Separating Art the Artist: Mel Gibson, Lindsay Lohan and Roman Polanksi
Let’s face it, these have been a rough few weeks for some of Hollywood’s most notorious personalities. In tabloid shockers that have bled over into mainstream news (not just the fluff stuff, but the real, honest-to-God news agencies as well), three of the most disliked public figures ended up front and center, competing for space on the home page of TMZ. Of course I’m talking about Lindsay Lohan, Mel Gibson and Roman Polanski. In three consecutive stunners, Lindsay went to jail, Roman didn’t and tapes of Mel surfaced, proving long-held accusations of racism and a temper that could blister paint off of a wall. And, as expected, a number of outlets lined up to take their potshots.
But the question is this: Does this mean we can’t watch their movies anymore?
I’ve loved Mel Gibson a long time. A great actor and a brilliant director, the man has made more good movies than bad. And his next project, a Viking film in its original Nordic language, sounds pretty epic. But will anyone want to see it, especially after hearing the seemingly endless stream of recordings flowing out into the public? Will the movie be able to get any distribution at all? And what of the public backlash if they do? Despite being from a self-described Christian nation, the last thing the general public wants to do is forgive a public personality. I’ve seen more people fold their arms and turn their noses up at Mel Gibson’s film with a snide “Not after what he did,” based upon a single written report from an LAPD police officer (an organization noted for its honesty, kindness and restraint). What’s going to happen now that we’ve all heard the rants?
Which leads me to wonder: Where do we get off? I refuse to defend any of these people. They’ve all done despicable things, but the reaction to the tabloid nature of the events creates a new, radically different self-righteous shift in the online environment. Earlier this year I wrote a review of Polanski’s Ghost Writer, a brilliantly constructed thriller. I opened the piece with 400 words on the nature of art versus the artist, stating quite clearly that I am no fan of Polanski the man, but that as a critic it was my job to judge him by his work, not his deeds. Regardless, I received dozens of e-mails and hundreds of damning comments overflowing with righteous indignation, calling me all manner of names for “supporting” such an evil and foul man. One particularly foul writer from the UK – a man younger even than the event itself and a strong critic of the country whose laws Polanski fled – howled obscenities for days through online forums over my “defense” of him (writing positive things about his film.)
Where do we draw the line between art and artist? One of my favorite authors, William S. Burroughs, was a junky who went on the lam after accidentally murdering his wife playing a drunken version of William Tell. Jack Kerouac wrote a novel ostensibly about statutory rape and car theft and we consider it one of the great American novels. In fact, there are few famous members of the Beat generation not equally known for their crimes as they are their work. And yet we consider them masters. Heroes. Artists. Do we only award these distinctions posthumously? Or long after we’ve forgotten the stories? Will future generations look back with fondness for Gibson, Polanski and Lohan, as they are entirely removed from the racism, child molestation and coke-fueled binges?
When is it okay to acknowledge the art and not the artist? And why do some feel it is okay to attack those who wish only to discuss the art? Where do we draw the line?
The actress arrived at her new attorney Robert Shapiro's Los Angeles rehab centre, Pickford Lofts, on Wednesday night (14Jul10), according to X17Online.com.
Shapiro, who plans to appeal his client's jail time, created the sober-living facility in the memory of his son Brent, who lost his battle with sobriety and died of a drug overdose in 2005.
According to reports, Lohan's mother Dina, sister Ali, her ex-girlfriend Samantha Ronson and her assistant Eleanor helped the Mean Girls star settle in to her temporary home.
I swear to you, I thought I was going to make it through the rest of the week without writing anything about Lindsay Lohan. But alas, here I am and there you are, about to learn something you so desperately want to know and I so desperately want to tell you.
But anyway, X17online reports Lindsay was spotted at a sober living facility last night in West Hollywood, at lawyer (her new lawyer, incidentally) Robert Shapiro's preferred rehab, Pickford Lofts. It was founded after his son died from drug abuse in 2005. Lindsay's mother Dina, sister Ali, and ex-girlfriend Samantha Ronson were all seen visiting her at her new digs.
Lindsay has just five days before she's expected to surrender herself to a jail in California, so if this is her really trying to start her rehabilitation a bit early, that's good. But if she's shacking up in rehab to show the judge she can get clean on her own and doesn't need to be sent to jail at all, it's lame since she's been in rehab three times before. And since there's no such thing as "fourth time's a charm," (just ask Christie Brinkley) what is the real likelihood she'll be able to get her you-know-what together?
The Mean Girls star's new legal counsel is experienced criminal defence attorney Shapiro, who successfully defended actor O.J. Simpson at his 1994 murder trial.
According to TMZ.com, Shapiro will not appeal the actress' upcoming 90-day prison sentence - instead he'll urge Judge Marsha Revel to either eliminate or minimise jail by putting Lohan in rehab.
Shapiro, whose son died of a drug overdose in 2005, wants Lohan to spend time in a live-in treatment centre.
The 24 year old's long-serving lawyer Shawn Chapman Holley resigned just days after the star was sentenced to prison time for breaking the terms of her probation from a 2007 DUI arrest by failing to attend alcohol education classes.
Lohan is due to surrender to authorities on Tuesday.
The actress was left out of the new trailer for Robert Rodriguez's all-star movie when it debuted last week (ends09Jul10) - after she was sentenced to serve 90 days behind bars for violating her probation on a 2007 DUI arrest.
And Rodriguez refused to discuss Lohan during recent promotion for his new film Predators.
But the actress, who will be locked away when the film is released in September (10), is a big part of the film's promotion again, appearing in character as The Sister.
The actress was featured in the first teaser for the Robert Rodriguez film in May (10), but she has been left out of a follow-up - and her name no longer features in the end credits.
The snub comes just three days after Lohan was sentenced to serve 90 days behind bars for violating the terms of her probation on a 2007 DUI arrest.
Ironically, Lohan will be serving time when the movie, which stars Danny Trejo and Steven Seagal, is released at the beginning of September (10). She is expected to surrender to authorities and begin her jail stint on 20 July (10).
It's not all bad news for the actress - the producers of her next film, Inferno, have confirmed they'll stall production until Lohan is released from jail.
Lohan was sentenced to 90 days in prison on Tuesday (06Jul10) after violating her probation relating to a string of drink-driving offences by failing to attend court-ordered alcohol education classes.
She is due to surrender to court on 20 July (10) and will follow up her time behind bars with a further 90 days in rehab.
Filmmaker Matthew Wilder will have to delay production on Inferno: A Linda Lovelace Story as a result of Lohan's punishment, but he's standing by the troubled star.
He tells the Associated Press, "(The crew is) 100 per cent behind Lindsay. We are proud to have this remarkable artist work on our film."
Lohan's jail time will also keep her from promoting Robert Rodriguez's action movie Machete, which is due for release in September (10).
The Mean Girls star's career has taken a turn for the worse in recent years amid a slew of personal problems, including several drink-driving arrests, a brief stint in jail and a trip to rehab, and she was last seen onscreen in straight-to-TV movie Labor Pains in 2009.
Lohan is now preparing for a comeback with a role in Rodriguez's upcoming action film, and the director reveals the star put all of her troubles aside to devote herself to the job.
Rodriguez tells Access Hollywood, "(Lohan) was fantastic. I really love working with her. You just hear so much about people and their personal life that you start forgetting that they have a business life and they actually are a talented actress. And she was just a joy to watch on screen, she lights up the screen anytime you put the camera on her."
The Mean Girls star's career has taken a turn for the worse in recent years and she was last seen in straight-to-TV movie Labor Pains in 2009.
Lohan, who is currently bound by court restrictions relating to her probation from a 2007 arrest, is said to have several movie parts lined up, including a turn as infamous porn star Linda Lovelace in Inferno and a part in Robert Rodriguez's Machete.
But her mother, Dina, has revealed her daughter is also considering a stint on Trump's TV business contest when the show returns for a new season.
She tells New York Post gossip column PageSix, "Donald is a friend of the family, and producers of Celebrity Apprentice have approached Lindsay to appear in the next season. She's deciding if she wants to do it or not, but she currently has three films in production, so she's very busy."
An insider adds, "(TV bosses) are in advanced talks with Lindsay and Dina, but a lot depends on what happens with Lindsay's legal issues."
"Lindsay isn’t any different from any girl her age. She has the same problems that a lot of our daughters have, but she’s in the public eye all the time. I’ve seen them carry some other girl the same age out of that same club and nobody cares a damn." Moviemaker ROBERT RODRIGUEZ defends his decision to cast Lindsay Lohan in Machete.