The Art is Not The Artist: On Holding Abusers Accountable & Enjoying Problematic Media
December 29, 2014 4:25 PM   Subscribe

The Art is Not The Artist: On Holding Abusers Accountable & Enjoying Problematic Media
This is the thought process I go through when I’m considering the creative output of a horrible individual, and the questions I ask myself about whether I can consume the work in good conscience.

This actually started life as a Metafilter comment, but I thought it deserved more eyes on it, so I reworked it for my Chicago-based music blog. I also write for Pitchfork, Streetsblog, xoJane, and the previously-on-Metafilter blog Tiny Fix.
Role: writer
posted by Juliet Banana (4 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

This is great! In particular, the question "Does the art have anything to do with the abuser’s crime?" has an implied secondary question that often matters to me as a reader: "Is it worth it to evaluate?" I feel obliged to know fairly well the bad stuff about two problematic authors whose work I really enjoy, and it's a pain in a number of ways, but I think it does matter and yields sometimes non-obvious readings in both cases where I've bothered to do it. So for authors whose work and/or issues I don't know as well, my thought is usually, "If I don't keep hearing how important their stuff is, I can probably give the whole thing a miss, but I'll trudge through the bad details along with the good if I ever spend time on it." It's not a carbon offset kind of thing--it's a directly relevant cost increase for thinking about someone's work.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 5:34 AM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Perhaps consider whether supporting any system that allows a person to make money anonymously and relatively automatically is a good idea. As long as a person can be paid without being well known by the customer, it's easier for bad people to make money.
posted by michaelh at 7:54 PM on January 2, 2015

I suspect for art that symbolic capital is the proximal issue, which may or may not have financial ramifications. I'm not sure anonymity is relevant if that's the case. Sure, if Banksy were using anonymity to conceal a horrible past, a lot of people would feel misused, but not so differently from how they feel when someone just projects a lovable persona that masks something terrible. And more genuinely anonymous figures don't seem comparable to any of the given examples in large part because they already lack symbolic capital.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 9:55 AM on January 3, 2015

On some days I wish we all had a big old scarlet letter typed LED display embedded under the skin of our foreheads that would light up according to how prurient our reactions to evil are - maybe something with a brightness component so that others could monitor degrees of sickness. In addition - maybe a glittery or blinking component could be added to forehead display of evilness to advertise the amount others that were inspired to try or do evil things because of our tacit approval of what was advertised as "ART" .....

Who would need the Vegas strip with a light show like that?

This thread makes me think about "The artist who's leaving a dog to starve in the name of art

Read more:

Deciding where to draw a line about what is "good" or "bad" is tough. So much of it depends on who is in the audience. Perhaps the question is, who gets to be the one filtering the information and is that even possible or wise?

IMO the light show of the forehead is visible sometimes to the people nearest to us or most like us. How do we as individuals ACT when faced with these opportunities to try and change the world for the better? I guess it all depends on how much hope you have.
posted by About Animals at 10:36 AM on January 3, 2015

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