In this column, I discuss the subject of disillusionment as it relates to entertainment and religion:
Not very long ago, if you had told me there was an hour of television I could watch that featured Charlie Rose, John Lasseter, Louis C.K. and Kevin Spacey all sitting at an empty table against a black background, pontificating about art and the human experience, I would have been enthusiastically interested.
Now, I’m sad thinking about all four of them, and many others, repulsed by stories that have surfaced that expose private histories of sexual harassment and assault and patterns of behavior in which power is abused to prey on the vulnerable.
I’m almost as repulsed by each of those four former heroes’ respective “apologies” — why can some of culture’s brightest minds fail to understand what that word means? Spacey, Rose and C.K. all publicly responded to their allegations in ways that range from “downright awful” to “almost passable, but not quite.” And Lasseter’s apology was unsettling in how vague it was — I’m skeptical that “hugs” would be enough to make the most powerful man in animation, maybe in Hollywood, publicly apologize and temporarily resign just days before his studio’s big movie was to be released.
This moment has been called a “reckoning,” and I hope it is. I hope that because these allegations are reaching all sides of politics — and all sides of artistic talent — no one is safe, and this moment will bring about a lasting toppling of patriarchal power in society.
As careers are ending left and right, it seems to me to be the culture’s natural, bodily response to the virus that entered when the nation knowingly elected a man to the highest office whose patterns of sexual assault and harassment were widespread and widely known before election day. With each new man that falls now in this moment of sickness, the culture is trying hard to purge the Trump virus from its system.
Here’s hoping this fever will keep rising until it breaks, in that case.
One thing that makes that cultural temperature rise is when the men who stand accused are artists whose work we admire and enjoy. There’s a kind of flippant satisfaction when a known creep gets taken down, but the shock of learning about this behavior from “one of the good guys” can be jarring.
Fortunately, my life experiences to now have prepared me well for the shock of seeing my heroes fall and fail to live up to everything I thought they were: I’m Mormon.