"I love his music, but I don't know what's going on. We're in a world, right now, where it's art vs. artist, you know? It's a huge topic. If you're an artist, are you a moralist?" — Jonah Hill
In the past couple of years, I'm sure that some of us have faced a predicament similar to the one described above. A dilemma where your favorite artist, whether that be in music, movies, television, comedy, or other areas, has said or done something publicly controversial. Whether this comment or action is a one-time offense or repeated behavior, we are often left wondering what we should do. Should we cancel that artist and never enjoy their artistry ever again? Should we forgive them and continue to support them? If we support them, how do we explain our rationale to people who do not support that artist?
I've faced a situation like this, and it can be very overwhelming. To address this situation, here's what I do: I treat my favorite artists like they're my friends.
I love my friends and I would do anything for them. I always try to support their decisions and dreams whether that be creatively, academically, or in any other area. However, this doesn't mean that we don't disagree on specific issues and have debates/arguments. If they say something or do something that I don't agree with, I always let them know. If I dispute with them, does this mean I don't love them or support them anymore? No way! I'm merely candid with them in the same way that I hope that they would be with me if I say or do something they deem as wrong. By acting in this same regard with artists, you don't have to stop supporting them just because they do something that you view as controversial or disagree with.
On the flip side, friendships fall apart sometimes for a variety of reasons. Perhaps, you feel that a particular friendship was too toxic and remaining supportive of that person wasn't positively impacting your life. Maybe you feel like your friend has crossed a line that morally you can't forgive. In the same way that you can decide to cut out a friend from your life, you can also choose to cut an artist out of your life.
By moving away from being a fan of an artist and acting as their friend, you maintain a sense of support while also holding them accountable for their actions based on your moral code. For me, it has allowed me to be honest with others and myself about how I feel about my favorite artist's decisions without being blinded by fandom or a false sense of loyalty that some people give to their artists. Ultimately, it's okay to support your favorite artists despite their flaws, in the same way that you can decide to stop supporting an artist because of things they've said or done. I believe that treating an artist as a friend will help you make these decisions more easily.