I decided to watch Star Trek: The Motion Picture again a while ago. If that statement perplexes you, don't worry, I fully intend to make a separate post about why I love that movie. In fact, I love it so much that I decided to watch it spread out over time, so I could savor it for more than a couple hours. That produced a very unexpected side-effect; when I started watching the movie, the actor who played Will Decker [Stephen Collins, for you non-Trekkies] was the dad on that cheesy family drama from a while back, and a couple very funny guest spots on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (I'm mildly surprised there was never an image macro of him saying "You people are terrible!" which would certainly take on a whole new meaning now). When I came back to continue watching the movie, he was a confessed child molester.
So what did I do? I kept right on watching the movie. After all, Will Decker is not a child molester (so far as we know). I've long been confused by people's tendency to merge the art with the artist. I remember when the incident of Tom Cruise bouncing on Oprah's couch happened, and how it turned a lot of people off to Tom Cruise's movies. Why? What correlation does Ethan Hunt or any other scripted fictional character have to the silly things Tom Cruise does in real life? I don't get it. I've heard Morgan Freeman express some political opinions that I think are ludicrously misplaced and judgmental, but that doesn't change the fact that he's a good actor. It certainly does diminish my opinion of him as a person, but in the world of Hollywood excess and eccentricity, if we judged every actor based on how they really behave as people (outside of the public eye), we wouldn't be seeing very many movies.
Long story short, I don't understand it. I'd like to hear other people's viewpoints on this type of thing, whether they were a fan of Stephen Collins, Tom Cruise or some other actor, and then something happened which prevented them from being able to enjoy that actor's work anymore, or if you rather tend to separate art from artist as I do. I'm really curious to hear how other people feel about this issue.
EDITED TO ADD: I want to clarify that I'm not talking about the monetary component of this issue; you might not want to see a certain director's movie because he's an accused pedophile, and you don't want to subsidize those activities, I understand that. But when I watch Star Trek: The Motion Picture, it's on a VHS tape I got from eBay (and I doubt Stephen Collins would get much in the way of residuals for the Blu-Ray anyway), so the question of giving the person money is not in play. For our purpose, let's posit a situation where the person whose beliefs or behaviors you disagree with will not receive any financial benefit if you watch their movie, okay?