Separating the Art from the Artist


Courtesy of Evan Vucci

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Evan Vucci/AP/REX/Shutterstock (9927891g) Rapper Kanye West is seated while meeting with President Donald Trump and others in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington Trump Kanye West, Washington, USA – 11 Oct 2018

Amanda Chung, Photojournalist

Kanye West has been making headlines these past couple of weeks, surprising everyone with his crazy rants and unpredictable political statements. His recent appearances on SNL and in the White House only further confused his fans. Is Kanye really a hardcore Trump supporter now? Many of his liberal followers immediately lost all respect for the rapper, but many still listen to his music to this day, which brings up a broader, more elevated question:

Should we separate the art from the artist?

There’s no denying that Kanye is a musical genius; however, just because he is blessed with the knowledge of music, it does not mean that he is blessed with the knowledge of politics. Obviously, it is not rational to take political advice or learn about politics from a musician. However, this particular rapper has a huge platform, one that he has been using to say things like “slavery was a choice” and “abolish the 13th amendment.” Even if Kanye had good intentions and didn’t actually mean what he said, his reckless words still had a negative impact, further pushing stigmas that make people look down on the black community. So what should someone from the community do in this situation? Should they stop downloading and listening to his music to take his platform away from him, or is it okay for them to continue supporting his work?

After the rise of the Me Too Movement, Bill Cosby has been charged, tried, and sent to jail for the horrible acts of sexual assault he committed throughout his career. To many Americans, The Cosby Show was revolutionary; it was one of the most popular shows of its time, and showcased an African American family during a time where minorities were vastly underrepresented, and misrepresented, on television. It was hard for many people who connected with the show to accept the fact that Cosby was not a good man. Would a fan of his be able to watch his shows without thinking about the women he hurt in the past? Should they still watch his show even after learning the truth?

Following rapper XXXtentacion’s murder, fans took to social media to mourn his death. Within hours, online fights and debates broke out due to dissenting opinions regarding X’s character. On one hand, fans defended him despite the fact that he was charged with beating a pregnant woman. Others on the opposing side think that since he was a horrible person while he was living, he shouldn’t automatically gain respect and sympathy because of his death. His confession tape was released a couple of days ago, where he admitted to stabbing multiple people, beating a pregnant woman, and threatening to kill her. When it comes to musicians like XXX and Chris Brown, people are conflicted whether or not they should continue to listen to their music despite the fact that they both abused women.

Generally, Wayne Chan (12), can support an artist’s work without supporting their opinions” because he thinks “artistic talent does not equate to political knowledge.” However, he has set boundaries that limit his support for questionable public figures because “there are some artists whose actions are so horrid that their art will inevitably be tarnished.”

Boycotting someone or something against your own personal beliefs is an honorable act, but there comes a time to draw the line. Yes, it makes sense for someone to stop supporting rapists and domestic abusers, but is it reasonable for someone to completely boycott companies solely based on their political affiliation? Just because Nike used Kaepernick in their ads, should a conservative burn their Nike clothes? Just because Taylor Swift announced that she will be voting for Democrats in the upcoming election, should Republicans stop listening to her music?

Ultimately, it is up to your own judgement to determine whether or not it is worth it to continue supporting artists that are bad people, or have opinions that go against your own values and beliefs. Just know that there are consequences to your actions, so you better weigh the cost and the benefits before deciding.