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Like many human beings, there will be a time when we’re going through rough times and we will need to express our feelings. This may be verbally or physically. In other words we express our emotions through art. Art is considered the process or product of arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions. It’s a diverse range of human activities, creations and ways of expression, including music, literature, film, sculpture and paintings. The personal functions of art are often created out of a need for self expression. The artist might have wanted to communicate a thought or point to the viewer. A piece might have just been meant to entertain others. An artist mistakes or lifestyle shouldn’t interfere with their art. Judging and artist by their actions shouldn’t interfere with their art because what we praise is their art not how morally good they are.
R&B artist Chris Brown was arrested in February 2009 after bruising his girlfriend Rihanna. As it was mentioned in the article “Chris Brown discusses abuse of Rihanna: ‘I felt like a monster’.” his career was slowly going downhill “ With radio stations refusing to play his songs”. Brown was ashamed of his actions. He would look back at the pictures of Rihanna’s face bruised up and would say that he felt like a monster. Brown was in disbelieve with his actions. He states, “I look back at that picture and I’m like ‘That’s not me bro. I hate it to this day. That’s going to haunt me forever’”. Brown was held accountable for his actions. He was arrested, served five years of probation and a community service order for the assault. After the incident between Chris Brown and Rihanna there hasn’t been another incident of assault that involves Brown, which proves that artists also make mistakes. It was a horrible mistake. Although Brown’s popularity could’ve been an advantage for this incident to be “thrown under the rug”, he was still held accountable for it. One mistake or accusation shouldn’t interfere with his art. Brown released a couple of hits and expressed how ashamed and hurt he was because of his actions.
The article “Chris Brown’s 20 Biggest Billboard Hits” informs us that since Brown’s incident in 2009, he returned onto the scene with the song “I can transform ya”, ‘becoming an instant to Brown’s winning signature elements: throbbing production, notable guest feature Lil Wayne and jovial lyrics’”. Brown has had other bigger hits since his returning scene with “I can transform ya”. If Brown fans can forget about his personal mistakes and still support him, making his songs become biggest billboard hits, why should his art not be supported?. With Browns incident, It’s been proven that even though an artist can slip up, his supporters didn’t let his personal mistakes interfere with his art. There are many songs that talk about drugs, scamming and killing. There are famous people with cases of assault, insest, paying for sex and pedofiles. However, that doesn’t take away how good their art is. Charles McGrath argues that “ In the case of the artist, badness or goodness is a moral quality or judgment; in the case of his art goodness and badness are terms of aesthetic merit, to which morality does not apply”. In other words he’s stating that there can be a separation between the art and the artist.
Artists are more valued through their art than their actions. In “Blurred Lines”, Roxane Gay introduces us to Robin Thicke’s anthem of summer 2013 ‘Blurred Lines’. Gay interprets that Thicke talks about giving a good girl what she wants, “what she really wants is buck wild sex even if she can’t come out and admit it”. Gay also points out that critics voice their concerns about the sexual violence in the song. For example, in the “Blurred Lines” music video, you’ll see girls naked walking around. She also points out Robin Thicke’s single “Give it 2 U” where he tells women what he has for them. Although this is the sort of message that the artist sends, we dont worry about what they actually say. The focus is more on the beat and how catchy the song is. Gay states,” As much as it pains me to admit, I like these songs. They make me want to dance. I want to sing along. They are delightful pop confections”. Even though these artists may give out a vulgar message, we throw it under the rug and still listen to their music because it’s catchy, even though we may not agree with what they are saying, showing that what weighs more is the artists work rather than the artist himself.
While some argue that we can separate the art from the artist, others argue that we can’t separate the art from the artist. This is because they believe that the artists should be punished for their actions. Many feel that by ignoring the artist, you are sidelining their victim. In a sense we put the artist on a pedestal for what they’ve done and ignore it while their victims still suffer from the pain and seeing that nothing has been done in their defense. Supporting an artist after they’ve committed a crime funds their career in certain ways. An extra view, comment or subscribe empowers them more. They are in more control of their decisions than they are of their abilities. The artist is technically still being supported if we listen and/ or appreciate the art they created. A criminal is basically being rewarded through their art after harming others knowing that they are able to get away with it. Famous people know their value in society and know of the power that they have. If artist’s themselves don’t separate themselves from their art, why should we?
Artists such as Picasso have put their life into their work. Hannah Jane Parkinson argues that the artist should take responsibility and suffer for their actions. She states,”The best solution I can come up with in regard to contemporary transgressors, following the example of most judicial systems, is to take remorse into account.” no matter their fame they should be held accountable for their actions. Parkinson stated that she wouldn’t be inclined to forgiving Spacey and support his work in the future. This is because she feels that he should suffer for his predatory behaviour. Although I concede that we can’t separate the art from the artist, I still insist that we can separate the art from the artist. After Chris Brown uprising from his downfall from the assault with Rihanna, he was still able to release hits that became Billboards 20 biggest hits. This shows that even though millions of people were aware of his crime, they sort of brushed it away and focused on his music. Being able to make Billboards biggest hits means that the artist is among the higher ranked performers among the specific metric used to compile the chart, meaning that Chris Brown was still popular after his uprising from the incident. Roxane Gay demonstrated that no matter how vulgar the artists message is, their songs are still played and supported because they are catchy.
An artist’s passion shouldn’t be taken in account for their actions. Morality does not apply to the goodness or badness of the art. Bad people make good art and good people can make bad art. Their art may be meaningless but it an also show an expression of how they feel. Their product is what really weighs more than the actual artist himself. The artist’s is what’s being praised not the artist. A mistake shouldn’t determine whether they should still be supported or not.
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