Friday, Jun 09, 2023 | Last Update : 07:53 PM IST

  Life   More Features  25 Feb 2017  Judge the artiste or the person?

Judge the artiste or the person?

Published : Feb 25, 2017, 12:03 am IST
Updated : Feb 25, 2017, 7:55 am IST

When it comes to awards or honours, what holds weight — just the art, or the actor with all personal baggage?

Casey Affleck at the Golden Globes.
 Casey Affleck at the Golden Globes.

Hollywood legends like Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp have one thing in common  — they all have a lot of loyal admirers for their expertise and genius — but have also been subjected to criticism due to their controversial personal lives. In fact, several allegations, ranging from harassment to abuse and domestic violence have been hurled at them. The latest to be added to this list is Casey Affleck, who is simultaneously being lauded for his terrific performance in the Oscar favourite Manchester By The Sea — but is also scorned for allegations against him for ‘sexual harassment’ and ‘verbal abuse’.

Generally, celebrities, with such history, have always become a topic of discussion during prestigious events like the Academy Awards, Golden Globes and more. Casey Affleck’s Best Actor win at the Globes faced a lot of protests on social media, especially from women who felt insulted that an actor of questionable repute had been celebrated. Closer home, even in K’town, we are familiar with the story of actor STR drawing a lot of flak for his Beep Song, inducing a hate campaign against him! This leads us to the eternal discussion of ethics separating art from the artist. How much of an actor’s personal life can influence audiences/ judges/ filmmakers to work with/ against him or her?  We talk to Hollywood and Kollywood actors, directors and jury members if a celebrity should be judged purely based on their talent or should personal character and lives also be taken into account? (as most of them are looked upon as role models by many.)

Reacting to Affleck being nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, actor Sunkrish Bala, who has appeared in prominent American television series, including Castle and Grey’s Anatomy, explains, “I think Hollywood has a huge double standard. They completely buried Nate Parker (who was accused and acquitted for rape) and his movie (The Birth of a Nation), after the allegations against him came out, but are somehow completely fine with Casey Affleck.” He adds, “Affleck is Hollywood royalty and, well, white. What’s more egregious is that the allegations about Casey are regarding the incidents that happened in the workplace — while shooting films. What I think is, yes, support the performance. But don’t hire him. Don’t put other professionals in a position where they have to endure that kind of behavior.”

Director Balaji Mohan says that topics like these can’t be viewed objectively. He explains, “I’m not aware about this year’s Oscar nominations — so I will not be able to comment on it. But it is such a sensitive topic and it can be very subjective. If you ask me personally, I don’t judge a person based on his/ her personal life. It’s not only restricted to the film industry — every person might have different professional and personal lives. So when it comes to work, I see only the talent.” On the other hand, Hollywood, and Indian actor Roger Narayan, who has acted in movies like U-Turn, has a different point of view to that of Sunkrish. He opines, “I think what happens in a celebrity’s personal life is purely personal and the celebrity should take care to protect it and the fan and press should respect that boundary. A celebrity who is in the public eye — whether it’s an actor, politician or sportsperson — gets scrutinised more than regular people. That’s not to say anyone is above the law, but there should be fair play. Fans feel a sense of wonder and at the same time feel they know a celebrity, simply because they see them in the movies. But a celebrity has no idea who the fan is, since they are simply playing to the camera when working.”

He continues, “There’s a whole new exhibitionist attitude among some celebrities and conversely a voyeuristic attitude to see the celebrity in their intimate, unguarded moments among fans. An Oscar is given for acting excellence, so it should be independent of anything happening in their personal life and should be purely judged on their artistic and creative excellence. The legal system should be allowed to handle what happens in their personal life, fairly, just like for any other citizen.” Actor-director-producer Pratap Pothen, who has also been part of a jury for several award shows, says that an actor or a technician should not be judged only based on the amount of awards.

“I have attended many award functions and I have to tell you, most of them are fixed. Even if you take the Oscars, many members who have won the award previously vote for it — I don’t think it is fair. I can’t comment on anyone’s personal life, but all I can say is never celebrate a person purely because of awards alone.” Meanwhile, director-actress Lakshmy Ramakrishnan states, “If you ask me, I would say, the awards are not only for encouraging a particular celebrity, but also a source of motivation for fans who think that particular person is a good role model. Thus, an award should be given to a person who is also a good human being. My point is, if one is even accused of misdeeds, but you think he/ she’s a good artiste, make   the person act and pay their salary — but don’t celebrate the artiste.”

Tags: woody allen, brad pitt