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Discussions with Damaris

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  • Damaris Chanza

Is It Possible To Separate The Art From The Artist?

With so many allegations surrounding countless people, as fans, how are we supposed to separate art from the artist?

Artists grow large followings based on the communities their art builds and the causes they promote. They become role models to their fans, who are so committed they call themselves by fandom names. Countless examples of dedicated fan bases cross multiple art forms, from books to music, including Potterheads, Twihards, Swifties, Monsters, and Barbz. Fans love not just the art but the person who creates it. For this reason, when these artists stray from their causes, they promote or start exhibiting unsavory behavior, which can devastate fans.

Aside from their catchy fandom names, fans are connected more than ever because of the internet and social media. However, the increased speed at which information spreads has done more than just let fans connect over like interests; it also revealed artists' vices and unsatisfactory, sometimes even illegal behavior.

When fans know every song lyric and its meaning and have been to multiple concerts or read a book so many times that they can recite scenes by heart, they become intimately familiar with the art. With interviews and social media, fans can also become intimately familiar with the artist and learn how their life experiences and personality have influenced their art. When fans take the time to discover all the nuances and inspirations, it makes it even more challenging to separate the artist from the art.

So as a fan, do you delve into cancel culture and abandon someone you've idolized or potentially face being socially ostracized by defending or ignoring their wrongdoings?

When the allegations are illegal or blatantly morally wrong, the answer is clear: abandon them. Then, moral gray areas or more controversial values make the right decision unclear. This may seem like a foolish question, but with new allegations and accusations coming out daily, this is a debate that fans are constantly grappling with. Even when these accusations are clouded in mystery or lack concrete evidence watching someone you adore put in a position where their integrity and everything you thought they stood for is in question can be heartbreaking.

But does this debate have so divisive? There may be another perspective.

Part of what makes deciding so tricky is consumers' overexposure to the artist. It makes it impossible to separate the art from the artist. Frankly, even when the artist has acted abhorrently in unforgivable ways, you can want to stop supporting them. Still, their art is so deeply ingrained in your life experiences and personality that losing it can feel like losing a part of yourself. It's not just about the art or the artist but the community it's built and the experiences it's created. Refusing to support an artist is more complex than just stopping.

Instead of just a two-sided debate, separating the artist from their art may be possible. Of course, this questions how much creativity derives from the artist and what message their art is spreading. Choosing to separate the art from the artist requires some level of ignorance or the ability to look the other way. At some point, you may have to defend your decision, and it may even call your own character into question.

Such a debate has no good answer. You have to make a choice and live with it.

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