Impossible to separate art from artist

Staff Editorial

R. Kelly, Xxxtentacion, Kanye West. These celebrities, who once could do no wrong in the eyes of most, now have some type of controversy attached to their names. Xxxtentacion was charged with aggravated battery of a pregnant woman, domestic battery by strangulation, false imprisonment and witness-tampering in October of 2017, West has recently expressed his support for President Donald Trump, and Kelly was accused of sexual assault and sexual abuse by multiple women.

Oftentimes, we find ourselves forming a one-sided bond with celebrities who we like and believe it’s our job to defend and speak for them at times. After knowing their dirty little secrets, it is difficult to forget what has been said or even proven about them.

For some, this could be challenging simply because of that ‘bond’ that is formed. Especially if you have been a supporter of an artist or actor for a long time, it could present a challenge to separate the artist from their art.

Many supporters of R&B singer R. Kelly find it hard to separate his recent sexual assault allegations from his music saying that it is “just music” and his music is different from his “personal life.” Famous singer-songwriter, Erykah Badu, was recently under fire for defending Kelly at her Chicago concert in January. In a video from the show, Badu said, “I don’t know how everybody else feels about it, but I’m putting out a prayer right now for R. I hope he sees the light of day if he’s done all those things that we’ve seen on TV.”

She continues, “What if one of the people that was assaulted by R. Kelly grows up to be an offender, we gonna crucify them? Just something to think about.” Not long after Kelly had been exposed, the docu-series, “Surviving R. Kelly,” aired on Jan. 3. He has taken full credit for the show saying that he put the show together for the money that was involved.

People should not be able to just brush off what R. Kelly did so easily. Badu is just trying to see the good in Kelly, like what he did was a common mistake that everybody makes. This is no common mistake, sexually abusing and assaulting women for so many years is nothing short of a disgusting crime and needs to be taken more seriously by his supporters. We get that some people may have grown up listening to his music, but after knowing what he did and that he kept his crimes a secret for over 10 years, how good his music was and how his music made you feel simply doesn’t matter anymore. Why would anyone want to buy or stream his music and continue to give him money?

It’s not always an extremely serious case like R. Kelly, though. Rapper/producer Kanye West has recently voiced that he supports Trump. West had a meeting with the president back in October of 2018 and this did not sit well with a lot of people. It’s no secret that Trump is not the most favorable president and many things that he stands for and says target many groups of people, one being the black community. Many African Americans looked up to Kanye and listened to his music for years. How should African Americans see his music now that he stands behind someone so ignorant and selfish? People argue that it doesn’t matter who West supports, as long as the music he makes or clothes that he designs are good. I think we as a community should think twice before giving him money and support just because what he creates is popular or trendy.

People excuse their actions saying, “They’ve apologized” or “That was a long time ago, they’ve changed,” but no amount of time or apologies can change what they’ve done to innocent people or the decisions that the people they stand behind have made. We should never push things aside and not acknowledge how our own ignorance can affect things. Ignoring or just simply not caring what a celebrity or even a regular person does, gives them the impression that what they’ve been doing is OK and there won’t be any consequences for their actions.
Individuals always have a choice of whether or not to support these celebrities that have these controversial acts attached to them, but know that if you choose to give them support, you are supporting people who have the ability to severely impact the lives of others in a negative way, and their lives will never be the same.