Art & The Artist: When Do We Separate the Two?

Faizaan Amanat, Staff Writer


Faizaan Amanat

The Death of the Author is the idea that we should separate artist from art. Artists are people as well, even if they have done terrible things. Michael Jackson, R. Kelly, and Johnny Cash all have been accused at some point of unlawful actions, but people still listen to their music.
  At a certain point, you have to separate artist from art…except when you can’t. Some of 2018’s biggest artists have been XXXTentacion (Jahseh Onfroy) and 6ix- 9ine (Daniel Hernandez), SoundCloud rappers who’ve amassed popularity with young audiences.   Both have been accused and convicted of heinous crimes that could have rightfully destroyed their careers–but only made them bigger.
  XXXTentacion was accused of beating up his pregnant girlfriend on several occasions, tampering with witnesses, belittling feminism, and beating a man nearly to death while in juvenile detention.
  “X” had a pattern of violent and dangerous behavior, and never really changed. He promised that he would change his ways, but later repeated similar crimes.
  “X”’s appeal was his dangerous persona, which was shown in real life. Had he changed, he wouldn’t have been popular anymore, because his controversies and
criminal actions made him famous. His repulsive actions were his call to personality; he wouldn’t have been nearly as famous if he hadn’t committed the crimes.
  While his death was untimely, people are forgetting what he did. To chalk up his
repeated offenses to “youthful mistakes” is ignorant to say the least. “X” was a complicated artist who lived a dangerous life—while his end was tragic—we shouldn’t
paint him in a positive light, because doing so would be an insult to his victims.
  XXXTentacion got his true stardom because of his criminal activity, making 6ix9ine is like “X”…but somehow even worse. 6ix9ine plead guilty to sexually exploiting a 13 year old girl. Although he got off with 4 years probation, I’m betting he will most likely go to prison sometime in the near future.
  Since the child case started, 6ix9ine has been accused of choking a 16 year old girl,
and sexually exploiting two more underage girls. Predatory behavior on underage girls is repulsive in it of itself, and he hasn’t done anything to gain a speck of respect
  Fame is a powerful tool. We should be careful of who we give it to. While artists
like Michael Jackson have always had their controversies, a world without Michael
would have been completely different.
  You could separate artist from art, because they weren’t explicitly mentioning their controversies in their music. When 6ix9ine raps about murder, drugs, or the women he has, you can’t help but think about the terrible things he’s done. Michael Jackson is one of the best performers of all time. His talent could not be denied.
  Besides yelling and sounding bored, 6ix- 9ine can’t do any part of his job properly.
  If an artist isn’t that talented or good, and has done controversial acts, they shouldn’t
have any claim to fame or stardom.
  Children look up to their favorite singers. They should listen to someone who has a
moral standard. While anyone should have a chance to become successful, they
should have a moral standard that any normal human would have.
  While rap and Soundcloud rap may be the fad right now, we can’t take music as a joke. Artists who have talent and put actual effort in their music should have our attention. Pop stars such as Michael Jackson or Taylor Swift are successful because they have singing and songwriting talent. Artists like Lil Pump, 6ix9ine, Lil Xan, and Kodak Black have no discernible talent whatsoever aside from mumbling.
  There are still artists who make quality music and have a moral standard. Kendrick Lamar, Shawn Mendes, Ariana Grande, Lorde, SZA, Migos, Childish Gambino and even somehow Charlie Puth have all made music that is fun, stupid, insightful, and listenable. Pop music is supposed to uplift people and make them forget about their problems. That’s why 2008’s biggest song was Low by Flo Rida and Kesha. It may have been cheesy and corny, but that’s the appeal of it. Be cheesy and dumb, but put all of your efforts to make it sound as good as possible. Because while pop music may be inherently lame, it’s better to be lame and fun, than sad and trying too hard to be cool.
  If you listen to an artists music, you’re giving them the satisfaction they want. Even
if you’re listening to it ironically, they still gain profit from it. There’s no such thing as bad press. Any attention gives a person more clout and fame. Michael Jackson’s call to personality wasn’t his legal issues, 6ix9ine’s and XXXTentacion’s are.