In Which We Try to Separate the Art from the Artist

20. Nov. 2017

Thoughts on current affairs: harassment, lying, cover-ups, misdeeds and general douchery.

  1. Artists are people.
  2. People see art as both a commodity for consumption and a mystical power.
  3. Artists are supposed to be the stewards of said mystical power and be better than the people they sell their art to.
  4. People still want a say in what their dollar buys, up to and including the private lives of the artists.
These ideas are all in a jumbled clash at the moment, causing a metric ton of butt-hurt.

As I pen these thoughts, I'm listening to an album by a band I fell in love with a few years ago. The music, the lyrics, the pageantry, the entire message and aesthetic hooked me deep. Earlier this year I came across some information about the leader of the band, how he'd supposedly screwed some former members, and that the whole thing was going to court.

Nay, good sir, whose voice and visage gave me such joy, whose message I took to heart, say it ain't so!

I had tickets to see them, purchased months before I heard the news. I did not attend the show. (There were some other mundane reasons for not going, as the show was many hours' drive from home, but the funk I was in didn't help.)

By the gods, what a drama-queen attitude. I missed a damn good show, for what? To wallow in perceived slight and righteous indignation? Sounds like a fun weekend.

As allegations of wrongdoing bloom across the fields of politics and popular entertainment like so many tenacious dandelions, and ridiculous boycotts follow, I sit back, and listen to my once and future favorite band. The songs are still wonderful. The beat still hooks me, and I tap my fingers on the desk. Whether the allegations are true or not, whether the man behind the music is an ass-hat or not, I love these albums.

I read an article by a blogger whom I've followed and admired for nearly a decade now, who took the attitude that creatives should use their platforms to make political statements, that it falls to those who are in the public eye to champion causes and raise awareness, going so far as to insinuate that failure to do so was gross irresponsibility. In effect, she advocates against any separation between the art and the artist. I think that's a mistake.

While I am ALL FOR artists expressing themselves in any way they see fit, up to and including unpopular stands on sensitive issues, to insist on that level of engagement from every creative person would ultimately hurt us all.

See 1. above, and tack on the addendum that 'No One is Perfect.' If every piece of art you encountered throughout your day came with a Nutrition Facts tag listing the creators' personal dating history, legislative standing positions, and police record, how much less art would you then enjoy? Basic math suggests that the number would be pretty damn low. But we're already doing that, aren't we? Social media and the constant churning of talk shows and news outlets feed us more than we can stomach about the goings-on of celebrity lives.

Should people be held accountable for breaking the law? Of course. Should people be held accountable in the court of public opinion before they can be tried by a jury of their peers? Getting harder to find 12 people who haven't heard any details of the case nowadays, isn't it?

When we see the mighty stumble, it can feel like a betrayal, for sure. When we can say, "I'VE never done THAT," it turns the screw, makes the sin we perceive a worse offense for having been committed by our better. But oh, dear reader, turn your face into the breeze of sweet realization that NO ONE is better; friend, take a deep breath of that. NO ONE IS BETTER. We're all flawed and flailing, reaching toward some light source or other. The tragedy is mistaking the artist for that light source, instead of the art itself.

EyeSpewArt - a doodle by Kim Breeding-Mercer
EyeSpewArt - a doodle by Kim Breeding-Mercer

Kim Breeding-Mercer writes about the bad behavior of artists and its relationship to consumption and consumer expectations. Consumers of art hold artists to high standards and judge harshly. Presumed guilty out of the gate across all media, the butt-hurt leads us on a fast track to mob rule.

© Kim Breeding-Mercer / OgFOMK ArTS -- 2017 All Rights Reserved. - Editorial - "In Which We Try to Separate the Art from the Artist

#OgFOMK #KimBreddingMercer #Celebrity  #Art #Artists #Behavior #MeToo #SexualHarassment #Lying #Cover-ups #Misdeeds #Editorial #Journal #Privacy



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