Opinions

Separating Artists from their Art: Are We Enabling Celebrities’ Bad Behavior?

      As a country, we are without a doubt in a very politically turbulent time. It seems that this turbulence has also had a ripple effect, impacting various facets within American culture. One of the facets that has been impacted in particular is pop culture. There have various celebrities that have shared their own personal experiences with workplace harassment including Taylor Swift, Kesha, Tiffany Haddish, and many others. When we as a public audience are introduced to the idea that another public figure has done wrong or has done wrong doing against another human being, we are faced with a moral dilemma. Should we continue to consume the art of that person?

     Harvey Weinstein has been a part of many successful films including Good Will Hunting, Scream, and Kill Bill: Volume 1. There is no doubt that he is a successful filmmaker. However, I can’t help but personally feel that if I support this person’s art, I am putting money into the pocket of someone who has sexually harassed multiple women and in all honesty, that does not sit well with me and it shouldn’t for a majority of people. However, sometimes it can be the other way around as well.

      Melanie Martinez, best known for her appearance on The Voice, was also accused of sexual assault by one of her former friends. Martinez made a statement on Twitter where she stated “She never said no to what we chose to do together”, where she seems to disregard that not saying no does not mean yes.

      There are also several other instances of this occurring with other musical artists such as Chris Brown and the late rapper, XXXtentacion. Chris Brown has had a record of allegations of violence against women as recently as 2016, while a recent recording of the now passed XXXtentacion emerged where he admitted that he vowed to kill his ex-girlfriend if she “played with him”.

      There is also Dr. Luke, Kesha’s former producer.  She filed a suit claiming Dr.Luke “sexually, physically, verbally, and emotionally abused [Kesha] to the point where [she] nearly lost her life.” Dr. Luke has produce a mass assortment of songs from most of Kesha’s repertoire to songs for Katy Perry and Britney Spears. Chances are that if you have ever listened to the radio in the course of your lifetime, you have probably heard these songs or had them come up on your shuffle on Spotify or Apple Music.

      Dr.Luke, Harvey Weinstein, XXXtenacion, and Chris Brown are not the only ones either. These are only a few examples out of hundreds. There are also the less severe cases of people exerting problematic behavior and even though it may not cause direct physical harm it contributes to the culture of the privilege of ignorance. Just one that comes to mind is Kanye West and his recent remarks on TMZ, claiming that “slavery was a choice”.

      So what do we do? Do we stop consuming films and music that are created by these artists? What does it say about us if we continue to stream, buy and play their content despite being confronted with these disturbing words and acts? Some may say that we can’t possibly be conscious about everything we consume, and that may be true, but what does it mean if we continue on consuming in silence? I can’t help but think that we are contributing to the normalization of these behaviors, our actions declaring, “Yeah, but it doesn’t really matter as long as they make good music or movies”.

      Sources: Rolling Stone, BBC, TMZ

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