Separating the art from the artist: Where do we draw the line?


Multimedia: Visual and Technical Editor, Mario Ghosn, discusses his opinions on separating the art from the artist, specifically in the world of pop punk music.

Mario Ghosn, Multimedia: Visual and Technical Editor

Separating the art from the artist has always been a controversial topic. Many find it difficult to support an artist whose actions they do not agree with, while others argue that the art itself should be evaluated on its own merit, regardless of the creator’s personal life.

People tend to be selective in the way they approach this issue. For example, some people will refuse to listen to the music of an artist who has been accused of sexual assault, while they have no issue supporting a musician who has been arrested for drug possession. Similarly, a celebrity’s political affiliation may impact their level of support from the public.

I have been struggling with this issue for quite some time now because many of the artists in the pop-punk/pop-rock scene that I have grown up listening to and admiring have been hit with a variety of different scandals. The reason I am revisiting this internal battle is because of the band All Time Low. This band has become taboo in the pop-punk scene, as many women have stepped forward to share their stories about the band’s apparent sexual misconduct and grooming of minors. The sheer amount of women who have stepped forward makes it likely that All Time Low is guilty in some capacity regarding the allegations. 

However, it’s important to remember that not all accusations are true, even when there are multiple, and that not all artists who have committed crimes or engaged in scandalous behavior are the same. When it comes to deciding whether to support an artist or entity, it’s essential to take a balanced and impartial approach.

In recent years, we have seen an increase in “cancel culture,” where individuals or entities are boycotted and criticized for their behavior. While this may be an effective way to hold people accountable for their actions, it’s important to ensure that the punishment fits the crime. Not every mistake or misjudgment should result in cancellation.

When it comes to crimes and scandals that may warrant cancellation, it’s essential to consider the severity of the offense, the intent behind the action and whether the individual or entity has shown remorse or taken steps towards rehabilitation. For example, a racist comment or action may be more forgivable if the individual takes responsibility, apologizes and makes efforts to learn and grow from their mistake.

The issue I have with All Time Low rests in their statement they made on their social media pages to address the accusations. It was poorly written and showed little to no remorse or sincerity for the alleged victims. There is a way they could have defended themselves without disregarding the feelings of hundreds of women who finally had the courage to talk about something that has negatively impacted their lives. All Time Low ultimately failed to do so which has caused many fans to stop supporting them. 

I was a huge All Time Low fan growing up. I loved almost every song they put out and supported them by buying merchandise and going to their concerts. I identified with the songs they produced and attached many of them to my happiest memories. When I heard the news about the allegations, my heart dropped. The band I looked up to and identified myself with had completely betrayed my trust. 

I have found myself in a dilemma where I no longer want to support them, but the thought of no longer listening to those songs I have cherished for years kills me. I feel guilty, but not guilty enough to let go just yet. The line where I separate the art from the artist draws thinner every day, but at this moment, I am not ready to bind All Time Low’s allegations to their music. I understand this may make me look selfish, but I find it equally selfish to take away the songs that have helped and comforted me in my times of need.

Ultimately, it is up to each individual to decide whether they can separate the art from the artist. I may be able to make the separation, but many people cannot. Everyone has the right to their opinion on this subject. If there is anything everyone can agree on regarding the matter, it is the importance of holding people accountable for their actions. However, it is equally important to avoid blanket judgments and consider the context and nuance of each situation. Once that is achieved, a conclusion, whatever it may be, can be made.