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5 Reasons Why “Separating Art from the Artist” is Harmful

Lately, many artists, actors, and other creative individuals have been exposed as perpetrators of sexual, domestic, pedophilic, or homophobic violence. In light of the recent documentary, “Surviving R. Kelly” which is based on singer R. Kelly’s abuse of numerous women, I ask, is it appropriate to continue to support violent artists in the name of ‘separating the art from the artist?’ Here are some ways in which doing this can be very harmful.

1. It funds them

Whether it’s through streaming or buying their music, watching their movies, or supporting other artistic creations, supporting a perpetrator’s art lets the artist or actor profit off of their work and lets them continue to thrive in their careers. This is harmful, as it enables them to earn more even though they should be facing the consequences of their actions. For example, the artist known as 6ix9ine had accusations of pedophilia and rape against him before he rose to fame. This instance shows an example where an artist quickly gained success despite severe accusations against him.

2. It allows them to continue to thrive in their careers

By supporting their work, the artist or actor directly profits not only financially, but through awards and other privileges that should go towards people who are more deserving. For instance, Casey Affleck, someone who previously had two sexual harassment allegations against him won the Best Actor award at the Oscars in 2017. Despite his allegations, he was still rewarded with the honor of receiving a prestigious award. Additionally, Brie Larson, an actress who advocates for sexual assault survivors had presented the award to him. She had noticeably decided not to clap for him. This small yet impactful action was brave and made a statement about the cause. Based on the severity of certain allegations, artists or actors who have a history of violence should not be rewarded for their creative work and should face the repercussions.

3. It enables them and gives them a platform

When artists and actors with abuse allegations still receive support from their fans, this helps them to continue to have a platform, and therefore power, through their large fanbase. This enables them and allows them to further abuse their power. Supporting these perpetrators helps them financially, in their careers, and through their relevancy. For example, Chris Brown, who has a history of domestic violence and abuse still has a huge fanbase despite the proof of the violence he has done to his previous partners. He still thrives in the music industry and has shown violent behavior on more than one occasion. In giving abusive artists a platform and a fanbase, they rely on their fans to defend them and let them abuse their power without fear of persecution.

4. It negatively influences their audience

The fans that still support the artist may be negatively influenced through their actions. They can impose their harmful ideas upon the fans and may teach them to believe that their crimes are acceptable and that if they abuse someone, they can get away with is as well. This is especially dangerous to easily influenced fans who support the artist, and by letting them have a huge platform can lead their following to create an unsafe environment to others as well.

5. It silences other victims

Many victims avoid sharing their story because they know that their perpetrator has power and support, but it is time we let them know that we will no longer let them get away with it. By not supporting these individuals, we can create a safer environment for victims of these crimes. Society should show their stance and side with the victims so that they feel safe, and so other individuals who face similar things at the hands of powerful people can also come forward. This will help create a safer environment where victims can share their stories and get the justice they deserve, and consequences will be given to those who deserve it.

Lastly, no music or work of art is worth enough to ignore the crimes of an artist who has committed violent acts against others, especially when there is an overwhelming amount of evidence provided, such as what was shown in “Surviving R. Kelly”. Although it may seem like one person not streaming or supporting an artist or actor with serious accusations is doing very little, it just takes one person or one act of initiative to raise awareness and further an important cause.

It is time perpetrators of violence face consequences for their harmful actions, no matter how talented they are. There are plenty of artists to support that do not abuse their power and are much more deserving of society’s support. This will also help us enjoy music and entertainment free of a guilty conscience. It’s time we make sure that artists who are violent and abusive face consequences.

hamdah shabbir

Queen's U '20

Hamdah is a fourth year English student at Queen's University. She loves painting, music, photography, and of course, writing. She hopes to publish her own novels someday in the future.
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