“Allegedly” I’m Horrible But Society Gives Me A Pass Because Of My Art…

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So, once again society sends us the message: We can be very problematic individuals. However our sins can and will be forgotten if we make art. Why is this still a discussion? Why do we allow this enabling? Is the importance of entertainment so great that we should excuse anything?

This conversation has come up again recently due to Spotify and their attempts at addressing problematic artists. Of particular focus were R Kelly and XXXtentacion, two men whom are accused abusers.

Note: I have to mention they’ve been accused and not convicted. Although true, it doesn’t really matters. But their fans and enablers use this as an excuse.

May 10th - Spotify Announces New Hate Content and Hateful Conduct Public Policy

“However, we do not tolerate hate content on Spotify — content that expressly and principally promotes, advocates, or incites hatred or violence against a group or individual based on characteristics, including, race, religion, gender identity, sex, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, veteran status, or disability.”- Spotify

The music platform in short started a noble endeavor however what they faced was backlash. From censorship claims, to concern voiced from the likes of Kendrick Lamar came and so forth. So within two week they had to adjust their policy. XXXtentacion’s music is back on playlists but R Kelly’s isn’t. His music is still on the platform.

Now my point surrounding all of this: When will we stop giving abusers a pass? These two are still profiting for their work despite the questionable aspects of their character and music by extension. This doesn’t just apply to them but many whom are in similar circumstances.

Note: Problematic artists certainly aren’t just people of color. Famous white artists also belong in this conversation.

Many people will excuse the most damning of behaviors for the sake of entertainment. Why? I’m not sure but those discussions bring forth a lot of points. The primary one being “I separate the art from the artists”.

I’ll focus on separating the art from the artist. The argument is that the value of art isn’t beholden to the creator’s character and society’s conventions. It adds value to the respective genre and fans. I admit this is a very intricate subject at hand.

The problem with this is that it’s ultimately enabling.

Let’s examine R Kelly. His allegations date back as far as 1994. Up until now he’s had numerous accusations and allegations. Now he’s never been convicted. However, with nearly 25 years of preying on young/under-aged women why is he still relevant?

Well look no further than his fans. He makes great music and he hasn’t been convicted. I’m positive you will find someone mention how they will dance to Ignition at a party without a second thought. So he reaps the benefits of stardom and continues to gain profit from his ongoing career.

As people appreciate the art, that fuels the creator to have access and the ability to continue their problematic behaviors. Again why is that ok? Because he hasn’t been convicted? Despite decades of disturbing allegations? There’s also a point where the benefit of the doubt can only go so far. One accusation is enough as is.

Also when you claim “I separate art from artists” maybe there’s an admission that you can’t accept a person you hold in regard is wrong. If someone I admire is wrong then that means I’m wrong as a person. It’s human to avoid feeling wrong. Whom wants to be wrong?

Perhaps there’s possibly a lack of empathy? It’s unfortunate but many can’t process what’s wrong unless it affects them on some level. This being said, if an artists’ harm affected you in some form, the notion of separating their art from themselves wouldn’t hold water.

Maybe you don’t agree with anything I’ve mentioned or expressed. I’ve been told that I don’t understand how art works or it’s true function. Sure you can keep make that argument. Maybe I don’t understand how art functions or it’s respective fandoms.

What I do understand is clear; I won’t be supporting a morally bankrupt human being. I can only hope you don’t either or at least begin to question why you do.

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I bat for PoCs, marginalized, equality, inclusion & geekdom. I'm warming the bench until coach subs me in. https://linktr.ee/jeffreyrousseau

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