cate blanchett
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Actress Cate Blanchett recently spoke out against cancel culture, claiming that studying the works of historical figures and famous artists is vital, regardless of whether people find them controversial or offensive.

While discussing her new movie “Tár” with the Radio Times, which discusses the challenges of separating the auteur from the art, an interviewer asked the award-winning actress if it’s acceptable to “cancel” great artists because of their “personal foibles.” Blanchett responded, “You look at Picasso. You can only imagine what went on in, outside and around his studio. But do you look at Guernica and say: ‘That is one of the greatest works of art ever?’ Yes. It’s a fact. I think it’s important to have a healthy critique.”

Blanchett added that engaging with older works is vital to understanding the historical context around the art and its creator. She said, “If you don’t read older books that are slightly offensive because of what they say in a historical context, then you will never grapple with the kinds of the time. So, therefore, we are destined to repeat that stuff.”

“Tár” is a movie about a fictional world-famous maestro and EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) winner Lydia Tár, and has been nominated for six Oscars, including Best Actress for Blanchett in the leading role. Blanchett said the film used cancel culture as a thematic and plot device to confront “existential” issues facing the modern world.

In a much-discussed scene from the film, the character Tár sits at a piano with one of her students, Max, and asks his opinion on a famous piece by composer Johann Sebastian Bach. “You play really well,” the student, Max, replied. “But nowadays, White, male, cis composers, just not my thing.” Tár snaps back, “Don’t be so eager to be offended. The narcissism of small differences leads to the most boring conformity.”

Tár also challenges Max’s reservations about Bach and asks him to consider how those ideals could affect the young man’s career. “But you see, the problem with enrolling yourself as an ultrasonic epistemic dissident is that if Bach’s talent can be reduced to his gender, birth country, religion, and so on, then so can yours,” she said, pacing and addressing the entire class.

She continues a lengthy rant against Max’s worldview before he gets up, grabs his bags, and calls the teacher a “f—ing b—h” before storming out of the classroom. The film also tackles topics like the #MeToo movement, with Tár preying on her favorite young female students. More than one critic has even suggested the character acts like a female Harvey Weinstein.

Other reviewers suggested there are glaring similarities between Tár and the real-life conductor Marin Alsop, who is name-checked in the film along with other renowned female composers. Alsop spoke out against the film, taking issue with the idea of portraying a woman in such a prestigious artistic role and then painting her as an abuser.

“There are so many men — actual, documented men — this film could have been based on, but, instead, it puts a woman in the role but gives her all the attributes of those men,” she said. “That feels anti-woman. To assume that women will either behave identically to men or become hysterical, crazy, insane is to perpetuate something we’ve already seen on film so many times before.”

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