By Maya Shah, Beats Editor Bad people can create good things. The reality is, however, good things are often hard to support independent of bad people. This is especially true in the case of personal creation, ranging from music to writing, where certain messages are permanently conveyed through various forms of expression. Whether it is...
By Maya Shah, Beats Editor
Bad people can create good things. The reality is, however, good things are often hard to support independent of bad people. This is especially true in the case of personal creation, ranging from music to writing, where certain messages are permanently conveyed through various forms of expression. Whether it is possible to support the creator despite their creation is the real dilemma.
The widespread popularization of art from questionable artists is not a new phenomena. Although Pablo Picasso is one of the most influential artists in history, he was abusive and controlling to multiple women in his life. Arguably the most successful musician ever, Michael Jackson faced several counts of child molestation. J.K. Rowling wrote the most popular series of novels of all time despite making several comments undermining transgender struggles.
Despite these clear discretions, many continue to support all of these artists and more. Oftentimes, inaction feels like the easiest solution. Instead of actively choosing to change their patterns of consumption, people opt to silently admit the artist’s wrongdoing and continue as they were. The result is equal to that of the bystander effect — people are much less likely to admit wrongdoings.
There is also a significant monetary aspect of the situation that cannot be ignored. By continuing to support artists via streams, purchases, clicks and more, people are choosing to fund both the artist and the message they represent. In the music industry, this most commonly takes the form of royalties, which are paid to the artist per stream their song receives. Contributing to these payments promotes further creation from the artist and also supports any of their future endeavors outside of art. This makes it virtually impossible to passively consume art without also condoning the artist’s behaviors.
There is, however, a limit to be reached. Directly equating supporters of the arts to the actions of artists seems unfair. Everyone who reads “Harry Potter” is not automatically transphobic just because they chose to consume Rowling’s work. This choice more so reflects what actions people are willing to overlook rather than what ideals they themselves believe in. As a result, the issue is very individualized as each person is responsible for creating their own boundaries.
Many people argue that because the art and the artist are often heavily removed from one another, enjoying the art does not imply a condonation of the artist’s actions. This viewpoint is based upon the assumption that the art did not play a major role in the actions of the artist. While often true, this perspective fails to consider the snowball effect any support may have. Consuming an artist’s work helps prompt further creation, making it impossible to passively enjoy their content without helping spread their message. Ultimately, no universal line can be drawn about what deserves public support and what does not.
It is up to each individual to decide where they want to place their support and what ideals they hope to uplift. It is important that moving forward we think more critically about these decisions and understand the potential impacts our choices can have.
Maya Shah can be reached at [email protected]
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