Opinion: Can we separate the art from the artist?

Teresa Balmori-Perez, Assistant News Editor

Over the past few years, many celebrities have gotten themselves into controversy. How are their fans supposed to respond and react when they find out one of their favorite artists has revealed a problematic side to them that no one was aware of?

Should fans continue to support their work, or should they boycott their music, films or books?

Illustration by Anaiah Alfred / The Runner

Well, I think it’s a person’s personal choice to decide whether or not they want to continue supporting their work.

Some artists have still gotten some support from their fans even after their controversy. Kanye West is a perfect example of this.

According to a 2023 article by The Rolling Stone, West has made some antisemitic comments. He has proclaimed his love for Nazis and stated that it’s time for the Jews to “forgive Hitler.”

Despite his hateful comments, some of his fans still support him.

The Rolling Stone article goes on to speak about how West received thousands of tweets supporting the rapper by tweeting out the “Ye is right” slogan on Twitter.

It got to the point where a Jewish man was assaulted in a grocery store in Maryland after a group of fans were shouting “Yeah, do it for Kanye!” to the man.

Another famous artist that still gets lots of praise is Elvis Presley.

According to a 2016 Vice article, Presley started dating his ex-wife Pricilla Presley when she was 14 years old while he was 24 years old.

I have heard some of his fans defend him by stating that “it was just a different time back then and now it’s different.”

However, despite this, Presley has still been praised as being the king of rock n’ roll and he is still loved by many people today.

The film, “Elvis,” that was released last year, earned multiple Oscar nominations. It’s clear that his fans will continue to support him no matter what.

J.K. Rowling is one of the many authors that have been involved in controversy. However, this time it’s not due to her books but because of her transphobic comments.

In a Vox article published in 2023, it said that Rowling has been liking and commenting on transphobic tweets.

In an interview with Good Housekeeping, Rowling believes that 90% of her Harry Potter fans secretly agree with her anti-trans views, but they are too afraid to support or speak out due to the fear of receiving backlash.

Many people still read and watch the Harry Potter series due to how nostalgic and memorable it is for some who grew up reading the books.

Of course, there have been fans and companies who have stopped supporting the celebrities that I have mentioned, but it seems like despite their awful behaviors, people can’t deny the fact that their work is still out there.

West’s and Presley’s music is still being played and advertised on multiple streaming services, and Rowling’s books are still in certain libraries and bookstores.

Trying to figure out whether or not we should separate the art from the artists can be a difficult decision for some, especially when people have been supporting the artist for so many years.

For me personally, if I found out one of my favorite artists had done something awful, I would still appreciate the work that they have done. However, I don’t think I would enjoy their work as much as I did in the past and depending on how severe their controversy is, I don’t think I could support them anymore.

At the end of the day, it depends on if the fans are willing to still listen, watch or read their work. Even if it makes some people mad, people still have the right to support their art for what it is.