Artist or the Art Form: Who is to Blame?

By The Voice Editorial Staff

Over the course of these past few months, more and more people have been coming out with their experiences of sexual harassment and sexual assault in Hollywood. All in all, a sort of snowball effect has been generated as a result: since there are now individuals who are coming out and actually being heard —as opposed to quickly being accused of faking or being swept under the rug entirely— others have begun to gain the confidence to come out with their own testimonies and allegations as well.

However, in light of such events, the question as to whether to separate art from the artist has arisen in a bitter debate. In the circumstance of sexual harassment or sexual assault, the answer to said question should arguably be that there should not be any separation at all.

Supporting the work acts as an indirect means to support the artist. Artists already often face a lack of proper consequence due to the reputation of their career, and their actions can be painted in a way that makes them seem excusable. This shift in interpretation of the weight of the circumstances can be due to the status of the person and their work, or a general high public opinion. A pattern is then seemingly created in which, there is a mentality of, “as long as so-and-so provides content that the public finds worthy of their attention, then the issues that have come up are merely trivial.”

As consumers of the content they create, a problematic artist’s work should cease being supported. Actively making the decision to not support the work is a demonstration that their behavior will be tolerated, and that the content they create is not worth the lack of repercussions faced.

A person’s talent (e.g. acting, directing, etc.), under any circumstances, should never be an excuse for that person’s poor choice of action.

The subject goes beyond the idea of these figures being “role models,” for people should not be engaging in such behaviors as decent human beings. To not engage in harmful behavior such as sexual harassment or sexual assault should not be a rarity that causes , it should be expected. It should be the norm.

There is the argument of the flip-side of that same idea, asserting that these people are not even necessarily intended to be role models. For that reason, it is argued that celebrities should not need to restrain themselves for the sake of the people. It is true that celebrities are only famous because society made them famous; their job is to entertain, not to stand as examples. However, there should still be an awareness of being in the public eye, and how their actions can affect and be perceived by the impressionable general people. Even if the intention was not initially there, the implications still exist, and should be treated as so.

To note, there should definitely be a distinction regarding when separation is appropriate. Because sexual harassment and sexual assault are such heavy topics, it should be at the forefront of the public mind that individuals need to be held responsible for their actions and that people should be decent human beings. Art should not be separated from the artist due to the resulting exhibition of tolerance, and the gravity of the subject of sexual harassment and assault.  `