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Terrence Howard: Separating Art and the Artist

Terrence Howard 2015

As a music critic for over two decades and counting, choosing my all-time favorite album might be a difficult decision, yet it isn’t at all. The record in my collection that shows no signs of diminishing returns is Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue, once described by producer Quincy Jones as his aural daily orange juice. The late jazz icon treated his ex-wives reprehensibly, bragging about his physical abuse of actress Cicely Tyson in his 1989 autobiography and inspiring playwright Pearl Cleage to pen an insightful screed entitled Mad at Miles.

The criminal charges Terrence Howard has faced over physical assaults on women failed to impede his 2005 Best Actor nomination for Hustle & Flow, nor his latest success as the star of Empire— a guilty pleasure dramatic series set in a hip-hop milieu and inspired equally by King Lear and Dynasty. The question of accountability for Howard’s actions ignores the court of public opinion that seems to have already separated the actor’s art from his public life, as well as Hollywood’s own blind eye when failing to condemn personal irresponsibility. (See Woody Allen.)

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