Last night, I caught a preview screening of X-Men: Days Of Future Past. It's a boisterously fun time-travel movie that funnels the best elements of The Terminator and The Matrix through Marvel's universe to deliver the best X-Men movie to date. And yet, while queuing outside the cinema, I couldn't help but feel slightly conflicted. (Anyone who keeps abreast of celebrity news will know exactly what I'm talking about.)
Without getting into the grimy details, X-Men: Days Of Future Past director Bryan Singer is currently embroiled in a legal battle of the worst kind (it involves a locked bedroom and an unwilling teenage associate — we'll let you connect the dots.) Like Woody Allen, Singer has vehemently denied the allegations and should be presumed innocent until proven otherwise.
Nevertheless, it made me contemplate my moral obligations as a moviegoer in these types of situations. Is it wrong to support a movie made by an allegedly reprehensible human being? Or should a commercial product (I hesitate to call most Hollywood movies 'art') be judged on its own merits?
The history of cinema is filled with great movie makers whose personal lives leave a sour taste in the mouth. Some are guilty of outrageous political views, others of outspoken bigotry and some have even been convicted of serious crimes.
A few examples off the top of my head include Chinatown director Roman Polanski (who fled the US after being charged with raping a minor), Pulp Fiction co-creator Roger Avary (jailed for killing a passenger in a DUI offense), Powder director Victor Salva (convicted for sexually molesting a 12-year old boy) and Olympia director Leni Riefenstahl (that whole Nazi thing).
All of the above creators continued to make movies after their crimes were committed, which presents the aforementioned dilemma. On one hand, a movie has absolutely nothing to do with the personal life of its creator and shouldn't affect one's judgement. But on the other hand, we're sometimes talking about truly terrible crimes here — is it really okay to just sweep this under the carpet so you can enjoy a night at the movies? Often, a percentage of profits go directly into the director's pocket which makes the situation even murkier.
I can't help but feel that our willingness to turn a blind eye to this stuff sets a precedence where Hollywood types are given a free pass by society. But that's just my two cents. You can cast your own vote in the poll below. We're also keen to hear your opinions in the comments section below. Have at it!