21 April 2019

Is it possible to separate art from the artist? | Opinion

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Here comes another lengthy opinion piece but I think in light of recent events I think now is a good time to start to question whether we can or should separate art from the artist? Looking specifically at musicians, I think the answer has too many complexities and every one has their own opinion which of course they are entitled to but I think the most interesting thing for me is the volume of people who don't want to break their illusion of the artists so the deny and disregard any negative opinion.

For me this question first came up when the Lostprophets lead singer was found guilty of several child sex offences. Lostprophets was a band that I absolutely adored and was pretty much the sound track to a period in my life where I felt so much happiness and then when the news started unravelling, I realised that now I can no longer listen to this music and reminisce. I do feel bad for the other musicians of the band because they all played a part in creating their songs but the music just became tainted for me. Then "Leaving Neverland" aired and I was in the exact same predicament. For those of you who don't know Leaving Neverland is a pretty damning account of two victims who Michael Jackson allegedly sexually abused them as children.   Wade Robson and James Safechuck tell an extremely detailed and some times quite graphic account of the abuse and, at times, it is quite difficult to watch. For me one of the key things that I noticed was that both men recounted how close Michael Jackson got to their families, having calls with the parents, coming to their homes, flying them to LA, it could be argued that he basically infiltrated them to gain access to these boys. It's this element that made me believe these men because there were some parallels to a Netflix show all Abducted in Plain Sight where the abuser gets very close to the parents just to access their daughter. This is actually a very common step in child abuse, it's family friend, it's someone they trusted, the family had no idea, he seemed like a nice guy.

The main difference between Ian Watkins and Michael Jackson is Ian Watkins was found guilty (and sentenced to 35 years in prison) where as Michael Jackson was brought to trial found not guilty, with Wade at the time defending him against the accusations and then years after his death, the victims came forward. I can see why people question their motives but when you watch the documentary I think it's obviously clear that these men are pained by their experiences. There have been celebrities coming forward to say that Michael Jackson didn't abuse them, so this alone must me he is innocent and that the men are lying but I have to say just because someone doesn't do something to you doesn't mean they didn't do it to someone else. He openly admitted to sharing his bed with young boys which everyone agrees is weird, so is it that farfetched that he could also abuse the same boys he shared his bed with?  

R Kelly is another artist who has come under the microscope with many victims coming forward, personally I haven't seen the documentary so I can't pass comment but I believe that we should listen to these girls instead of just ignoring it for the sake of his "brand".

I don't think I can separate the art from the artists, when you listen to the stories of the victims I really don't think we should bury our heads in the sand and say they are lying. I can however accept the impact people like Michael Jackson had on the music industry but I can also choose to no longer listen to his music. I think even if you don't want to believe it, you should watch Leaving Neverland just so you can hear another side.

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