Can We Still Consume the Work of Disgraced Artists — Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #119


Come­di­an Genevieve Joy, philosopher/NY Times enter­tain­ment writer Lawrence Ware, and nov­el­ist Sarahlyn Bruck join your host Mark Lin­sen­may­er to dis­cuss how we as spec­ta­tors deal with enter­tain­ers like R. Kel­ly, Michael Jack­son, Woody Allen, et al. We all watched W. Kamau Bel­l’s Show­time doc­u­men­tary We Need to Talk About Cos­by, so most of our dis­cus­sion is around that.

None of us seem able to sep­a­rate the art from the artist, but this varies by art form, how much of the per­son­’s per­son­al­i­ty and val­ues went into the art, and the specifics of the alleged crimes or bad behav­ior. Cos­by presents such a dra­mat­ic, unam­bigu­ous case because he was so uni­ver­sal­ly beloved, and vital­ly impor­tant to the black com­mu­ni­ty, yet his crimes were so numer­ous, heinous, well doc­u­ment­ed, and thor­ough­ly under­mine the image that he sought to con­vey. Does our dis­il­lu­sion­ment with him per­haps reflect not just on rape cul­ture but the impor­tance we put on celebri­ty itself that made Cos­by for a long time “too big to fail”?

It’s fine if you haven’t seen the doc­u­men­tary. You can expe­ri­ence Bell talk­ing about it on WTF and in Slate. For in-depth info on the charges against Bill Cos­by, try the Chas­ing Cos­by pod­cast.

Fol­low us @CAtFightJOy, @law_writes, @sarahlynbruck, and @MarkLinsenmayer.

This episode includes bonus dis­cus­sion fea­tur­ing all of our guests that you can access by sup­port­ing the pod­cast at or by choos­ing a paid sub­scrip­tion through Apple Pod­casts. This pod­cast is part of the Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life pod­cast net­work.

Pret­ty Much Pop: A Cul­ture Pod­cast is the first pod­cast curat­ed by Open Cul­ture. Browse all Pret­ty Much Pop posts.

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.