I am a huge fan of the New York Knicks. Years ago, the Knicks brought in a player named Latrell Sprewell. Now, Sprewell was a terrific player. The guy had speed, power, could shoot, and most importantly, the nastiness you need to play in New York. Great signing, right? Well, not so fast. Before coming to New York, Latrell played for the Golden State Warriors and was involved in an incident with his coach. I say "involved in an incident" when what actually happened was Sprewell choked the living hell out of the guy. As a result, he was fined, suspended and no team wanted to touch the guy. Except the Knicks. He ended up coming here and being a part of a winning club, going to the finals, the all star game- generally being a great part of a winning team.
When I first heard about the choking incident my first reaction was: "What a thug, awful thing to do, how could you do that in a professional setting, what a jackass, terrible guy, etc." Then I heard the Knicks were going to sign him and I had to realign my position a bit. You see, for as much as I hated what he did, I really wanted to see my Knicks be successful. So I decided that just because we know what Latrell did, doesn't mean other guys in the league aren't doing as bad or worse things that we DON'T know about. I knew that if a player was great and on my team, I am going to root like hell for him, damn the off the court stuff. That line of thinking led me to think about other areas where performers, or better yet, where ARTISTS are involved. After all, athletes are artists as much as anyone. So what does this "Sprewell Principle" mean for all artists?
As an artist myself, I have people whose work I truly admire and follow and kind of put up on a pedestal. I had heard story after story of people meeting some of my artistic heroes and them turning out to be major league jerks. It got to a point where I decided that, not only do I never want to meet some of my heroes, but that wether or not they were jerks was kind of irrelevant. After all, Michelangelo could have been a world class asshole and how would we know? For all we know, Leonardo Da Vinci was a prick! Does it change their art, or my appreciation for it? Not at all.
Basically it comes down to the idea that I believe we have to have a bit of a disconnect in order for us to truly appreciate an artists work. And by that I mean all artists, athletes, actors, singers- the whole lot of 'em. Do you know about that famous singer's penchant for dressing up like Musolini and wearing a watermelon on his head? No? but his album is #1 on the chart! What about the bisexual necrophiliac baseball player? No? But he's in the hall of fame! My point is- what we don't know is probably a good thing- at least when it comes to the appreciation of art.
Which brings me to Mel Gibson (good segue, eh?). I used to be a Mel gibson fan, who doesn't love the first 2 Lethal Weapon movies? Mad Max? The guy was cool and funny. Then the whole anti-simetic, drunken rant happened. Kinda made me look twice at the guy. That rant offended me, not because of the jewish blood in me, but more because of the hate involved. The guy just was a bigot. Bigotry in any form is deplorable and here was this guy just spewing hate. Not good. But then I found myself thinking of good ole Latrell Sprewell. Loved that guy. Hated what he did. Hard to reconcile still but what are we to do when it comes to appreciating art? Will I see the new Mel Gibson movie? Probably not. That may have more to do with my having kids and never leaving the house but to go to work. But wether or not to EVER see a Mel Gibson movie is an issue I have yet to work out. After all, Leni Riefenstahl was basically a nazi...but DAMN her photos are beautiful.