The great modern debate: Cancel culture and the artists

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

More and more we’re hearing the phrase ‘cancel culture’ in our daily lives, so much so that it now appears in our dictionaries. While it’s easy to jump on the trend of cancelling celebrities we’re indifferent about, what happens when our favourite artists join the list? 

It’s been an ongoing debate and a controversial one – with most sides conflicting with one another. But the best way to understand the perspectives of all sides is to start a conversation. 

We asked Londoners what their views on separating the art from the artist were and if they thought it was fair, as well as whether or not they supported any artists post-cancellation.  

Infographic by: Ashreya Jimi on Canva

In defence of separating the art from the artist: 

Steven, 24, said: “Yeah, it’s fair. I find myself being able to separate the two. The way I see it, I don’t judge the art based on what the artist has done, I enjoy it for what it is. I think that’s how art is supposed to be experienced. At the end of the day, I might not support the artist themselves but their art will still be special to me.” 

Vox pop with Jess, 21

Neutral grounds:

Jamie, 25, said: “I hate the idea of not being able to listen to songs I love because the artist has been cancelled. But I also think some artists have messed up too much to still receive my support. I would say I’m more selective on who I stop supporting, I guess. I still listen to Doja Cat even though she was cancelled for a quick minute. I think we can be selective.” 

Alex, 23, said: “ For cancelled artists that I still support, probably Courtney Love, or even Tracey Emin. But I feel like their work speaks for itself and I do believe in separating the art from the artist at times.”

Vox pop with El, 21
Vox pop

In defence of holding artists accountable:

Sarah, 20, said: “No, it’s not fair to separate the art from the artist because it excuses their actions. Engaging with these artists’ content gives them the impression that even though they’ve done something wrong they will still receive support. I mean like Kanye West, he still gets millions of streams even though he’s said some unforgivable things. I can’t do that.” 

Michelle, 21, said: “It’s not fair because they’re still profiting from it. To be honest, I mean it’s up to people if they want to separate the art and the artist but I don’t want to support someone whose morals don’t align with mine.” 

Vox pop with A, 21

This topic has always been controversial and endlessly complex with a lot of layers to it, meaning there isn’t a definitive right or wrong answer. It’s up to you how you choose to view the cancellation of an artist and cancel culture as a whole. 

However, this is important to think about, because cancel culture is so embedded into our society and how we use social media. The idea of cancel culture is always evolving, so seeing all sides of the board can help our understanding of this modern-day phenomenon. 

Names have been changed.

Words: Ashreya Jimi | Subbing: Summer Rogers | Featured image: Unsplash

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