COMMENT:

In these dark days of relentless sun and heat, anger and conceit, it helps to maintain a semblance of love for your fellow homo sapiens. But how to do it?

The human attributes that I hold any real reverence for are all found within the arts. Music, literature, art, film, dance. The things that celebrate humanness; the things that remind us what's great about we mortals. Talents that can stir the heart.

Which may go some way to explaining the difficulty of completely turning on celebrities who have sexually transgressed from the norm. I mean, their work still stands up even if it appears that their morals and ethics haven't, right?

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Take Rolf Harris. Off the wall and into the shed for a bit of "time out" was how my niece described the removal of a limited edition print titled Lifelong Friends.

It's quite the beautiful piece depicting a couple of very typical older Maltese men in the town of Bugibba in Malta, sitting outside by a wall close to their houses, on the wall is a political slogan referring to the then Prime Minister of Malta, Dom Mintoff.

She explained that its temporary removal felt like the appropriate thing to do, given his then recent conviction for 12 counts of indecent assault on four teenage female victims during the 70s and 80s. He was stripped of many of the honours he had been awarded during his career. Like him or loathe him, Rolf Harris can paint.

Kevin Spacey can act. However, when multiple allegations surfaced of inappropriate sexual conduct with young men, he was instantly dropped from Season 6 of Netflix's outrageously popular House of Cards.

As Frank Underwood, Spacey is unforgettable. I attempted to watch the final season without him. I couldn't do it.

The question is should I want to see him act again? Given the allegations, that have yet to turn into convictions, is there a case for somehow pretending that Spacey's role in American Beauty, for example, wasn't worthy? Can I rewrite history to negate the fact that the man can act? To effectively pay him no mind? To consider that his life's work is not worthy of rooting for him to make a comeback?

While Harvey Weinstein certainly changed the celebrity scandal landscape, and his demise has rightly shifted the dynamics in Hollywood around powerful men and their inordinate control over women, let's face it. It's not our first time at this particular rodeo.

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The difference this time around seems to be the very strong sense of certain sectors of the public wanting revenge around any celebrity impropriety, claiming it's all on behalf of the victims. The glee with which some want famous heads on pikes is medieval in its desire.

Let's talk dead celebrities. Those that can't defend themselves any longer, and who may, or may not, be guilty of the allegations against them. Michael Jackson is fast becoming known as the posthumous paedophile, and much of the evidence supports that view.

Here's the question? Am I going to choose not to hear another Michael Jackson mega hit – either accidentally, or on purpose again? Or, do I let the almighty and all-knowing free market decide for me whether Jackson will stand the test of time? I suspect I know which one will win out.

Because a talent that immense will not just moonwalk into the night. Neither should it. The maestro of singing and dancing, the King of Pop, the recipient of massive adoration, and such a huge part of so many people's lives, may be dented but is not scratched. His musical record, at least, still sounds sweet. There's no taking that fact away.

Some, I'm sure, will decide to actively ban him from their playlists and their lives. No more Thriller on their shelves, they'll discard him faster than you can say "Bad", but I won't be one of them. I don't believe you can rewrite history. It's already made.

In a New Zealand context, one of the biggest luminaries of the last century was James K Baxter. Recently, a rather unsubtle headline starkly stated, 'James K Baxter, rapist'. In a dense, intellectual review of his new book, the case was put that Baxter had casually admitted raping his wife in one of his letters to her.

The writer thinks that Baxter's literary critics were curiously unchallenging of his representation of women in his work. He goes on to say, "We enter a moment where it's no longer possible to talk about him without addressing the ways that he thinks and writes about women."

As a life-long reader of Baxter's work, I'd already factored that into my calculations. Like, where have you been?

Rightly or wrongly, the dastardly deeds are done. Yet their work lives on. Let it be.