Opinion: Problematic artists- should we support them?

Noah Nelson

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, a social movement that seeks to empower victims of sexual assault through public confessions of the crimes done against them, we have seen countless powerful men in many different industries brought down with financial cuts, social ostracization and jail time. The lives of people like Harvey Weinstein, a Hollywood producer on popular films like “Pulp Fiction” and “Forrest Gump,” will never be the same. Weinstein was arrested on charges of rape involving two different women.

With the #MeToo movement shaking up hollywood, one might expect the music industry to be hit as well. However, there are countless famous musicians who you very well might listen to on a daily basis who have been accused or convicted of violent and sexual crime.

The music streaming service Spotify stopped promoting music by R. Kelly in May of 2018, after decades of sexual assault allegations finally caught up to Kelly. The late rapper XXXTentacion also had his music taken off of popular playlists in an effort to stop promotion after he was accused of assault and battery of a pregnant woman and multiple stabbings. The rapper later confessed to these crimes, according to an article by “Vulture” that claims to have acquired a tape from the Miami Dade county sheriff’s office that has the confessions on it.

According to an online article published by “The CUT,” Spotify is quoted in releasing the following statement, “We don’t censor content because of an artist’s or creator’s behavior, but we want our editorial decisions — what we choose to program — to reflect our values. When an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful, it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator.”

A response from the late rapper’s lawyer brought up a plethora of new issues for Spotify and everyone who enjoys music. The following image is that response.

Again, it is likely that if you enjoy music, you have listened to music by one or more of these famous artists.

What does this mean moving forward?

It means we have a decision to make. We can continue to listen to, and therefore, financially support people who commit crimes, like raping minors and beating pregnant women, just because we enjoy their music, or, we can choose to shun these artists, stop the financial support and also lose some of the music we might enjoy the most.

And who should we decide to shun? XXXTentacion and R. Kelly are the center of attention only because of the modern #MeToo movement. Chris Brown was involved in one of the most public and high profile domestic violence cases in history and he is still widely supported. Bands and musicians we view as legends like Ozzy Osbourne, David Bowie and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, all face allegations. Rick James kidnapped and raped a woman while he was already facing rape allegations from another woman, but no one is saying we shouldn’t enjoy the hit song “Funky Town.”

Fans of music need to make a decision one way or another. Get off the fence. Either fully support artists who rape, beat, and murder or don’t. It’s not fair and it really doesn’t make sense to shun an artist like XXXtentacion for his violent crimes, but continue to support Nelly, Dr. Dre, Tupac or even Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys.

Make an ethical decision or don’t. The way I see it, you can choose blissful ignorance by supporting these artists and ignoring their crimes or you can choose to swallow a difficult pill, acknowledge their wrongdoings and stop supporting them.

Either way, people need to choose.

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