Counterpoint: Should art be separate from the artist?

Saige Gitlin, Staff Writer

Whether it’s a superstar athlete, a singer, or our favorite actress, we almost can’t help but idolize these larger-than-life stars.  Our idealistic image of these celebrities often leaves us conflicted over ignoring their faults or acknowledging them.  Especially when considering the recent chain of sexual harassment accusations and the #metoo movement, it is important to remember that we cannot ignore these horrific actions and must judge these public figures as harshly as we would anyone else.  As difficult as it may be, we must be critical when we evaluate these stars as artists and athletes.
“No one wants to hear that their favorite actor commited a crime, but once you are aware of the issue, you cannot ignore it,” said sophomore Zach Gitlin.
Although one might argue that listening to a song or watching a show is harmless, this is only showing support for the person who acted wrongly. If singers and actors continue to be praised for their work, we would be sending a message that there are no consequences for these kinds of actions.  Instead, we should set a precedent that the public does not accept sexual assault, or other wrongdoings, to any extent.
Artists should be held at the same standard. What kind of a society do we have if we value a good show over another’s safety and well-being?  Regardless of someone being a great actor, a movie producer should not hire them if they have been accused of sexual assault or abuse.  If they were hired, it would show other stars that they too can lead a reckless, immoral life.
“Celebrities should be held accountable for their actions just like anyone else,” said senior Davida Harris.  “They shouldn’t be able to resume working with no consequences—as if nothing happened.”
We seem to love idolizing celebrities, and because of this, we are giving them a free pass. Just think about other professions, such as professors or doctors. If a professor faces a wave of accusations, the school would most likely suspend or fire him/ her.  In the regular workforce, a crime of this degree can even prevent people from obtaining a job in the future.
Under these standards, a football player should not be allowed to continue playing on the team after abusing a woman, no matter how great of a player he is.  An actor should not be hired for movies if they commit a serious offense, regardless of their fanbase.
“When we view artists’ work we often connect it to the positive aspects of their personality,” said senior Maddy Wiener.  “The problem is that once the artist commits a mistake, we ignore it and continue to enjoy their art.  If we are going to consider the positive sides of an artist, we must also acknowledge the negative.”
While it may be difficult to completely stop supporting our favorite stars once we learn about their negative actions, it is important that we show some initiative to demonstrate our disapproval of these actions.  Maybe you can’t help but listen to your favorite song, but you can take action to not support that artist financially by not attending their concert.  There are many ways in which we can demonstrate our disapproval of their actions and our support for the victims.
“I’m really proud that women are finally standing up against the injustices that take place in Hollywood,” said senior Sarah Gottesman.  “However, if we don’t start holding celebrities accountable for their actions, the accusations won’t have as significant of an impact in the industry.”
It takes great courage to challenge someone famous and powerful, and by refusing to criticize them, we are belittling the strength of those brave women.  It is intimidating to accuse celebrities since it means having to stand in the public eye.  A quiet trial is seldom possible.  Those who stand up for themselves give up their private lives and risk being judged by strangers to prevent their assailant from harming anyone else.
These powerful public figures with large fanbases and beloved talent should not be free of judgement.  If we disagree with their actions, it is not enough to complain amongst ourselves.  Instead, we should stop watching their shows and listening to their music, and ask ourselves if it is really worth rooting for someone who acts against our moral beliefs.