Artist over artistry?
The question came to me after finally — yes, finally! — hearing actor Will Smith address the slap heard around the world.
Who can forget that cringeworthy moment at last year’s Oscar ceremony when Smith bounded up on stage, after a tactless joke by Chris Rock (about Jada Pinkett Smith), hauled off and slugged him? It left most of us shocked, bewildered and waiting for an answer.
While there were a few tweets here and there, there was nothing really substantial until Smith appeared one-on-one with television host Trevor Noah recently.
It left me completely nonplussed. I needed and wanted a lot more.
I still don’t understand what exactly sent Smith off the deep end. He suggests it brought back memories of his father beating his mother.
“That was a rage that had been building a really long time," Smith has said.
While horrible and clearly a painful memory, I don’t really see the connection to a joke told by a fellow comedian at an awards ceremony. Why pick that moment, in front of a billion spectactors, to flip out? The reaction didn’t fit the crime, as it were.
Smith’s explanations seemed straight out of a public relations department handbook:
1. Seem remorseful.
2. Get emotional.
3. Ask for forgiveness.
4. Plug your new movie.
Call me ”jaded,” but I think his reaction had way more to do with something going on with his wife Jada than a childhood hurt. There’s something going on in that marriage.
The timing is also interesting as he has a new movie coming out called Emancipation.
Is it a true mea culpa, or is it convenient? It got me thinking about what defines a deal-breaker between artist and artistry.
In other words, does what you know or think you know about a public figure determine if you support their work?
If I was a true fan, I suppose this misstep wouldn’t keep me from seeing a movie Smith was in.
The fact I am not a real admirer makes it easy to not bother.
The decision becomes way easier with someone like Bill Cosby. You can search up his alleged indiscretions. I never want to see The Cosby Show or a Jell-O commercial again.
Kanye West and his praise of Hitler? Good riddance!
On the other hand, I remember when Charlie Sheen of Two and a Half Men was off the rails with his drugged-out and drunken rants. I always found him likeable and charming, and I really wanted him to get his act together.
Women, too. I no longer enjoy the work of Felicity Huffman or Lori Loughlin of the U.S. college cheating scandal.
So, I can accept more if I like them? Should that matter?
Hypocritical. Yes, I believe it is. It is also likely human nature.
It seems to me if we feel a connection to a person or really enjoy their work, we can look away. We can be less judgmental. We would give them a second chance.
Should I be able to overlook a person’s mistakes and still enjoy their talent?
There’s no lack of celebrities behaving badly, so I guess it’s a personal choice of what or how much you can overlook for the sake of entertainment.
No doubt, the public will eventually forgive Will Smith and go on to support his career.
One bad decision shouldn’t cancel him, but I’m going to go ahead and cancel any future fan club membership.