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Fahckmylife's Blog
Crap adult, OK human.

Separating the artist from the art – should we have to do that? How can we do that? Can I even watch TV anymore?

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We all know that we like problematic things and that not everything is black and white.  Sometimes, it’s hard to tell if satire is proper satire or actually just punching down.  Sometimes, it seems vague enough to appeal to those on either side of the binary of good vs. evil and leaves everyone comfortable enough with their own views.

But what about when artists are confirmed as being complete dickheads?  What about when people whose work we loved actually are confirmed as predatory, creepy, unsavoury or just downright evil?  What about when it is clear that a celebrity or artist that we hold dear has actually done something terrible?  How can we reconcile that?

There are two major things that I consider here when I think about feeling disappointed and sometimes angry, particularly in this wake of sexual harassment and assault outings, about people, mostly men, standing accused of all these things.  The first is that being a celebrity is about creating a persona, a public image and projecting a marketable product into the real world – we don’t know them, we never will and what we see of them is hardly the truth.  Secondly, most celebrities live in a world that is completely distinct and separate to ours, where with money and power (and yeah a lot of the time a cock) you can do whatever the fuck you want.  Whatever. You.  Want.  Not that that is an excuse of any sort – but can literally imagine the possibilities of this and the new set of rules that apply to these people.

I have found people problematic before (Jesus Christ even in real life – when have I not found people problematic) in what they’ve said and alluded to, but literally everything people say these days can be taken out of context.  We are allowed to disagree with people on their opinions.  We are allowed to be disappointed that someone is racist or sexist or whatever, and I think that is much more clean cut.  I think in this instance, I can separate someone’s attitude or words from their artistry – again this is dependent on the level of what they said but actions on the other hand, or putting those thinly masked ideologies into action is a totally different ballgame.  To be fair, with the exception of a few bands I never ever read interviews because inevitably something will come up, or there will be some controversy or something will sully my interaction with what I enjoy that they produce.

What bothers me is the fact that there is a load of men I who slept with children (mostly little girls) during the 70’s and 80’s and that this was and still is considered kinda OK.  I mean I would’ve quite liked David Bowie and I mean I still watch Labyrinth but it just kinda freaks me out.  If I could properly separate the artist from the actions – this wouldn’t be an issue.  But I literally can’t.  Perhaps, initially I’ve thought it was OK but when I look back at 14-year-old me with a 20-year-old boyfriend now, I can’t help but think about what a creepy and abusive dynamic that was.  I don’t understand how many of those musicians who did this and it was publicly known as excused from it – even with ‘everybody was doing it at the time’ to counter it.  I don’t care what the legal age was at the time – I don’t care whether the girls were willing – they were still children, and they weren’t children fucking other children – they were fucking adults.  There is legitimately no excuse for this unless the life expectancy of a person during this period was 20.  End of.

I’ll be honest I’m weirded out by the Johnny Depp thing too.  Mostly by the fact that people just didn’t really want to believe that he would do such a thing.  It’s been proven.  He settled.  Amber Heard did the right thing and there is still evidence surfacing to prove he did do it.  I find it ridiculous that no matter what she did people, both men and women, just didn’t want to hear anything said against their precious Johnny, even with so much refuting it.  Look people, resolve how you feel about him being guilty yourself, but he is guilty and you go to in these situations should not be to look for fault with the victim, mostly because she is unknown.  Believe people, especially when they have evidence and don’t hold celebrities up as infallible gods. They’re all human, with loads of money and ego – so if anything they have the potential to be WAY worse than us normies.  Johnny doesn’t well with me now, but I know I’ve forgiven people in my own life for worse things as well – so this whole thing confuses the fuck out of me.  Edward Scissorhands will always be one of my favourite films but as long as I don’t think about Johnny Depp as a person I think I can still enjoy it.  The thing is I don’t know him but I think it’s weird that everyone keeps forgetting what he’s pretty publicly done.  So, I’m not sure that I can enjoy him anymore and probably won’t support his work financially in the future.

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Mel Gibson is soooo problematic as well but man he directs a great film.  I’ve decided that I do not want to contribute to his wealth though and ‘borrow’ his films.  I can enjoy his films as long as I don’t think about what he’s done and said.  I can live with that.  To be honest, though I’d rather not be told that he directed a film I just watched until afterwards, but I’m definitely not paying for it.   I cannot support someone openly being abusive and hurt others.  I will not maintain their horrible destructive lifestyle by providing them with the funds to do so (no matter how minimal) And I can’t erase all the Lethal Weapon films from my childhood, and to be honest, I don’t want to.

Crystal Castles have also come to light in this respect as well – one of my favourite bands – where Ethan who is 10 years older than Alice – allegedly abused her for years.  The two are adamant that the other is wrong, and whilst I do tend to believe her more, it’s kinda tainted all the lovely music that they made together – to know that potentially abuse was a serious backdrop to their music.  I will continue to listen to them, but without her, in the band, I don’t like them as much, because that was a part of my life that I do not want to remove – although it is slightly tinged with sadness.  And the thing is even though they are both fighting now – I would rather neither of them was right because the shit Alice described was horrible.

Anyway, with all the Weinstein shit that has come to the surface over the last while I was just trying to wrap my head around all these allegations and then figure out how I can reconcile how I feel with actually being able to watch anything ever again.  Everyone knew this about Weinstein, it seemed, but the thing is because he’s a gross looking man it seems easier to demonise him.  It gets more complicated when it’s a good looking talented artist – like many of the other constant names that are getting flung up – and people start to think that they can defend them.  This was all ignored before this Weinstein thing and the shift and onslaught have been glorious to watch – but it’s all so sudden and way worse than I had hoped.  I wonder how this will end.  Are there any nice normal famous menz?  Will Charlie Day, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Adam Driver be pricks too?  What if there is literally nobody who is innocent? I really hope I can continue to watch TV without saying ‘rapist’ in my head 20 times, but seriously, that’ll really ruin my TV enjoyment.  I mean will they continue to get work?  I mean Charlie Sheen still gets work, right?  After all the shit he’s done.

So in a nutshell, if someone still gets work despite being a dick I stop financially supporting them even if I do like their art.  However, if they bother me that much I possibly won’t be able to enjoy their stuff anymore.  Sometimes, I can look back on the nostalgia that they offered me but mostly it is tainted.  I cannot erase their impact on my formative years though, nor do I want to.  I guess the question isn’t really whether it’s OK to separate art from the artist, but whether you actually can.  Look, I know there are more important things to consider than this tiny aspect – but I feel it needs to be looked at a bit.  I don’t have the answers though – I’m just talking about how I deal with it.

 

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2 Responses to “Separating the artist from the art – should we have to do that? How can we do that? Can I even watch TV anymore?”

  1. “One ought to be able to hold in one’s head simultaneously the two facts that Dalí is a good draughtsman and a disgusting human being”. – George Orwell.

    The only way to appreciate any art is to excise the individual from the equation. Let’s face it, people are for the most part awful, vain & contemptible. They have terrible ideas and to excuse their cowardice they commit atrocious acts.

    However, I can’t deny the beauty and the grace in Yeates’ or Eliot’s verse because of their fascists, anti-Semitic political convictions, even though these views are antithetical to my own. Similarly, I will not condemn the entire catalog of an artist work for any reprehensible impulses they indulged in the past or may perpetuate in future.

    By nature art is transcendent. If artists allow base nature to pollute their work then what they create is either artful propaganda or artifice. It’s those people who prostitute art for personal gain that deserve condemnation.

    • Hey sorry for the late reply!
      I like your perspective although I think from a personal point of view knowing these things about an artist changes my relationship with their art. For me the two are intertwined to be honest and depending on what it is they’ve done it can have a massive impact on how I relate to their product and support their lifestyle. I’d love to be super objective about things but I just can’t do it. I mean, I know Jimmy Saville wasn’t really an artist but could I watch his stuff knowing the things he did without it changing everything? Nope. Again, I guess it depends on what they did to be honest.


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