Stanning Problematic Artists

One of the main controversies of today’s generation lies in the “supporting the artist vs indulging in the artists’ work” dilemma.


As the rise and influence of social media platforms continue to grow, so does the access and distribution of content airing out the problematic pasts, actions, or opinions of widely influential people. This, in tandem with the emergence of “call out culture” that marks Generation Z, makes for heated debate regarding the social and inherently financial support of problematic artists, particularly in the music industry.


One side is composed of the socially aware, and the other composed of the ignorant, indifferent, or people who are problematic themselves- (we will, for now, ignore those who are only worried about their own reputations or social perceptions, and either stay silent or “agree just to agree”).


Oddly enough, pop-culture has made a habit of cherry-picking when celebrities should or should not be held to a certain standard of character- users across all platforms, for example, a user may have much to say about the recent Jordyn-and-Tris scandal, but remains silent when the topic of Kodak’s rape charges are brought up.


Who to “cancel” and who to defend/excuse has become largely muddled by the release of enjoyable content and social influence via style, personality, or slang. In short: the famous are held to high standards only when it is convenient for our own desires for entertainment.


While being aware of this considerable lapse in judgement is a step forward, compared to general denial, it is not enough. Supporting the art of offensive artists makes every participating individual complicit in this broken system the culture currently operates in. This is a system that transforms mass attention into social and economic capital- your music streams, purchase of merchandise, or youtube views result in financial gain, climbs to the top charts, and precedents for socially accepting abusive behavior. It not only rewards said abusers, but perpetuates an environment where sexual assault could be justified and excused, where homophobia is tolerated, or where racism is blatantly ignored.

XxxTentacion has been outed as a wildly abusive partner, and violently homophobic aggressor. Yet, people across all social media platforms still idolize him for his contributions to the industry, and even his character. Kodak Black was found guilty for sexual assault, yet remains in high places of various music rankings (Apple Music charts, Billboard Top 100, etc). Sheck Wes has recently been outed for abusing, stalking, and harassing his now ex-girlfriend Justine Skye- but Mudboy still gains revenue. Tekashi 6ix9ine was found guilty for pedophilic behavior- he did not serve jail time, and managed to retain his popularity. R. Kelly is known for the sexual abuse, and incredibly egregious actions towards multiple women- people sang along and danced to “Ignition” at a party on Hoxsey (yes, the news was out at the time).

And this only mentions the individuals who have violently taken physical action- note the people who have made ignorant and detrimental remarks, who are known for acting in micro-aggressions, or who openly support problematic public figures, that are not specifically listed here as well.


What each of these people have in common is not just their belligerence or complacency, but they each remain in the limelight, and only have more success to gain. If young generations are going to truly commit to the acceptance, safety, and autonomy of the marginalized, free passes cannot exist. Being socially active in eliciting change cannot be a superficial desire. It does not solely come in the form of a retweet- what changes the culture are our choices. Consider these truths the next time you add these people to the queue.