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The answer to this difficult question, in my opinion is: in some cases, yes. While I’m not about to give my money (directly or indirectly) to people who commit horrible crimes such as mass murderers, serial killers, pedophiles or rapists, I still enjoy music and art from people who have committed less serious crimes in their lifetime, or whose opinions I don’t agree with. It’s not fair to trash somebody as an artist because they made a mistake.

My first example of this is Terri Clark. Terri was convicted of DUI about three years ago, and I still enjoy her music. She admits she made a terrible mistake and it was an error in judgement. She might not be the most intelligent person ever or the best role model, but I still adore her; as a musician. Adding to this, we all make judgement errors in our lives. I’m not suggesting that driving drunk is okay, but everybody deserves to be given a chance. When the crime committed by the celebrity is the result of an error in judgement, it should be forgiven.

Another example of this theory is the Dixie Chicks’ comment about George Bush. At a London concert date in March, Natalie Maines (the lead vocalist) said “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the president of the United States is also from Texas.” This statement destroyed her career. The Chicks’ then current album Home dropped off the billboard charts. There were also CD burnings and many radio stations refused to play their songs. In Internet message boards, the Chicks were dubbed ‘traitors’, ‘Saddam’s Angels’, ‘Tree-hugging b*tches’ and ‘Dixie Sluts’. Maines has apologized several times for the comment. Emily Robison, also of the Dixie Chicks, is quoted as saying “If you can’t speak up and question your government, than you are just mindless followers.” As well, I know (and/or have visited websites from) many republicans and Bush supporters (including my dad) who still like, or even adore The Dixie Chicks’ music. It’s simply irrational to ban somebody from the radio just for exercising their 1st amendment right to free speech.

My last example of this is Toby Keith. Toby seems to be sexist and racist in many of his beliefs and even some of his songs, but I still adore one of his songs, “We were in love.” It makes me cry every time I hear it.

Still, there are some people who I will not give my money to. A prime example of this is Michael Jackson. Michael has been confronted with several claims of child abuse. I used to love his music- until I found out that several children who slept over at his ranch put forth allegations of child abuse. I’m sorry, but I’m not about to give my money to a pedophile.

The bottom line is, we should separate the artist from the art- but only in certain cases. It all goes on a case-by-case basis.




Comments

The following comments are for "Should we separate the artist from the art?"
by DCbabe

One of the basic problems
with your comment about separating art and artist is that often the artists do not. The Dixie Chicks is a good example. Natalie didn't just make her comment to someone she was speaking to or at a political rally she was invited to attend. She was at a concert where she was supposed to be singing. She wasn't there to throw out her political opinions. But living large and playing on her celebrity, she thought she could say whatever she wanted without repercussions. The people who took her off the radio, who no longer buy her albums or who censured her remarks also have the right to express their opinions of what she said, in the most expressive way they have - with their support and their money. And for years, Jane Fonda was considered suspect, for the same reasons. Neither her remarks nor Natalie's would have received nearly as much negative response had they been spoken at home rather than to the neighbors. There are always consequences to our actions - and our speech. Natalie should have thought about those consequences before she said what she did.

Very often, celebrities feel their opinions are somehow more valuable, more valid or more respectable than those of us less luminous than they. I am offended by that attitude.

( Posted by: Cyn [Member] On: October 30, 2004 )

Rights of the individual
I think it's important for celebrities to speak out about what they're passionate about. As individuals in the public spotlight, they have power to effect real change. I'd find it irresponsible of someone with the national ear not to use it to try and make a positive difference in the world.

Individuals have to be careful to seperate the art from the artist though. You have to understand that someone who can belt out a really great tune probably shouldn't be trusted with foreign or domestic policy making. I wouldn't let Gene Simmons reform health care, no matter how many power chords he played.

Musicians sell image as well as music. If comments made by a performer shatters the illusions that are making a consumer purchase their product, they have to be ready to feel the consequences economically. If I was a Country and Western singer, I would definately think twice before speaking out against Bush. lol

Know thy target audience!

( Posted by: Capulet [Member] On: October 30, 2004 )

A different angle
What about when the vast majority of an artist's work is morally repugnant to you but say a quarter of it is sheer genius?

Ian Stuart is a case in point. Most of his music is savagely anti-semetic and outright racist. He glorifies Hitler and Nazism and advocates a number of nasties on those who aren't like him. He is also brilliant.

His purely patriotic songs rank among the best of the famous folk poets the world around. He has that sensitive nostalgia that makes us listen to Leonard Cohen, Woody Guthrie or (once we notice him) Bob Schneider. They are beautiful and poignant and stand in stark counter-point to the evil of the rest.

Should we not only seperate the art from the artist but the individual work of art from the rest of the collection.

I may likely have detested Ian Stuart had I met him. I do detest his politics. But some of his songs have moved me to tears and I think that deserves respect.

I just thought that might bear some consideration.

May you never thirst

Bliss

( Posted by: Enforced Bliss [Member] On: October 30, 2004 )

Support for the art over the artists
I think you bring up an important question, and I think DC already answers that issue quite nicely.

When you're dealing with someone who's work is of a hateful or destructive nature, something considered vile in almost any circle, then as a whole you should reject their work where it will acknowledge or prove positive to the individual.

That being said, I would never wish to encourage or support anyone who's goals are hateful, or morally corrupt. I'd never buy any of their hateful material, and would be reluctant to purchase any of their "mainstream" material even if packaged seperately.

Financially supporting them through their positive works still contributes to their ability to produce the negative works. I would not want to free someone up sufficiently that they could devote their life to generating hate rather than looking for their next meal.

( Posted by: capulet [Member] On: October 30, 2004 )

I agree with capulet on this last question.
If buying an artist's mainstream works makes them more able to make vile, immoral, inflammatory or otherwise generally objectionable material, then I'm not willing to provide that support. In purchasing the "good stuff", you are also provide support for the "bad stuff". Do you really want to do that? I certainly don't. Cyn

( Posted by: Cyn [Member] On: October 31, 2004 )

my lil two cents...
This isn't about the people vs. celibrities. They're there to please us, that's their jobs. They are entertainers! That said, it's up to us to buy what pleases us, and reject what we don't like.
That's not to say you can't boycott a group you dislike. I'm not a fan of Eminem, only because his music doesn't appeal to me, and have avoided his music for years. However, he recently came out with an anti-Bush song, and I may buy it as a single. That same song will probably have someone else avoid his music in the future.
However, entertainers have just as much right to say what they want as we do to ignore them.

That said, I suppose I DO seperate the artist frmo the art. Musicians have come out with a CD I love, and their next has been terrible, same as actors.

Another thing that burned me up was Capulate's closing statement, particularly,
"I would not want to free someone up sufficiently that they could devote their life to generating hate rather than looking for their next meal."
Do you think anyone's chief goal is to spread hate simply for its sake? No, certainly not. Each of these people do what they believe is right, even Hitler or Osama, for example. This may create some controversy, but it's my opinion and my point is I have every right to say this as anyone else:
Both Hitler and bin Ladin did what they believed was the right thing to do. While I certainly don't, and I think it's an atrocity what each of them was able to achieve, Hitler wasn't creating a World War because he was an insane madman who loved chaos. He thought he was "cleansing" the earth, and he did what he believed was right. I believe I digress (although many other people did too), but my point is that people have the right to do what they please, including artists. The Dixie Chicks did what they did and face the consequences of enough people offended. And if people responded differently, the Dixie Chicks' careers would be thriving and it would be a moot point.

Back to the original post, people can do what they want, I'll look at the art, not the artist.

( Posted by: Ilan Bouchard [Member] On: November 1, 2004 )

Art as fashion....
Art is and has always been down to fashion first anf foremost. Throughout history whether it be lack of confidence in new materials or more blaltant forms of fashion, art has always reflected it.

I tend to hate art for arts sake, I often look at wonderfully composed pieces of poetry but absolutely hate them for there lack of relevance to me, but does that mean the artist isn't relevant?

I don't agree with Capulet with regards to hateful or immoral material, because it in fact is one of the few parts of the art world where you cannot seperate the artist from their art.

I don't think on the whole you can totally forget the artist from the art, it's a bit too personal isn't it?

( Posted by: londongrey [Member] On: November 1, 2004 )





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