Directors make serious mistakes in their personal lives and all of a sudden we boycot their artistic output, shows get cancelled, films projects are scrapped, etc.
It’s ok that for the time being no sane person wants to continue cooperating with people who have been accused of grieveous mistakes, at least until a period of genuine atonement has passed, until there’s been an appropriate ‘reckoning’.
But do we need to boycot their artistic output? Assuming it doesn’t incite people to repeat their mistakes, I don’t see why we would do that.
And if we do this with the offending celebrities of today, then what about dead sinning creatives?
Let me just name one example that I happen to feel some affinity with.
I grew up in a house literally 1 km away from the house of the widow of the legendary Belgian writer Louis Paul Boon. He came close to winning a Nobel prize at one point.
As a child I was an instant fan, apparently on the rare occasions I still write in Dutch, some friends compare my language to his. It doesn’t buy me anything, but I tend to take it as a compliment.
I also know one of his rape victims personally. A deeply sensitive, highly intelligent lady who lives in Aalst, who’s struggled all her life to piece herself together. She was raped by Boon when she was 14 years old. The man used to stand around near an all girls school at closing time to stare at the teenage girls in their uniforms.
Am I never going to read one of his books now? Is his artistic output worthless now?
What Boon did was a crime. He was known as ‘sleazy’, but it went further than that, way further, too far, in at least one case. I’m entirely convinced this lady was raped by Boon. It was her husband who told me and I have absolutely no reason to doubt his story.
He said: ‘Boon wrote some amazing literature, but what he did to my wife was catastrophic.’
In 2012 the city of Aalst dedicated an entire year to this man and his artistic legacy.
I condemn what Bart De Pauw did, and he deserves some form of sanction, I also think he didn’t handle the situation diplomatically or respectfully by hiring communication experts to be the first to broadcast the news. I also recognize a bit of myself in the man, and I try to understand where his behavior is coming from, and most of all his victims need to be reassured that they are safe and did the right thing by reporting his behavior.
At the same time I have started watching his breakthrough show Buiten De Zone again. And I still think it’s absolutely brilliant.