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Can one separate the art from the artist?

Can one separate the art from the artist?

Can one separate the art from the artist?
November 16
14:00 2021
Humanity has been evolving as a species for a long time and one way we’ve improved is how we’ve held individuals accountable for crimes they’ve committed and the choices they’ve made. We’ve especially been working on this in pop culture.
The #MeToo movement was part of it, at times, in a good way. For example, film producer Harvey Weinstein was found to be a disgusting human being who used his power to treat women in atrocious and unforgivable ways.He was rightfully called out for his actions and was subsequently removed from his company as well as the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Most importantly, of course, he is facing jail time for his crimes. Despite the success of films he’s produced, it doesn’t excuse what he did to his victims and it especially doesn’t excuse him generally being the human equivalent of manure.
A celebrity who was getting canceled for allegations that turned out to be false was Johnny Depp. Years ago, he’d been accused of domestic abuse towards his ex-wife Amber Heard. As a result of the accusations, Depp was removed from some of the films he was working on, namely the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise. After evidence had surfaced proving that Heard had lied about her allegations, Depp was found not guilty and she was rightfully called out for what she’d done.
Someone who has been in the spotlight for the bad things he’s done in the past is R. Kelly. Formerly known as a talented singer and songwriter, he was rightfully outed as a creep who used his influence in the industry to prey upon young women and treat them in inhumane ways.
It’s not like this was new information though. He’d been called out for his actions for years and it was well known, but for reasons I’ll never understand, R. Kelly wasn’t forced to face the music for his crimes and continued having success with his music.
However, R. Kelly’s not been given much of a break by the media or the justice system. He’s not only been convicted of the crimes he was accused of in his recent trial while still awaiting sentencing, but he’s also facing life in prison. He hasn’t made much music outside of his most recent album and the infamous and notably derided track “I Admit.” His label has subsequently dropped him and numerous artists who worked with him, including Celine Dion, Lady Gaga and Nick Cannon. They have since expressed regret with working with R. Kelly, with some removing their collaborations from music streaming platforms.
Another well-known individual who’s had his name brought through the wringer a number of times would be the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. It’s a little harder to know for sure if the charges brought up involving him are true since not only is he no longer with us but there are questions by some about the validity of the claims and the circumstances behind the allegations.
Either way, Jackson left his mark on the music industry, world history and pop culture as one of the most influential and successful performers of all time and who did do a lot of good in his life when it comes to charity and providing for those in need.
While working on this story, I watched Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update segment on the then-recent documentaries focusing on the allegations towards Jackson and R. Kelly (“Leaving Neverland” and “Surviving R Kelly,” respectively). In the segment, Pete Davidson had some ideas for how one could enjoy the content of bad individuals.
He pointed out how one could acknowledge they’re bad people when buying their products or donate to charities helping victims of crimes like sexual assault. Davidson also pointed out how difficult it can be to consume media we enjoy like music, movies shows and books among others when tons of bad individuals profited off of the content they made.
If one wants to enjoy content from content creators who’ve committed unforgivable crimes, there are ways of enjoying them without paying them for it. For example, the next time you want to throw on a track from the likes of R. Kelly, Jackson, Chris Brown, DaBaby, Tory Lanez and others without supporting them, one can listen to their songs or albums from YouTube channels that are not linked with the artist.

As a result, the artists get less money for their work. Or if one wants to watch a movie starring an actor, director or producer who has done bad things, there are likely ways of watching the films without giving them as much of a profit, such as video rentals or watching them on streaming services.

Featured Illustration by J. Robynn Aviles

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Grant Tittle

Grant Tittle

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