Can you separate artist from allegation?

Ailbhe Daly

Despite many positive moments, 2017 will undoubtedly go down in history as the year when allegations of sexual exploitation were rife among prominent members of the media.

Jesse Lacey, front man of alternative rock band Brand New, was recently outed by a lady that he had requested illicit pictures from when he was 23. The woman was 15 at the time and he met her after a show Brand New played. Upon this incident coming to light, other women that had similar experiences with Lacey came forward. Following this, the band cancelled their upcoming mini tour of the UK and Ireland, and it is expected that a statement on the disbanding of Brand New will soon follow.

While what Lacey did is inexcusable, it is important to note that while he was a part of the band, he isn’t the band. It’s easy to say that you’ll never listen to Brand New again, but there are three other members who have been there since the band’s beginning back in 2000. Lacey was the front man but Vin Accardi, Brian Lane and Garrett Tierney all had more than just a small part to play in the creation of their five albums.

Similarly, actor Anthony Rapp accused Kevin Spacey of making sexual advances towards him when he was only 14, which lead to a spate of other accusations towards Spacey from other men. Following this, Netflix dropped the production of House of Cards entirely.

It is a topic that is not easy to discuss. While it is good that more and more people are opening up about their experiences and prominent figures are being exploited for abusing their social status, it does create a myriad of issues for media outlets and fans alike. Can you still enjoy the artists’ work? Can you listen to a band despite knowing the faults of a member? Can you still call House of Cards one of your favourite TV shows?

The Daily Wire says that to “separate the art from the artists is a con man’s principle.” Woody Allen is a prime example of one of the numerous accused actors who has had questionable content in films he has been a part of, and has routinely used his art as a platform to make sense of his infatuation with the taboo. The same can be said of Louis CK, who recently was in the spotlight for his movie ‘I Love You, Daddy’ that flirted with the topic of older gentlemen dating younger females.

A quote from Pope Saint Paul II in his ‘Letter to Artists’ stated that “(…) each conditions the other in a profound way. In producing a work, artists express themselves to the point where their work becomes a unique disclosure of their own being, of what they are and of how they are what they are.” Ultimately, the belief is that an artist is their art.

No matter what your personal stance on this issue is, it is a topic that needs to continue being discussed.

Ailbhe Daly