We all make mistakes. But that doesn’t excuse people for doing racist or otherwise hateful comment — especially celebrities with big platforms.
1975’s Matty Healy invites controversy with him on tour, eating raw meat on stage for consensually kiss the fans. But his racist and hateful behavioralso was earn steam online. Earlier this year, he poked fun at several ethnic groups on a podcast.
“1975 fans will bend over backwards to defend Matty Hey, even if it ultimately means having to defend a racist,” one Twitter user said. writing. Another added“I don’t like healthy Matty anymore! Being a racist isn’t funny.” USA TODAY has reached out to a representative for The 1975 for comment.
Elsewhere, people haven’t forgotten when the country star Morgan Wallen was filmed uttering a racial slur two years ago; Wallen apologized and his career has since skyrocketed.
Can we separate the art from the artist?
In recent years, with the rise of the #MeToo movement and more public consideration of stars behaving inappropriately, fans have been faced with the question: Can we separate the art from the artist? The answer requires introspection and must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
“It is crucial that fans address these situations themselves and that their positions are not decided for them by political or religious leaders and organizations,” said Glen Robert Gill, associate professor of classics and general humanities at Montclair State University. “These judgments should not be made instantly or by proxy.”
What to consider to separate the art from the artist
Healy and Wallen aren’t the first and certainly won’t be the last.
“These examples are just the latest chapters in the recurring global novel of white men who publicly display racist behavior and are positively rewarded,” says Melvin WilliamsAssociate Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Pace University.
If you’ve loved an artist from a young age, your memories of them are probably difficult to disentangle.
“People say one should be able to separate the artist from the work, but I can’t deny that my enjoyment of the Smiths and certainly of Morrissey’s work has been compromised by his words, just as I cannot appreciate THE Harry Potter books and movies the same way I used to do,” says David Schmid, associate professor of English at the University at Buffalo. “At the same time, The Smiths are such a big part of my life and especially my youth that I can’t stop listening to them even if I wanted to.”
There are also levels of engagement and disengagement with an artist’s work. Just because you’re obsessed with a controversial artist’s song doesn’t mean you agree with their point of view.
“The idea that listening to, reading, watching or paying for someone’s art makes you complicit in all of its effects is probably a form of reverse scapegoating,” says Gill.
Still, “the moral compass and tolerance/intolerance of racist behavior will influence whether one feels ambivalent, guilty, or indifferent about supporting a controversial artist,” adds Williams. “Yet if we pay attention to history, there are far more commercial successes and support stories for artists like (Healy) and (Wallen) than failures and public cancellations.”
Time will tell if Healy’s comments will significantly alter his fan base. “Indie musicians such as (Healy) are arguably held to a different/higher standard, not least because the majority of his fans are perceived to be more liberal and so this sort of thing could potentially hurt their careers more. “Schmid says. .
Cancel culture and responsibility
Schmid thinks we need to move away from “cancel culture” and focus on accountability.
“It’s more helpful/productive to center conversations on this issue around accountability,” he says. “What does accountability look like? Who/what are you accountable to? The answers to these questions can actually move the conversation about artists and racism forward.”
Perhaps this is why some are proponents of the term accountability culture rather than the long-vilified “cancellation culture”. “If the shift to a culture of accountability helps clarify someone’s intent to cancel, I’m all for it,” Isabelle Araïzaassociate professor of sociology at Texas A&M, Corpus Christi, previously told USA TODAY.
That said, the lines can be a little blurry when it comes to responsibility — depending on who you ask, of course.
Gill says, “Where people were once prone to throw out every Dixie Chicks song or every Kevin Spacey role, we’re starting to realize that a writer like JK Rowling can espouse social views we might disagree with while producing a cherished book series, and that a comedian like Louis CK can do gross things while still being incredibly funny.”
Learn more about cancel culture
It’s time to undo “undo culture”. Call it the “culture of accountability” instead.
Is “cancelling” someone real? Joe Rogan. Whoops. Awkwafina. Chapel. None have been cancelled. Is this a new cultural relaxation?
The antidote to “cancel culture”:Is this the way to avoid “cancelled culture” and be friends with everyone? Maybe.
Rollback:Morgan Wallen used a racial slur, but his popularity is skyrocketing. How did we get here?