small rant, trigger warning: discussion of abuse and rape…Can art be separated from the artist?

I haven’t written much in the way of rants since I started this blog, I’ve mostly been using it as a creative outlet. I have been thinking a lot recently about the issue of separation of art from the artist, especially with the growing number of pedophiles, abusers and rapists spawning from actors, musicians and directors many of us love. This seems to be a fairly contentious issue for people, one of the first heated debates I had with my partner centered around if it was okay to enjoy the works Roman Polanski. For the few of you who possibly don’t know, Polanski drugged and raped a 13 year old girl and later fled the US to avoid serving his sentence, he now resides in France where he is protected and still has the luxury of making movies and earning millions of dollars. Personally, I enjoy Rosemary’s baby, but I have boycotted all of his future films. At what point is enjoying a piece of art contributing to the misery of victims and condoning the actions of abusers? At which point do we condone reprehensible actions to excuse ourselves for liking art?

Another more modern case in point is Chris Brown and Rhianna. I personally am not a fan of either of their music so this is coming from a completely neutral place, but when Brown beat Rhianna in 2009 I was disgusted, as someone who never bought Brown’s records in the first place I never had to boycott anything, but I was astounded to hear comments saying such things as Rhianna probably deserved it, that is probably wasn’t as bad as people where making out and even a colleague saying he was so sexy that they’d let him beat her any day! subsequently Rhianna was shamed by the media and nothing was done, no charges pressed and Brown even got a lovely tattoo of a beaten face on his neck.

I think from these two points my stance is fairly obvious at this point…But I guess I’ll elaborate anyway. I feel that in continuing to support artists who abuse people as they do we as consumers are saying their actions are OK. At the end of the day there are people as talented as Polanski and Brown who don’t rape children or beat their partners who haven’t been given a chance. I always wonder what the victims must be feeling when they read news stories concerning their attack and people harping on about the abuser’s awards and genius, then the subsequent fans defending their actions. A good example would be Michael Jackson. If the overwhelming amount of evidence that the kids he abused was given about a normal person, there wouldn’t be much doubt of guilt. I remember as a kid watching the trial and Jackson doing a big dance in front of crowds before entering the courthouse, he didn’t take it seriously at all because he knew he wouldn’t be punished, how would his victim have felt?

A depressing exercise to do is to read up on which actors have beaten their wives, prostitutes or raped people. Many were a surprise to me, it shocks me that this information isn’t more widely spread and it shocks me how much people are willing to turn a blind eye to and still support. My own personal answer to my own question is no, while reward exists for art in the way of either profit or glory we cannot separate the person from the product, while it is still possible for Polanski to create amazing films and Brown to create amazing music neither should be supported for their craft. We should stop idolizing abusers and instead invest in new talent, society learns from it’s leaders after all and we should construct a more positive popular culture. I would genuinely like to hear people’s opinions on this issue, I realize many people will not agree.

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4 thoughts on “small rant, trigger warning: discussion of abuse and rape…Can art be separated from the artist?

  1. No not trying to wind you up. Say someone like your boyfriend was really annoying you like asking you to do the dishes when you done them the last three nights and tidy the dirty washing off the floor even when it is theirs, are you telling me you wouldn’t consider giving your s/o a little dig in the ribs?

    • I honestly wouldn’t. I’ve hit a partner once, it was a punch to the forehead after finding out he’d been cheating on me, it wasn’t hard and it wasn’t really supposed to hurt but I still did it. I apologised for hours afterwards, he wasn’t particularly bothered by it at all actually but I still felt awful, and rightly so. There is no reason at all that anyone (including your partner) should be hit. abuse is abuse, I’ve never hit anyone since and never would again except in self defence. Obviously I realise you’re trolling but it’s pretty disingenuous comparing Chris Brown’s behaviour to a dig in the ribs anyway. Please feel free to divulge in what circumstance you’d be fine with someone smashing your mum’s/sister’s or any of your female friends faces into a window? Or repeatedly punching them in the face until they choked on their own blood?

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