What Good is a Good Man?

This probably seems like a very strange question to ask, but let me explain the context a bit.

At my college, we have a speaker every night, people in various fields discussing all sorts of topics. Earlier this week, we were visited by an alumnus, a screenwriter who wrote one of the greatest love films of all time, An Officer and a Gentleman. I had the privilege of sitting with him at dinner and picking his brain about Hollywood, about his process, about what the college was like when he was here. He was a fascinating human being.

There is now an uproar because of an impression that he’s sexist, egotistical, and basically a jerk (to put it nicely). No, he wasn’t the sort of human being that I would have modeled myself after, and his smile did sort of creep me out. He’s been married five times, and he made jokes referring to his wives by monikers instead of names (but let’s be real, it was a joke), but that doesn’t mean he’s sexist. Necessarily.

What really bugs me about what they’re saying, though, is that he’s “not a nice guy.”

I really can’t figure out what the value is supposed to be in having only “nice guys” come and speak at a college. What do we learn by only having people who are nice tell us their stories and ideas? I can certainly think of what we lose. The Hemingways, the Andy Warhols, the Robert Downey Juniors. There are a lot of people who are brilliant at what they do who aren’t especially nice or exemplary in their lifestyle choices, especially when it comes to artists (although I think businessmen and politicians fall into this trap as well). So we shouldn’t only listen to the not-nice guys, but I think we lose something if we ignore the jerks too.

The biggest thing that matters, I think, in a speaker is if they can speak confidently on what they’re saying, and since this guy basically told his life story, I think he nailed it.




About Charlotte Blackwood

Charlotte Blackwood is a self-employed aspiring author working on perfecting her first novella/ first novel. She is a current student at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, CA. If you're looking for a reading list (someday she'll add her own works to the list), she's currently supporting Anna Karenina, anything by Dickens, anything by Tolkien, anything by JK Rowling, A Song of Ice and Fire, and The Hunger Games.

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