Let’s Not Separate Art from the Artist
By Joylyn Gong
After hearing the praise garnered from Kanye West’s new studio album “Jesus is King”, it brought me to the thought if we should separate the work of an artist from the artist themselves. West’s career in the public eye has never been steady, as he has taken part in several controversies over the years from his perspective on the subject of slavery, claiming that Bill Cosby is innocent after multiple sexual assault accusations made against the actor, taking credit for Taylor Swift’s fame in a lyric from his track “Famous” without her knowledge, and using his platform to openly express his support for President Trump.
Artists like Kanye West, such as Woody Allen, Kevin Spacey, R. Kelly, and Harvey Weinstein have either had a history of allegations made against them or proclaimed problematic political views that twisted the truth of a painful historic period; however, many fall under the trap of dismissing those accusations and continuing to convey their appreciation for their work without much regard to who they are behind the cameras. With this kind of response, regardless if individuals in the public fully understand how unethical their actions were, it’s shadowing their behavior and accumulating more undeserved attention for the artist. By commending their role in the entertainment industry, while being informed from news outlets of the immoral character that they have built for themselves, it can be unfair and demeaning to those that they have victimized and shift farther from their issue that needs to be addressed earnestly. If they are given more economic resources to create more fame and income for themselves, it can blur what needs to be focused and the consequences that should be in place.
Celebrities are, in several cases, seen as icons and exemplars in our society today. The predicament that results from this form of thinking can be dangerous if their idol’s actions have had agonizing effects on either one person or several people. It would be perceived as if their behavior can be tolerated and free from criticism when it should be the opposite.
We Must Separate Art from the Artist (Or Cancel Culture Does More Harm than Good)
By Maggie Di Sanza
As social media platforms grow in popularity, we see more and more people being called out for problematic things said in the past, and their work suffers because of it. Now, it is incredibly necessary to call out bigotry, but the prevalence of call-out culture creates toxic online spaces that are not conducive for learning. Cancel-culture presumes that humans are either born woke and are good, or are not. It fails to recognize that people are able to, and routinely do, develop new ideologies over time and shed ones that they – and culture – has outgrown.
It is important for influential figures, artists, and celebrities to take responsibility for their past actions, but call-out culture does not five individuals being called out room to do so. Instead, the incriminating evidence equates to a person being ‘canceled’ and any apologies that they offer are dismissed. Call-out culture derives from the supposed intent of holding people accountable into a justification to insult and demean people. As we lose opportunities to educate, instead of correcting problematic behavior, we criticise and insult people who most likely acted out of ignorance. Author Chimando Ngozi Adichie made a similar argument, “Think of people as people, not as abstractions who have to conform to bloodless logic but as people – fragile, imperfect, with prides that can be wounded and hearts that can be touched.”
In no way does this mean that we have to condone actually bigoted, or hurtful actions; but we cannot respond with equally shallow actions and retorts.