Can You Separate the Art From the Artist?

This has been a long running mental and external debate, can you separate the art from the artist that has created it? Are the two inseparable or can the piece of art exist in a context of its own? For this piece I’m largely going to focus on music, since it’s the topic I’m most comfortable discussing. I’m indifferent to Hollywood and actors are retards and I’m too out of the loop in the comedy world to even know who I can site as a reference.

This first came into question a lot when the vocalist of my favorite band, Screeching Weasel, had an altercation with a belligerent woman in Texas after she spit on him and threw drinks at him. At the time, March 2011, a lot of “fans” left the proverbial sinking ship that was Screeching Weasel, but I was steadfast in my fandom and publicly defended my hero. Why? Why didn’t I write off someone who’s music was important to me ’cause “like hitting women is totes bad and junk?” That’s when I first started mulling over the concept that the art someone creates, once it’s out in the world, becomes disconnected from the person or persons (in such a case a whole band) that craft it. Full disclosure, I thought was Ben did was cool and made me like him more, keep that in mind as you read the rest because it ties into my initial query.

Fast forward to the last election and my question got thrown back into my fucking face at every turn. People who not only made music I loved started really letting me down. It was after I saw Barney from Napalm Death in an Antifa (a terrorist organization, funded by George Soros that cost me my last job) shirt where I added a caveat to my debate: if it has affected me personally then all bets are off, the artist and their art can collectively fuck off.

Sometimes it’s easy for me to ignore a band I love and their dumb comments on Trump, like in the case of Green Day, and who I stopped liking past 1996 and love everything to that point. In my head, they broke up 21 years ago and that this is a different band that’s wearing eyeliner and saying things like

“I feel like I’m in a state of shock … The executive orders Trump is signing feels like a vendetta. Trump is not only taking out his revenge on the people who protested him, but also the average American that just didn’t vote for him. These reckless decisions on healthcare, Muslim-Americans, immigration, environmental protection, freedom of speech, freedom of press, women’s right to choose what to do with their bodies, suggesting sending in the feds to Chicago are signs of a man that is trying to redefine what it is that keeps our common union as Americans. This is not just his ‘conservative agenda.’ It’s an all out assault on our civil liberties.” (Loudwire)

This also has me feeling the need to be more honest with myself, because when I find out a musician I adore is also a Trump fan or even just right leaning, I feel myself becoming a bigger fan of their music. So again, can you separate the two? There’s one artist in particular, who I can’t name since he feels if he was ever outted as conservative and a Catholic it would ruin both his recording and literary career, that has been a favorite of mine for decades. We chat often about politics but always privately, and now I look at the MAN as a brother in arms and consequently I’ve become a more enthusiastic fan of his art. I’ve also become a much larger Ramones fan after reading Johnny Ramome’s autobiography Commando in where he talks a lot about his conservative views, his love of Ronald Reagan and how much he hated commies.

Now let’s get pragmatic: what if you were to somehow turn off that switch in your brain and only consumed entertainment by people with whom you completely agree? I think both left and right would agree that sounds like a nightmare. But let’s be real, the left would have it way easier to find like minded individuals that also know how to rock and I’m not willing to only listen to Ted Nugent and Kid Rock.

I don’t have a clear answer to this, all I can say is you got to be honest with yourself. Does your love of some piece of art outweigh your political compatibility with an artist? And you have to admit it does sound weak to all of a sudden turn your back on a record you once loved because their singer thinks Trump is a Nazi.

If all else fails, take comfort knowing that most musicians are dumber than you!

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Written by Alex Caprio

Alex Caprio

New Jersey, former musician and stand up comedian with a degree in English. He can also make a better eggplant parm than your Grandma. Follow him on Twitter @alexclarkcaprio.

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