Daily 49er

Love them or hate them, we cannot ignore the faults of our heroes

By downplaying claims actions of celebrities we do a disservice to their victims.

Nicole Fish, Copy Editor

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Disclaimer: This is a rebuttal to the article “We can still enjoy entertainment, even as we condemn the creators”

Sometimes, our heroes fall from grace. After all, they are only mortal. So we choose to either forgive or hold it against them; these days there is no neutral zone. This is how celebrities become symbols of our belief systems. The artists we like and the behavior we put up with reflect our own ideals.

After all, the best artists are archetypes; they create something that speaks to people on a personal level because it comes from a genuine place. We express ourselves by appreciating their art and becoming connected or even attached to its creator. And when we hear that they’ve violated another person, it hurts like it was a friend. Often we are quick to deny it because we don’t know this other person, this accuser coming to dethrone our idol, and it’s easier to turn a blind eye than to admit that our heroes are capable of hurting others. But where do we draw the line?

When I revisit an artists’ work after a sexual assault claim has come out against them, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I see their entire body of work in a new light; suddenly Louis C.K.’s jokes about masturbating in front of people aren’t as funny after I learn they’re based in reality. Knowing that I may have laughed about it feels traumatic.

Kanye West is another artist who makes music based off his own life, even the dark sides. West’s personality and his art go hand in hand — he’s boisterous and assertive, often coming off as arrogant. But he backs it up by coming out with platinum record after platinum record, on which he tells intimate stories about himself and those he loves. This is why he’s famous. This is also why he has lived his life in the public eye for the past decade and has a contentious relationship with paparazzi.

Punching a photographer, even to protect your family, is hard to defend — just ask Bjork — but it is not comparable to exposing yourself and releasing a statement only when the allegations begin to threaten your career and the release of your new movie. On the spectrum of bad things to do, these two acts are on opposite ends.w

Louis C.K. stepped over a boundary with young women who looked up to him and tried to keep it under wraps, according to Marc Maron. Kanye West established a boundary between paparazzi, himself and his family. The latter is more visible because, conveniently, it is on video and it’s easy to point fingers at a black man for being aggressive. The former is harder to see, leaving a mark that is both harder to prove and consequently harder to recover from psychologically. It isn’t as explicit as physically assaulting or raping someone, but it is still a violation that Louis C.K. frequently references in his comedic work.

Art is inextricably linked to the people who make it. If your conscious allows you to consume their work and ignore the ways they take advantage of the power you give them, be my guest. But keep in mind, by giving predators your money, your energy and your power, you continue to block out women, minorities and queer folk from the spotlight that powerful white men have historically controlled. And by doing so you, like your fallen heroes’ legacies, will remain in the past.

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