Can you ever really separate art from the artists?

Clara Kelly

Recently on February 23rd, a one million dollar bail was set for RnB musician R.Kelly on sexual abuse charges.

Kelly is another name in the long line of allegations coming to light recently against those in the entertainment industry, begging the question, can art and the artists who created it, ever really be separated?

From Xxxtentacion to 6ix9ine in the music industry to the likes of Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey and others in Hollywood almost kick-starting the recent ‘me-too’ movement wave. With even names such as John Lennon’s coming under fire for assault allegations.

So does this mean we should be cutting ‘ignition’ and ‘yellow submarine’ off our Spotify playlists? It could be argued that like how a child can’t be blamed for their parents, art cannot be blamed from the creator it derives from, but to say that would be to discount a lot.

Such as separating intent from the art. For example, it would be hard to listen to songs such as R.Kelly’s ‘when a woman loves’ and not wonder if the song was ever about a woman at all, in the legal adult sense of the word.

There is also the very valid argument that sometimes supporting the art, also means supporting the artist, at least financially and perhaps in terms of continuing to feed clout to the performers whose actions you may not agree with. It must then be asked, if supporting this ‘art’ will in turn, let the artist reap the monetary awards.

If you attend an R.Kelly concert, he is still profiting in multiple ways even if the attendees are there for the art as a separate thing, as it can never be fully separated.

6ix9ine will continue to make money every time someone listens to one of his songs on spotify, and Weinstein would still benefit from people who disagree with his actions, paying to see one of his movies.

The argument raised is can people in good conscious watch the Bill Cosby show knowing the crimes he has committed or even pay to see a Louis C.K comedy show? And what can be said for artists who continue to work with them?

In the recent documentary on U.S T.V network ‘Lifetime’ ‘Surviving R.Kelly’ , It was revealed that R. Kelly allegedly had underage girls in the studio with him while he was making his ‘love’ songs.

It also showed that the song “You Are Not Alone,” which he wrote for Michael Jackson, was about a miscarriage suffered by a girl he got pregnant. So there is no separating R. Kelly’s music from his crimes because he himself interjected his crimes into his music and his lyrics about sex show it.

But R. Kelly isn’t an outlier in the argument over separating an artist’s work from their personal lives. There just simply are some characteristics that define who people are. This only becomes an issue, when who those people are, are abusers.

Image Credit: Pitchfork.com

Clara Kelly