Sexual Predators in the Arts

Sexual Predators in the Arts

Never did watch that TV program, but it was a big hit, elsewhere. Apparently. However, one clever observation?

J.R. — “Barnes just broke the cardinal rule of politics: never get caught in bed with a live man or a dead woman.” (J.R. Ewing, from Dallas via imdb.)

Politicians, movie stars, and now, even an opera star. Until this point, the scandals haven’t tainted much, besides politics, and we know from history that politics is always tainted with innuendo and intrigue, not always factual.

For years, for me anyway, the gold standard for Wagner’s Ring Cycle has been a James Levine recording. I listened to it, over and over. Default standard. To show solidarity for the victims, should I burn it?

When House of Cards first appeared, I was a huge fan. Less these days, but the similarity between the lead actor, Kevin Spacey and Shakespeare’s version of Richard III is even more scary and accurate, now: apparently a predator devoid of moral compass. Just — more as a side bar note — that’s the evil version of Richard III, not the historical one. Probably one of the reasons Kevin Spacey was such a good actor.

Sexual Predators in the Arts

From politicians to — in certain local music, there’s a line about a preacher getting caught doing what he preached not to do. The depth of the sickness runs throughout it all.

I’m a writer and the thin line between reality and fantasy gets quite blurred. In my fantasies, I am a little thinner, a little more hair on my head, and I tend to be a little more interesting in the made-up world of non-reality.

Also, I have such a narrow grip on consensual reality as it is? I can’t afford to lose any more of those anchor points.

So politicians are held to a higher standard, there is a certain probity of word — and deed — that is expected from office holders. I knew a few I would trust. Sadly, those trustworthy souls tend to be overlooked because, well, they are honest.

When I joke about politics — in Texas — being a blood sport, it’s met with a quiet amusement because, in fact, local politics is a bloody mess. At any hint of impropriety, there’s a skid mark, all that’s left. “Disgraced” doesn’t even cover it.

Sexual Predators in the Arts

Wagner’s Ring Cycle is built upon Norse Myth. So in recollecting this, I was sure, there is at least one Norse myth where young maidens are seduced. Perhaps it is the appeal of power. In young males, I recall this, lust stirs in our loins. Write that off to growth and raging hormones.

In no way does any of this justify the actions of the alleged perpetrators. My original question, though, two parts, where is the guilt, and what is correct action moving forward?

I’m going to the damn opera, and I will have a good time. However, my responsibility? Where does that fall? That the artists have produced great bodies of work, does a single lapse in judgement negate an entire canon?

Mental illness runs strong in great artists.

Predators and Prey

Now, without getting too deep into it, the Catholic Church, privately, I have acknowledged that I like and admire the good deeds done by that branch — largest cult in the world. Perhaps 80%, maybe more, is good. That they covered up a mess, which, in turn, just made more of mess? Fess up and clean up, or, this gets worse in a hurry. For that institution, it was a public perception nightmare, the likes of which, the church might never fully recover.

To this day, there are still jokes about priests and altar boys.

Still, I used to live halfway between two centuries-old cathedrals, holy places of worship, and I would wander in, such as my spirit moved me. I was always reverently awed by the strength and dedication towards their perception of doing good works. Didn’t always work out that way, but the spirit was strong.

Personally, I’m a fan of “Meso-American Catholicism,” the brand most common here. Like the Italian, only different, yeah, the Pope is still — nominally — the main person, but there are whole legions of local saints, minor deities, and off-shoots. Always interesting, cf., Virgin of Guadalupe and Santa Muerte.

I’ll openly admire the goodness that the mother church spread, and forgive her for the oversights, lapse in common sense, and just stupid errors in handling a certain portion of the human staff.

But that’s the church, and what did we all learn in the years following?

Sexual Predators in the Arts

The church did it. Politicians do it. Now, the arts.

Guilt and responsibility, where does it fall?

There’s some arcane set of rules, weights and measures, where a sin of omission is less than an actual sin. Ignoring a problem isn’t as bad as admitting there is problem? Not sure how that works.

What was ground into me, at the beginning of this career, is that knowledge of crime, and failing to report it, was the same as the crime itself. This was directly addressed to these situations.

Of course, some restrictions apply, see the fine print for details.

My understanding was that knowledge of sexual misconduct, especially if involves underage, is a crime so heinous that it is most surely not covered by pastoral care privileges.

  1. I am not a lawyer.
  2. This only my current understanding.

The take-away point is simple: knowledge of such actions requires notifying law enforcement agencies. Call the cops, however that shows up locally.

Failure to do so makes the knowledge of the cover-up as bad as the crime itself.

Sexual Predators in the Arts

Backing up to the various Catholic Church organizations, though, having learned — the hard way — from lessons about this, “Fess up then clean the mess.”

Fess up and clean up is not nearly the same as cover-up.

The hugest of problems, this isn’t funny. Not to the victims. That this was “OK” in its time? Doesn’t mean it was really OK; it just means that the problem was overlooked.

Ignoring a problem, doesn’t make it go away. Well, sometimes, yeah, that works for me, but no, in this type of a situation?

The original questions stand, who is guilty? What is the correct action moving forward?

No missile toe

No missile toe

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