremarkable, more or less difficult lives. If they're lucky and decent, they find a complaisant life-mate; if they're unlucky or nasty, they have lonely, discontented lives.

Certainly many of the people involved in the current scandals are of a generation that should have benefited from the sexual revolution. Unfortunately what we have is what you would expect from a youth culture. It is representative of a lack of experience.

It's nothing to do with generations or youth-culture - though American men are encouraged to remain forever adolescent, most of them don't. Overprivileged men behave exactly the same way now as they did in 19th century England or 2nd century Rome or 2000BC Assyria. Overprivileged women can do the same now, as then - but most of them don't.

The philosophies of the 60 are as sophomoric as you would expect from a generation that by virtue of demographics gained power before maturity.

I don't recall having any power. We got our heads bashed in and pepper-sprayed less than people who try to protest now, because police had some restraint back then and civil liberties had some reality.
Most of us, most of the time, went to school, went to work (starting with paper-routes at age 10... We may have been the most productive generation, ever, since we didn't have so many of our lives, health and youth wasted on wars.) We partied on the weekend, drank and smoked, danced and - yes, enjoyed uninhibited couplings; a minority indulged in illegal substances. That's not so different from the 20's and 30's and 90's.
Then we grew up, received our degrees, licenses or certificates, paired off, married, procreated and faded into the background, never to be heard of again, except as targets of marketing campaign and scapegoats for whatever goes bad.
I don't think there is a political lesson here. I don't think ideology has any part in it. (I'm leaving those comments aside.) This is simply a numerically large demographic, in an era of rapid technological change and relatively long period of prosperity. Fortunate, yes. Frivolous - no.
There is a higher rate of divorce - partly because the religious strictures have been loosened, so that people are not trapped in miserable situations for life, partly because a wave of enlightenment has liberated women from silent bondage (you can count that as ideology, I suppose), partly because the wide range of education and employment opportunity made independence possible. For a few decades.
On the other hand, the recently introduced values of regard for children and the elderly, for the disabled and oppressed, for people of colour and other cultures, for people's private lives and autonomy, are worth keeping. At least, I still believe in those values, long after leaving the hedonistic 60's behind.

I've benefited, without abusing my good fortune. I believe I've also contributed. So have most of my generation.

PS We also created made a lot of art. Probably too much; there's a glut now.


Not that much different from previous generations but the devil is in the details. Certainly the roaring 20s were at least in part a reaction to the horrors of war as we're the calls for social reform. The 50s however represents a withdrawal from engagement because increasing affluence allowed the suburban life style as an antidote for the cultural malaise. The next generation would react by rejecting the withdrawal and confronting the issues that had been ignored. Social activism by the youth in previous generations had also been restrained by the necessity of hard work and their smaller representation in the population.
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Re: The Naughty and the Nice

Postby wolfhnd on November 14th, 2017, 4:43 pm 

Artist are likely to have openness as their dominant personality trait and therefore somewhat lacking in conscientiousness. Chaos and deviant lifestyles go hand in hand. Nothing new about that as artists throughout history have been unconventional and inclined to abuse social mores.

The question I tried to raise is why the sexual revolution has not had any effect in reducing undesirable sexual proclivities. Freedom it seems is not an antidote to perversions.
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