Like Mike?

Jun 26, 2009 at 2:31 pm

Michael Jackson's dead — what more can we say? The response to Jackson's death has made me revisit a long-running question that's rolled around my squishy mind for a few years now: Is it possible to separate an artist's personality and deeds from his or her creative work?—-

In other words, does Michael Jackson's strange conduct over the years, which has ranged from completely bizarre to (allegedly?) downright deplorable, take away from the body of music he left behind? Does MJ's — or any artist's — personal life affect how you view his artistic contribution? Can you despise the artist yet love the art?

Looking at some responses from people on Facebook and Twitter, it's seems pretty split. Some people seem downright crushed. (Speaking of which, did Keith Olbermann actually cry when doing Jackson's death coverage? Maybe he just had something in his throat.) Some said, paraphrasing, "Good riddance, he was a pedophile."

People have said that John Lennon was a dick. Greg Dulli lore has caused a good deal of people to despise him locally. While no one ever called him one, Pablo Picasso was most certainly a total asshole. Does it matter? Rimbaud, Pollack, Polanski, Spector, Arbuckle, Orson Wells, R Kelly, KISS: Do their contributions to culture get diminished when their private lives or sour personalities get more attention than their art?

If it turned out that Hitler was a master painter, could you enjoy a Hitler painting withtout thinking, "Yuck, this is a Hitler painting"?