Should we separate the art from the artist?

Should we still watch House of Cards after the Kevin Spacey thing? Is it okay to listen to R Kelly after all the allegations? What about XXXtentacion? Harvey Weinstein? Meek Mill?? Bill Cosby???

If you know me, you know I refuse to listen to Kodak Black. It’s not that I don’t like his music, to be quite honest he’s got a few bops. But that ship sailed the day I found out about the rape and abuse allegations held against him. My reasoning was that I just wouldn’t support someone who was being accused of such awful things, no matter how talented he was. And then earlier this year the TL started going MAD over R Kelly, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, you name it. This got me feeling some type of way because truth be told I’m a sucker for some R Kelly. Ignition remix? That’s my jam. Which got me thinking… is it possible to separate the art from the artist? I mean sure, Kodak messed up but his music’s still good… so what now?

You’ve probably seen that Kevin Spacey thing on social media recently, but just in case I’ll summarise what’s going on. Kevin Spacey is one of Hollywood’s most decorated actors, but following allegations that he sexually assaulted a 14-year-old boy he’s now facing a lot of criticism. To make matters worse, following his statement he was accused of trying to deflect from the sex assault allegations by announcing his homosexuality. So basically not only is he facing criticism for the allegations held against him but now the LGBTQ+ community is beefing him for tarnishing their image (rightly so if you ask me). Anyways so since then many new allegations have emerged which have led to Netflix dropping him from the last season of their Netflix Originals series ‘House of Cards’, and if people weren’t talking before they’re definitely talking now – should we separate the art from the artist?

I know it sucks, but some things just can’t be pardoned. By continuing to support these artists, we’re low-key condoning their actions. Do you really want to make an alleged rapist richer? Do you want to fund a drug abuser’s lifestyle? There are some instances where, depending on the way the artist presents himself, it’s actually impossible to create a disparity between the maker and his craft. If a rapper constantly presents himself as a rude, abusive member of society and this transcends into his songs, I’m sorry but I personally can’t find a way to separate both; I just can’t help but think that one would not exist without the other.

But on the other hand, you can’t blame the song for its singer, blame the book for its author or blame the painting for its painter. Picasso was misogynistic and Paris Hilton said homophobic things. I guess what I’m trying to say is that art isn’t always an extension of the artist, or a representation of the artist. Therefore, should it not be judged for its artistic merits rather than its creator? Art should speak for itself, right?

Besides, the way pop culture works means that 100% of the purchase price doesn’t directly go to the artist who made it. For example, if you buy a book some of your money goes to the people who proofread it and printed it. So it’s not like you’re just handing the artist a cheque as such.

So I asked a few people what they thought of this situation, here’s what they said:

“I used to think you should separate the art from the artist, but I’ve changed my mind. It’s different for TV shows and music, because with TV there’s more than the abuser on the cast. Even to some extent with music, there’s features, a label etc. But the reason I say no is because more often than not the artist used his art to gain the power and influence to get away with BS in the first place. Like Spacey, Weinstein, Cosby, Kodak, R Kelly. If they didn’t separate it, how can we?”

“I want to say no. Art is a reflection of the person, so in supporting the art you’re supporting the person. You can enjoy R Kelly’s music for example but by supporting it, being part of those essentially giving him his COIN, you are inadvertently turning a blind eye to the wrong he has done”

“It’s different for some artists, like XXX. He suffers from mental illness, severe depression, anxiety, he’s suicidal. It’s not fair to fully hold him accountable for his actions”

“If you could appreciate the art before you knew the artist was an abuser/paedophile/murderer I don’t think their art changes once allegations come out. House of Cards will always be a good series regardless of the personal lives of the actors. Appreciating art and supporting a person can be separated”

When it comes down to it, I think it’s down to personal relativism. I also think it’s a holistic decision. It depends on how you feel about the artist, his views, his behaviour, his belief systems etc. Everyone should come to their own decision. If you want to separate the art from the artist, you do that. If you don’t, that’s okay too. You may choose to support the art but not the artist, and vice versa. Context is also so important when making such judgements. Social media is really good at blowing everything out of proportion, so please don’t believe everything you see on the TL. Do your own research, come to your own conclusions.

What do you think about this? Let me know!

Twitter: @maylineeeeee                                                            



The Move

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