When childhood heroes do bad things, can we still appreciate their work?

When childhood heroes do bad things, can we still appreciate their work?
By Zan Azlee

BILL COSBY was a hero of mine. I grew up with his comedy and was hooked on his early children’s shows, Fat Albert and The Cosby Kids, which I used to watch at my grandparents’ house when I was a little kid in the early 1980s.

As I grew up, I enjoyed his other TV programmes like The Cosby Show and Cosby. Of course, I was a huge fan of his stand-up comedy performances as well. And I have to admit, I do a very impressive impression of him, if I do say so myself.

Then, a few years ago, the world was shocked after several women came out claiming that Cosby had either raped or sexually abused them. This devastated me. Cosby has denied all the allegations and is now still fighting it in court.

More recent, the world has been shaken again after the revelation of the indecency that is Harvey Weinstein. The principal of The Weinstein Company has been accused of sexually harassing and even raping women in his position as one of Hollywood’s most influential people.

Right after that, a slew of other celebrities was also outed and the list of names are yet again very shocking. A-listers such as Kevin Spacey, Charlie Rose and Louis C.K. have all found themselves having to apologise for their indecent actions.

These people have been revered and respected because of the good quality work they do. Spacey is a brilliant Oscar-winning actor, Rose is a well-known journalist and interviewer, while Louis CK is a comedy genius who constantly innovates his style of humour.

Many of these individuals have had long careers and are so much a part of society and popular culture. Hence, when we have a world that has been so prominently exposed to these people’s work, the betrayal and disbelief can get pretty intense.

Just as I was shocked by the revelations about Cosby, I was similarly dismayed to hear about Louis CK, whose work has really inspired my own work. The man is a genius when it comes to comedy and content creation.

This brings me to the conflict I have right now. Is it at all a possibility to detach the artist from his art? What Louis C.K. did was unforgivable and wrong and I am not at all trying to justify what he did or to put it off lightly. But how does that affect his work?

For most of those who have been accused, their shows and projects have been pulled from the media and shelved indefinitely. Basically, nobody wants to be associated with them at all because of how angry society is.

Louis C.K. suffered the same and his new projects have been halted while all of his previous content has been taken off by broadcasters and distributors. I guess he is now having to pay for his actions.

But is it fair the audience is denied access to his work? We have to admit that his work has nothing to do with his accused (and admitted) actions. But the actions are just so horrendous that would we be considered to be endorsing them if we support his work?

The conflict in me also lies in the fact that Louis C.K.’s actions have produced victims. And would it be fair to the victims if his work, and ultimately, he himself, continues to be revered? It’s hard and one thing I do wish is that Louis C.K. and Bill Cosby never did what they did.

Unfortunately, hindsight is just hindsight. However, I do agree that this is a good step because at least these revelations have caused the world to open their eyes. Now that the issue is out and being discussed in public, let’s hope that society learns and progresses.

[This article was originally written for and published at AsianCorrespondent.com]

Get Zan Azlee’s latest book ‘JOURNO-DAD: The chronicles of a journalist who just happens to be a dad!‘ today!


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