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  • Kate Kitchin

Art vs. Artist: Where Do You Draw The Line?

Picture this: you decide to turn on your television and a movie is just beginning. Perfect timing! So you watch it, completely immersed in the story, the special effects, and the acting. Especially the main actor, their presence is striking, they pop off the screen and pull you into the action. They are incredibly skilled, you can’t believe you haven’t seen them in anything else! So you search the internet hoping to see what else you can watch them in. But unfortunately, you find much more than just their IMDB credits. So now here is your predicament. You’ve found an actor whose work and talent inspire you. They are a marvel to watch on the screen! But when the stage lights go off, the person behind the camera is less than admirable. So how do you love the art when the artist who created it is scandalous or universally despised for a good reason?

This is a conundrum faced by many, even more so with social media which makes it much easier to learn intimate details about the real people behind your favorite movies and television shows. What makes an issue such as this one so prominent is that there truly isn’t one clear answer. Each case is different and everyone has their opinions. And with so many different people drawing their own conclusions, the line becomes blurred. So how do you decipher the answer in your specific situation? Before we begin, remember that everyone will continue to have their own thoughts on this topic, so you must allow yourself to figure out your own beliefs regardless of others' opinions. And it is completely fine if at any point you change your mind, as we are constantly growing and evolving and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.

One determining factor would simply be: what did the person do? For some, if they believe what the person did was “not that bad” then they could continue to appreciate the art while making it clear they do not endorse the artist. And if what they did is believed to be bad enough to the point where they cannot make that separation, then they choose to defend neither the art nor the artist. One argument that could be made against this conclusion is that by supporting the art, you are supporting the artist. It is easy to say that once the art is completed, the artist no longer has a connection or influence to it. The problem with this is that for most people, creations come from a part of them. It is not the art that is now in the world that was delivered there by the artist. It is the art that was pulled and crafted from the artist, it exists not only because of but from the artist’s existence. If one chooses to think about it in this way, suddenly building a divide between the two becomes more of a challenge.

Two other factors one could consider when attempting to answer this question are who is the person and what is their occupation? Everyone makes mistakes, but the gravity of a mistake can change when it is made by certain people. How much influence does this person have, what kind of audience do they appeal to, and even how long have you been a fan of them? If they made a completely ridiculous statement and attempted to pass it off as fact, having a smaller audience would mean they have less of an influence on the general population with their words. And if you have loved and followed their career for a long time, you might not want to stop supporting them after just one mistake. Now, let’s say the person who made a ridiculous statement is a newscaster. Or they were a Youtuber who did so on a video that accumulated millions of views from children. Suddenly what they both said is more impactful. Every little factor matters in a complex and multi-layered dilemma such as this.

Addressing problems that lack one obvious solution is frustrating. If only life was a big math problem! Although it might still be considerably difficult, at least there would be one indisputable answer to it all. Unfortunately, this is not the case. However, there is a cheat code I can give you to make it a bit easier to figure out. Ignore the crowd consensus. Even if you think you agree with it. In order to form your own opinion and understanding of any situation, you must push past the fluff and get to the facts. And once you have digested all the factual information on the subject from reputable and reliable sources, you can then decide what to believe. When the masses all blindly follow the loudest voice, misinformation becomes much more widespread. And lives can be ruined in the process. So in the debate of art vs. artist, where do you draw the line? You must decide for yourself, and draw your own line.


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