The issue of artists having their work protested and even removed from many platforms for their actions has been a huge topic in the media for the recent past. Bill Cosby. Kevin Spacey. James Gunn. In most of these cases, the general public has rejected their artwork due to personal issues they have been involved in. Their entire careers have been tarnished, and in some cases their work completely censored or taken away from the public. Good luck finding the Cosby Show to stream. Kevin Spacey? They wrote him out of that movie. James Gunn won’t be back to direct Guardians of the Galaxy 3.
A more niche example of this occurred quite a few years ago in the metalcore scene with a band called As I Lay Dying. Tim Lambesis, the band’s frontman, was arrested in 2013 for plotting to have a hitman kill his wife. Luckily, the “hitman” was an undercover cop. He approached someone at a gym and asked if the guy knew anyone who could kill his wife. Later, he met with the undercover detective, who was then paid by Lambesis to carry out the hit. Obviously, the murder never occurred, but Lambesis was quickly taken into custody.
After serving four years of his sentence, he was released on parole and is now back with his band. A small portion of the metalcore community has boycotted the band’s work due to Lambesis’ personal issues. However, most of the fans have embraced the band’s returned and has consciously been able to separate the music from Tim’s past, with many even offering him a second chance.
Why is it, then, that in some cases people tend to flat-out reject anything an artist has done for personal choices that, in all honesty, have no bearing on their art itself? Ray Lewis likely murdered someone, but nobody cares that he continued to play football. Chris Brown still releases hit music to this day. Jay Z stabbed Lance Rivera, yet everyone seems to forget that it occurred. Clearly, these are worse than James Gunn’s Twitter posts that, while vulgar and classless, never amounted to an actual crime.
It’s time that we learn to separate the art from the artist. At the end of the day, it’s up to the individual to choose whether they want to support an artist they despise or not. But the sweeping censorship, denial of quality art, and revision of history is not a trend that we should continue.