10 September 2019
A universal truth is that when an artist has an audience that partakes in the artist’s creation, then that artist is being enriched. Whether it be through a direct fiscal return or cultural influence due to an increase in relevancy, all artists are enhanced by having an active audience.
Since having an interested audience benefits an artist through both fiscal and cultural means, the only way for them to not benefit is for their audience to be lacking in numbers and activity.
While it may be obvious, artists are human beings with lives and, more importantly for this conversation, beliefs. An audience that knows and understands what an artist’s beliefs are and chooses to still support the artist by remaining a part of the audience are supporting every belief known to the audience.
The contents of the beliefs are irrelevant because an artist can step outside of their views when creating art. The art can become another more complex conversation.
When we give an audience to people who are unrepentant domestic abusers, sexual predators or people with generally toxic views on tolerance and acceptance, then we are accepting their behavior and saying that despite these beliefs, which harm the freedom of others, the pleasure we receive from their art is worth giving them the resources to hurt others again.
R. Kelly received support for years despite an illegal marriage to an underage girl and strong evidence of pedophilia and child pornography that failed to earn him a conviction because of bad police work. This was determined by the Washington Post, alleging that Kelly’s profitability encouraged record labels to help cover up his misdeeds.
English singer Morrissey’s well documented anti-immigrant speech is glossed over because, despite being a child of immigrants, he refers to people from China as a lesser species and said that mass killings are acceptable because the number of casualties is less than the number of animals that people eat, according to an article where the Rolling Stones collated his hate-speech.
Both artists still have an audience. They still have a following that provides them with both direct fiscal benefit and cultural influence. The audience, by not abandoning these creators, have shown that you can say and do anything if you continue to entertain people while doing it.