Jerks and Their Art
I am obsessed with space exploration, and I am proud that the United States’ dominance of the field has been cemented since Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon in 1969. The success of the Apollo program came in large part from the first Director of the Marshall Space Flight Center, a rocket scientist and former officer in the Waffen-SS named Wernher von Braun. After World War 2, the United States military imported German Scientists in an initiative called Operation Paperclip. Von Braun, whose development of the German V2 rocket utilized slave labor, was among them. It sucks to have to reconcile his loathsome complicity in German atrocities with the triumph of his Saturn V rockets, but no Nazis, no moon.
I listen to Wagner, who called for the downfall of the Jews. So did Henry Ford and Walt Disney. Hank Williams participated in events featuring blackface comedy groups. Ezra Pound was a fascist.
When you start considering those miscreant geniuses who harmed their own families, the list becomes overwhelming. Kurt Cobain robbed his daughter of a father. Woody Allen’s stepdaughter became his wife. Papa John Philips took Woody Allen a step further by throwing consanguinity into the father-bangs-daughhter mix.
In light of this, I wanted to follow up on the post below. I think Roman Polanski should be prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law (even if his pals think that invoking the grade-school tag rule of being “on base” should shield him from accounting for his crimes), but I don’t think that Polanski should be blackballed or that his work should be ignored.
We don’t get to pick the people who make great contributions to society and culture, nor do we do a service by rejecting brilliant output from those we deem to be bad guys.
It sucks, but that’s how it goes.