Words by Matthew Spence:
A Foreword (of somewhat): Recent events of Kanye West on another run of backlash on social media including but not limited to: anti-Semitic comments, and White Lives Matter propaganda merch. Adding to that, singer Rex Orange County has been accused of 6 counts of sexual assault on October 10. With these happening so close to each other, it sparked me to think about the never concluded topic of “Art vs Artist”.
Connecting with art is one of the most beautiful things we can experience as human beings. It helps us grow. It shapes us into who we are to some level. Music raises us just as much as our loved ones around us. I know that sounds exaggerated but it really is the case for many of us. Think of your favorite albums of all time, and try your best to imagine your life if you have never came across them. Try to remember life before you listened to them. Can you do that? If so, congratulations, if not, it’s understandable cause I’m in the same bucket as you. Songs that got you through the darkest periods of your life, where you felt you couldn’t make another day. Spanning memories and moments of depression, hope, joy, and heartache to finding love. Music is tied to key moments of our lives; even if you didn’t have music playing during your first kiss, you most likely have a song that reminds you of that night. It’s amazing how someone’s art can affect us for the greater. Hence why we are willing to buy CDS, Vinyl, and Cassettes and spend all day in record shops and wait all night to buy tickets once they become available. (or make mixtapes DIY, shoutout to Charlie from Perks of a Being Wallflower).
We see ourselves in them and their music hence why our bond becomes tight. Right now, someone is extremely grateful for Kid Cudi, Olivia Rodrigo, SZA, Lana Del Rey, Lupe Fiasco, Redveil, and even fucking French Montana, you name them and someone is appreciative of their music whether we’re fans or not.
However, a line needs to be drawn or at least acknowledged: is it worth the moral compromise?
Whenever an artist I like digs themselves deep (and deeper) into controversial and problematic behavior, a part of me feels horrible. While I’ve made the ability to separate the art from the artist being that as long as their music doesn’t have any lyrics and background and correlation to their personal life, then I’m ok to listen without giving financial support (aka not spending a dime….literally). However, in the back of my mind, I feel some sort of guilt. As if I’m giving a pass to someone who if it wasn’t for the art, I’d feel some type of way about them. A continuous loop that leaves me nauseous and wondering if being a fan is worth it. Cause no matter what, if I listen to their music without financial support, I feel I’m still a part of a fanbase of someone problematic. What if I cut the cord and completely stop listening to them, but yet still listen to someone who may be also problematic and I may be blind to it/may not feel directly affected? Like this act is ok, but this isn’t, “You’re letting this slide but yet not that” you know that type of shit. Morals conflict in a bloody no holds barred match.
Even when it comes to the idea: “At the end of the day, many great talented people are terrible, that shouldn’t affect their work” while that is basically true, it still feels fucked knowing that artists negatively affected people with their actions but I and/or others, but still to an extent support them by some degree.
Now, I’m not really sure what I wanted to accomplish with this article. I usually don’t write in this type of style, as if it’s a journal. I’m not trying to tell you how and why you should or shouldn’t separate the art from the artist. Nor did I feel to try to analyze the nuances and complexities of the overall idea as for sure they’re many others who have/could go through it better than I could. It was just what was on my mind. Writing felt right.
(If you’re reading this, I’m not sure if this was insightful or a waste of your time. Hopefully, you walked away with something)
-A piece by a confused fan