When Jesse and I moved in together, we combined our dvds right away, but it took us a few years to combine our cd collection. (Yes, we still have a cd collection—but this post isn’t about getting rid of all our cds, just a few of them.) Jesse said it was because we had so many more duplicate albums than movies; I would say that he was just embarrassed by my Moxy Früvous cds and didn’t want to be associated with them.
At the time, I wasn’t embarrassed by them. Sure, they were nerdy and cheesy. But, even if I don’t listen as much any more, I liked them anyway, and they remind me of a good time in my life. I still love a lot of those songs.
This past week was the first time I’ve been embarrassed to own Moxy Früvous music, and it has nothing to do with sonic nerdery. It’s because former member Jian Ghomeshi, who went on to work at the CBC (I’ve heard him described as “the Ryan Seacrest of Canada”), has been accused of repeated violence towards women.
When I find out deplorable personal information about artists I like or have liked, I never quite know how to process it. Should the life of the artist matter in how you experience their art?
I struggle with this a lot, and I haven’t figured it out yet. I know that I’m not consistent in my reactions. I find it impossible to be charmed by the Tom Otterness sculptures in the 14th Street subway station because I know he shot and killed a shelter dog for a piece of video art. I won’t read or watch Dilbert because of the gross things Scott Adams has said about women, or Ender’s Game because of what Orson Scott Card has said about homosexuality.
On the other hand, it’s kind of easy for me to do those things. I don’t really feel a strong desire to read about another sci-fi dystopia, and at this point in my life it’s a lot harder to read a comic strip than it is to ignore it. I’m admittedly not so committed to my ideals when they clash wish something I truly love. For example, Graceland will always be one of my favorite albums, even though Paul Simon was involved in some kind of domestic violence case this year.
Should I force myself to get better at this? Do I throw out those Moxy Früvous cds? I feel a strong desire to. I feel icky about having them on my shelf, and right now I don’t think I can listen to them again without thinking of the allegations. But these are the ideas that are stopping me from chucking them:
*I don’t know the truth of these allegations. It doesn’t matter how many blogs say they’re basically true; no one but the people involved know for sure. (Then again, when your friends turn against you, it’s pretty damning.) Still, I don’t want to put too much faith in mob mentality/the court of public opinion.
*Throwing away my cds would be symbolic more than anything else. The band is broken up; they won’t get any more money from me. Getting rid of my cds won’t get back the money I spent on them or the Moxy Früvous concerts I went to. But should I do something symbolic? Or is this just about not supporting bad behavior financially?
*There are other musicians in the band besides Ghomeshi. Is it fair that my opinion on the band has turned because of one member? Similarly, these songs made me happy once. Should I let Ghomeshi take that away?
*I’ve heard the argument that you have to let the art speak for itself, and not let the artists’ lives interfere. I think this was more in reference to Orson Scott Card. I think I’ve heard people say that if Ender’s Game isn’t about the evils of homosexuality—if it doesn’t come through in the text—it should be okay to read it. Or if Dilbert makes you laugh, what does it matter that the writer is misogynist? If Terry Richardson takes great photos, it shouldn’t matter that he might be a scumbag, etc. I’m not sure if I agree, but I’d be interested in hearing from people who do.
*I have a sneaking suspicion that every artist I like in every medium is an asshole in real life to varying degrees, and if I cut out everyone that’s done something shitty, I won’t have any art left in my life.
So, I’m torn. Really torn. What do you guys do when you find something like this? I honestly want to know.
Sculpture Image: Gothamist
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