View Full Version : separating an artist from their private life

22-01-2016, 11:21 AM

i was reading this post on popbitch about the new r kelly album and wondering about how messy this can actually get.

in rap, there are probably lots of artists who rap about all sorts of nasty behaviour, but in real life, might actually be pretty decent people (though obv they might also not be, which makes this less of a conflict, but still potentially more troubling). in other genres, it might be the opposite. im not sure how far to take it tbh. with r kelly, i suppose you could have once separated the man from his music, but its harder when he keeps singing about it and you have no choice but to imagine who hes singing these songs about/to (OTOH, it seems weird to suggest that as he has ben accused of sleeping with teenage girls, he should stop singing about it - his songs have mostly always been about sex, they are not explicitly about teenage girls).

its also tougher to do when the audience wants less of a boundary between the public and private persona of an artist, and there is a certain cultural competition for raising the bar in who can be the most morally challenging, or the most flagrant. we seem to crave purported 'honesty', no matter how nasty that might be. i had some issues listening to morrissey for a long time after he was so candid about his views on immigration, englishness, and nationality, etc, but have eventually gone back to listening to the smiths etc (mainly if i stopped listening to ever artist who has declared xenophobic/racist opinions, i would probably not listen to very much music). is there anyone you can no longer listen to for non-musical reasons?

22-01-2016, 11:57 AM
Ten Walls is an interesting one. He exposed himself as homophobe and has justifiably been stopped from earning money off a culture that was arguably born and founded in gay clubs and culture, but since his music is completely instrumental, can you listen to his music and enjoy it (assuming you ever could) without feeling ashamed of yourself?

After all, 'Walking with Elephants' might be many things in your opinion (shite, e.g.) but it certainly doesn't SOUND homophobic. (How could it?)

It's well-acknowledged that artists (and in particular really good artists) can be extremely 'difficult'/shitty people. The key thing is, at least ultimately (that is, when the person in question is dead and gone and so are all the people they mistreated), does THE ART contain those shitty qualities? And even then, should it be discounted, if it is in other respects a work of creative excellence, if it has those blemishes?

Philip Larkin, e.g.: privately a racist, publicly a Thatcherite, and though elements of both these appear in his poetry, his poetry is arguably neither racist nor Thatcherite.

22-01-2016, 04:01 PM
I think the most important things are considering who you want to support/not support in terms of giving money to them (or exposure to them if you're a journalist etc), and also ensuring that you don't indulge in hypocrisy in whitewashing someone's crimes and lambasting another for the same thing.

I don't think there's anyone whose art I have shunned completely for non-musical/filmic reasons, tbh. Corpsey's point is a good one - in terms of listening/watching, it's more about what the art contains than what the artist thinks/does (though I'll try to avoid giving money to artists whose views I find abhorrent, as above).

22-01-2016, 04:03 PM
Artists are generally cunts. If you boycotted them based on repugnant views/actions you'd be left with almost no-one.

22-01-2016, 04:13 PM
Artists are generally cunts. If you boycotted them based on repugnant views/actions you'd be left with almost no-one.

But Chris De Burgh

22-01-2016, 04:15 PM
But Chris De Burgh

Jesus no, the man's a MONSTER.

22-01-2016, 04:31 PM
Jesus no, the man's a MONSTER.


22-01-2016, 05:14 PM

on the other hand, watching 45 Years suddenly seems a little less urgent...:eek:

22-01-2016, 06:35 PM
We live in a world where if we know anything about a persons life than it isn't private anymore. People put stuff out there to get attention even when its negative attention. You don't want to be the second-most-hated person at whatever you do, so you have to get all the negative attention. Hate is a strong emotion that gets tossed around a lot, and if you hate someone else it means they are winning because if you are talking about them then you are doing what they want.

22-01-2016, 11:55 PM
There are very few of the real greats in any creative field whose domestic or private life would endear you. Wealth, fame, touring, addiction, etc, make for a lot unconventional living and plenty opportunity for unsavoury behaviour. That's one side of it at least, sometimes they're just dickheads in any case. The humanity and flaws behind heroes brings out a lot of contradictions and you can think of plenty incidents down the years that have polarised into two extremes, one camp in complete denial that the artist made any mistake and another camp where the mistake is all people can see. Fact that it goes for your favourite French philosopher as much as your favourite jazz saxophonist underlines that often something (esp in internet age) that earns an artist the label of Singularly Reprehensible Monster is actually a much more pervasive social problem of one form or another.

It was Ten Walls stupidity rather than his comments as such that were his downfall, wasn't it? There are plenty with dubious views enjoying careers but the sense to be a bit wiser about it. I think it was good he was made an example of though and dance music along with everywhere else would be better served if people aren't prepared to let shit pass. He was easy pickings though given most people hadn't heard of him till he opened his mouth. If it had been someone of greater stature I suspect things would be different. Like when you find out such-and-such is a Republican or hear the occasional US legend get misty eyed about Jesus and wonder what else they believe down that road. Likewise, household names from scenes like say, metal or hiphip, that value traditional gender roles as much as they loath difference.

One thing I didn't see though was an acknowledgement that Ten Walls comes from a pretty right wing part of the world, culturally. Lithuania isn't it. Forces of political right along with the church are pretty dominant having long been empowered to undermine the USSR and administer what replaced it. Not saying that is any sort of mitigation for what he did but in the blind ignorance of his comments, he was just repeating unfounded shit he saw other people say, there are some echoes of the perennial discussions about Jamaica we are well acquainted with. Had his career lasted a bit longer I'm sure his line of work would have broadened his horizons a bit.

What's interesting though is how it's decided who is shunned and who is quietly permitted to get on with things. Two examples that come to mind would be Michael Fassbender who was, allegedly, particularly violent to an ex-girlfriend. It doesn't seem to have effected his career a jot and female fans remain legion. Likewise, Bill Murray has achieved the status of sort some of lovable uncle despite his divorce proceedings containing stuff that has put people in the wilderness for less.

All the serious stuff aside though, artists retweeting praise for themselves will probably put me off quicker than anything. Social media has wiped the image and mystique off quite a few people. At the same, there are few things better than finding out an artist whose work you enjoy is actually pretty decent themselves or even 'woke' as they call it now. Chris De Burgh is an asshole though.

23-01-2016, 12:26 AM
Sincere commitment to any kind of art necessarily involve disassociation from other people, certainly during the process and, depending on the level of commitment, before and after as well. There is a warped sense of value which attaches to the act of creation itself and the objects created - something an artist is deeply conscious of after all - people come and go - but good work is eternal - it's a legacy more lasting than bricks and mortar. 'Artist' should be a psychiatric diagnosis really (OR MAYBE THEYRE THEY SANE ONES - EH??).

Take into account the distorting effect fame and publicity can have on personalities, the sheer amount of time necessarily spent alone mastering the craft, and the psychology of the kinds of individuals attracted to the field in the first place... Miles didnt HAVE to be a pimp and an asshole, but how could he have gone on to produce (to paraphrase Bangs) 'the most sublime expressions of human suffering' without that darkness in his personality? Picasso is another genius dickhead. Highly gifted and innovative, but utterly callous to almost the point of psychopathy in his dealings with women who functioned primarily as inspiration until a newer model came along. Let's not start on Hemmingway.

Chris De Burgh is an asshole though.


23-01-2016, 12:34 AM
There is also the inescapable reality that nearly everyone is, or has been an asshole in some area and/or point of their life (just read through some of the archives on this board. ;)).

Its probably the one thing all humans have in common - and the glare of fame simply makes it more obvious.

23-01-2016, 01:05 AM
yeah, Id say getting the opportunity to indulge yourself and being lauded for it doesn't build the most amiable character or receptiveness to the needs of others around you. There is a very long list of neglected wives and lonely children with genius fathers. Being relieved of the more mundane responsibilities means you can probably avoid growing up to some degree. Obviously, Id jump at the chance.

It is a very interesting subject though when you get past the two poles of so-and-so must be condemned!! or transgressions ignored. With many people who sing or write, fans are served the most intimate or passionate sides of the artists and then behaviour can be so far removed from the person people thought they knew. Bob Marley and James Brown talked a good game when it came to emancipation but were walking contradictions in private and very public. Marley did an interview in Dublin years ago and his views on the place of women were a good century behind, at best.

Jackson is probably the unrivalled case when it comes to the subject of this thread.

02-02-2016, 09:31 PM
DJ Justin James?

02-04-2016, 02:27 AM


08-01-2017, 04:44 PM
All the serious stuff aside though, artists retweeting praise for themselves will probably put me off quicker than anything. Social media has wiped the image and mystique off quite a few people. At the same, there are few things better than finding out an artist whose work you enjoy is actually pretty decent themselves or even 'woke' as they call it now. Chris De Burgh is an asshole though.

This. Often shows how uninteresting certain people (respecitvely their lives/respectively the people writing the tweets for them) are. Of course, if you happen to be a die hard fan of whomever, you consider EVERYTHING this person does interesting. But at a second look, you never know what any particlar artist is really up to.