Can the Art Be Separated from the Artist?

Over the years, there are situations that have occurred with artists in the music industry being arrested and jailed for illegal acts. There are times when record companies have taken an artist off their labels when he/she has been charged and/or found guilty of a crime. Record companies might remove an artist only until they think that the heat is off them to do so. However, there have been a number of musicians who have reached the top-100 charts after their offenses. This may be because people are more focused on something else and fail to remember what it is the artist has done. Situations like the one involving Chris Brown, who was charged and found guilty in 2009 of abusing his ex-girlfriend Rhianna, resulted in his being taken off his record label.  The more recent situation involving R. Kelly where he was found guilty of abuse and sex-trafficking also resulted in his being dropped from his label. Another recent situation of this nature involved Blake Jenner, an actor who abused his ex-wife for years. People do seem to forget, and sometimes they hire these people in the future. This is just shocking and appalling. A company should never rehire or hire an artist after he/she can done something so terrible.

Brown was removed from his record label when charges of assault against Rhianna were brought to light. Brown pleaded guilty in order to not serve any jail time. But when the media moved on to something new, the record label took him back. He then went on to write songs that reached the top-10, and some songs even reached number one. He ended up writing some songs that were thought to be about his relationship with Rhianna and what happened between them. Unlike Brown, R. Kelly has not been re-signed by his label because he was convicted and is currently in jail due to the abuse and sex-trafficking charges for which he was found guilty.

When talking about record labels and what they should do after a signed artist has done something bad, Timothy Waldvogal, LHS chorus teacher, said, “I think that it’s weak and caving into political pressure [when they rehire such musicians]. But I think, overall, that [re-signing the artist] was just a weak move and probably shouldn’t have been done.” When talking about Brown and how someone can still listen to his music on the radio, freshman Leah Green said, “I definitely think what [Brown] did was wrong and that he should be penalized and judged for that. However, I listen to his music, and I can like his music but not like him as a person.”

When talking about how someone could support someone like R. Kelly and listen to his music, Waldvogal said, “I think that something that an artist does should disqualify him to be supported. Just because someone makes good art doesn’t mean that they get a free pass-through life to do whatever they want to do. They still have to be held accountable the same way we are all held accountable.” Green said, “I don’t listen to [Kelly’s] songs; I listened to one song, and I think that’s it. I don’t really know him, but he is definitely not a good person. He should be penalized too, but if people like his music, they should be able to listen to his music.”

Senior Madison Murphy commented, “I think we should be able to separate art from the artist because if the person doesn’t make good choices, it doesn’t mean that their music should be looked at differently. It should be viewed for what the meaning of the song is about and not who wrote it.” Sometimes the meaning behind songs is something to think about because the song may be about the bad thing that the artist has done. Being able to separate the art from the artist is not always something people are able to do. Waldvogal commented, “The art should be part of who the artist is, and it always is if it’s good art at least. So, no, you shouldn’t completely separate the two because they are joint. I think that it shouldn’t be possible to separate the two.”

I agree that people should not separate the art from the artist because the art represents who the artist is as a person and what he/she stands for. When people still consume such artists’ work, it helps the artist make money. That is just appalling.