Love the artwork despite the artist

Should you still support creators of Rick and Morty or Harry Potter even if at odds with your moral compass

John Lennon is regarded as one of the greatest artists of all time. His career with The Beatles, as a solo artist, and his promotion for peace made him a beloved figure whose influence spanned multiple generations. His music immortalized his legacy as a gifted and brilliant artist, and his sudden death was a tragic event that was mourned by thousands. He’s been solidified as one of the greatest artists to ever live.

Unfortunately, Lennon was not the perfect man everyone thought he was. Behind his beautiful music career, Lennon had a history of emotional and physical abuse, especially towards women. He admitted in interviews that he was violent towards women, most notably his first wife Cynthia Powell. She’s stated in a memoir that Lennon would strike and terrify her out of jealousy and possessiveness. He’s also been known for being emotionally absent in the life of his first son Julian Lennon, along with many inappropriate remarks and actions.

Despite John Lennon’s abusive relationships with the people closest to him, he’s still revered as an astounding artist and remains a cultural icon till this day. His songs touched multiple generations of hearts and influenced many people in many ways. Although some may dislike John Lennon and his actions, you can’t deny his impressive impact and his complex mind that created some of the most culturally defining songs.

But does liking Lennon’s music mean you like what he did? Of course not. You are able to enjoy what you want despite who and where it comes from, even if it comes from a very nasty place. The decision to continue supporting the art you enjoy in spite of an unfortunate artist is completely decided upon where your morals stand.

Art is an amazingly universal way to express ideas, experiences, and values which are reflective of the artist. Whether in the form of music, works of art, poems, or films, art, in general, is able to draw out the emotional and personal side of us to make something that can be appreciated and admired.

But if an artist is morally wrong, does that make the art morally wrong too? We can still appreciate good art despite a bad artist, but does that mean we appreciate the bad artist as well? How can we separate the art from the artist? How can we put them against each other in an “art vs. artist” struggle?

From Harry Potter series author J.K Rowling’s controversial transphobic comments to Pablo Picasso’s incredibly misogynistic views, there are plenty of artists who were considered to be detestable people despite the popularity of their artwork and subsequent influence.

One recent example of this “art vs. artist” issue would be the controversies surrounding Justin Roland, the creator of the popular animated TV show Rick and Morty. He has a fruitful career with his work on Rick and Morty and within the 10 years of its lifespan on Adult Swim, it quickly became one of the most popular adult cartoons to air. Despite Rick and Morty being a hit with the viewers and garnering a massive cult following, the creator was dropped from Adult Swim after he was charged with domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend.

After the lawsuit came into the public eye in 2020, he left the studio, leaving his legacy on a sour note. Despite the charges being dropped, his public image has been tainted and spoiled. He hasn’t worked on any projects since. Rick and Morty is still widely enjoyed today. Even with Roland’s future career as a writer in tatters, his show is still performing well.
But possibly the most infamous and current example of this issue would be Kanye West.Throughout his 19-year-old career, Kanye West has been recognized as one of the world’s best-selling music artists with over 160 million records sold and numerous Grammy Awards and nominations to his name. His career has had a significant impact on hip-hop and pop culture as a whole. With several music and fashion collaborations, his influence on modern-day culture is tremendous.
With so much recognition and praise, and an incredibly large fanbase, how can someone this high up fall so far? Although his music career is huge, Kanye West has always been known for having very outspoken views on many issues such as abortion and gun rights, which has stirred up controversy in the past years.

In 2022, Kanye West publicly spoke about incredibly sensitive and controversial topics. During an interview for InfoWars, West made a series of antisemitic comments and praised Adolf Hiter, claiming to “love Nazis.” He also denied the Holocaust and claimed that it was “factually incorrect” that Hitler killed six million Jews.

This, of course, was widely condemned by the public and many of his sponsors withdrew from partnerships with him, such as Adidas, Gap, and Balenciaga. He’s held such a high pedestal only for it to rapidly come crumbling down.
Although he’s been dropped and criticized since his recent offensive statements, Kanye West’s music is still incredibly popular. The general public harbored a dislike of West for his statements, and rightfully so. However, despite his social outcasting, he remains an influential and dominant figure in music.

Despite his apparent “canceling,” West’s music will continue to be impactful and admired for years to come. But does appreciating Kanye West’s music mean you also appreciate his beliefs? Obviously not. Enjoying someone’s work doesn’t necessarily correlate to enjoying the person themselves. What you like and dislike is completely decided on by each individual and their own values..

If you think West is a horrible person and you just can’t listen to his music anymore, then that’s OK. If you still continue to appreciate his art while disliking him as a person, that’s OK, too. It all comes down to the individual and where your moral compass leads you.

Some people have suggested boycotting the latest Harry Potter video game because they don’t want Rowling to receive any money from the purchase of the game. However, others believe they say they don’t want to deny themselves what they believe is an important

What we create, even if it’s not considered art, is molded by our morals and ethics, right or wrong. It’s where we stand as the viewer to decide whether or not we support the art when approached by it and whether we support the artist. This, however, does not excuse Kanye or any other artist of what they’ve done. Despite their success, they are still responsible for their actions. But the decision to continue appreciating them is completely up to you.