The world of today has a big problem, which consists in blurring the line between a person’s work as an artist and their personal lives, which in turn begs the question, do we judge artists by their deeds and who they are as a person or their work.
Sometimes even actors suffer the consecuences of actions that are not their own, but characters they portrayed, which seems nonsensical but it does happen. However we will focus on musicians, and if it’s ok to judge someone because of something in their personal lives and stop listening to their music just because of that.
Of course there are crimes, there are personal opinions and there are little mistakes, but as listeners we have to ask ourselves where we draw the line between the artist and the music.
This is a very delicate subject nowadays and it’s amazing how fast a person’s career can get completely destroyed just because of one bad thing, and an apology just won’t do it.
There are many little things that contaminate how people perceive famous figures such as musicians, and as time goes by their exposure to the world gets more and more private, this combined with the feeling of power that social media gives to its users, as in, saying what their truth.
One of the most common scenarios is when musicians express their political opinions and preferences.
The idea that musicians should have an obligation to speak truth to power is problematic. It is not only naïve, but unfair to those who choose musical entertainment as their way to put food on the table.
Fraser G. McNeill, the onversation.com
This is something that should be avoided sometimes, while musicians tend to occupy a stage, they also have a metaphorical stage where their opinions have more influence than others.
My research has pointed to another, perhaps unpopular, fact. Many musicians simply do not care about politics. They class themselves as entertainers and actively avoid politics.
Fraser G. McNeill, theconversation.com
It is possible to just steer away from politics and just make music for everyone to enjoy, the thing is which subjects to touch and how to handle them.
Private Life and Music
Respecting a musician’s private life and his opinions seems such a simple idea but it often becomes the “real person” and the place where people judge them. The thing is in the end, musicians make an alter ego, not just because it’s fun, but because it’s necessary when engaging with so many people. The most important thing is also forgotten sometimes, which is the music.
It is easier still to separate artist from art in the case of purely instrumental music, which further removes the influence of the artist’s beliefs. Furthermore, it’s worth considering that many singer-songwriters portray themselves as a character different from themselves. I doubt all of the ‘sad’ lyrics in songs by bands such as Slipknot, Metallica and Nine Inch Nails are directly reflective of the lyricists’ lives. This is certainly the case in hip-hop. Tyler the Creator, Eminem and N.W.A are all rappers who operate under guises, or at the very least exaggerate their own character.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t condemn serious crimes or any wrong behaviour, but try to separate the music from the artist as listeners. Of course there is a connection between the music and the person who made it, but as it reaches its listeners it aquires new meaning and interpretations.
In the end we just have to understand that famous musicians are only human, they are no saints or sinners, you may like them as a person or not, but the music is another story.