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Should we consume the art or products of people accused of sexual abuse? Show more Show less
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With the rise of the #MeToo movement, more and more victims of sexual assault have come forward accusing prominent figures. From Harvey Weinstein to Michael Jackson to R. Kelly, consumers of art are now faced with an important moral question: should we continue to consume the art of immoral people?

Yes, because the art is separate from the artist Show more Show less

We consume art because we appreciate the value of the art or the product itself, not because we like the artist. Most of the time, when people consume arts or products, they don't even know the people who have produced them.
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Art is a product; the artist doesn't matter

Art is simply a commodity that the artist creates to meet the market's demands. Michael Jackson's songs were made to satisfy his audience and sell albums, and any other person could have sung it and put it in their album. Thus, the artist has nothing to do with it.

The Argument

Sexual assault is bad, and it does make the artist an undoubtedly horrible person. However, that doesn’t mean that the art is also irrevocably tied to the artist. When an R. Kelly song comes up on the radio, or when someone goes and watches a movie directed by Harvey Weinstein, they likely don’t even know or care about the creator of the art other than maybe a random name mentioned in the comments. In this way, art is nothing more than just an individual’s experience of enjoying it. An artist singing a song is just a voice, but that song impacts us only in the way that we choose for it to impact us, based on what we think of the lyrics or the melody. Based on this, there’s no need to boycott a piece of art that’s completely separate from the artist. Additionally, often pieces of art aren’t even the product of just one individual artist. When a movie is made, the actors’ own interpretations and the cameramen’s cinematography also contribute to the movie. Often, some of these actors were even the victims of sexual assault themselves. Therefore, art is a collective effort, and by boycotting the art, an individual is unfairly boycotting much more than just the sexual assaulter.[1]

Counter arguments

It is too idealistic to say that art is an independent, breathing body in and of itself. No matter what, when a consumer purchases the art, it funds the artists’ empire. It fuels the artist's capital to continue to stay in positions of power and exploit those below them. It funds the legal battles against victims to attempt to silence them and destroy their court cases. Art isn’t even spiritually separate from the artist because it was the artists’ idea that gave life to the art in the first place. Without the unique stage presence of Michael Jackson, his songs would not have been half as popular. But even if the art was separate in spirit, the necessary and direct consequence of a consumer funding a piece of art is that the artist earns money. When that artist is a sexual assaulter, that is a very bad thing.

Proponents

Premises

[P1] The meaning of art is based on the viewer, not the artist. [P2] More than one artist contributes to a piece of art.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] The artist is the one that brought the art to life. [Rejecting P2] The artist earns money when people purchase their art.

References

  1. https://www.vox.com/culture/2018/10/11/17933686/me-too-separating-artist-art-johnny-depp-woody-allen-michael-jackson-louis-ck#:~:text=Some%20postmodernists%2C%20too%2C%20argued%20that,Roland%20Barthes%20declared%20in%201967.
This page was last edited on Wednesday, 25 Nov 2020 at 03:12 UTC

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