Separating an artist from their work can sometimes be difficult. It stirs mixed emotions and makes us question ourselves. It makes us see our heroes as the flawed human beings that they really are.
In 2015, Bill Cosby has been revealed (by his own words, under oath) to be a serial rapist. Does that mean I can’t enjoy his work anymore?
The comedy albums that he recorded, that I grew up with, are still classic. I still love them. I still like Fat Albert, The Cosby Show, and some other work that he did in film and television. But, I won’t be giving him any of my money anymore.
The Bad Brains are one of the greatest hardcore punk bands of all time. Being one of the few all-black groups in that scene certainly made them trailblazers as well. But, they are (at least they were, back in the 1980’s) extremely homophobic.
During the summer of 1982 they became involved in the Rock Against Reagan Tour, during which time they fell out with the band MDC when Rastafarian singer H.R. learned that Big Boys‘ singer, Randy Turner, was gay. H.R. and MDC‘s Dave Dictor had an intense confrontation. Upon Bad Brains‘ departure from the bill, they refused to return a loan owed to Big Boys and instead left a note that reportedly read, “burn in hell bloodclot faggot.” The incident resulted in the MDC song “Pay to Come Along.”
“First let me say I hated that whole incident. MDC adored the Bad Brains 1980-1982. After a gig where we really hit it off together in Oakland, we dropped everything in our lives to go across country on a mini tour with them on 2 days notice. Ended up playing 2 shows with them. One in Houston and the infamous one in Austin where we dropped off the tour. There in Austin they freaked out in the middle of the show about Gary Floyd’s and Randy Biscuit’s out gayness and refused to sing using the same microphone as them. The Bad Brains seemed to always have these much younger people in the scene around them. And it seemed no would call them on their bullshit. We were about the same age as them and a bit more politically sophisticated then the typical people in the DC and NY scene.
I only felt mistreated in that they came into a show that MDC and others had set up and hurled a lot of insults and anger towards our friends. Insults like “All gay people are blood clot faggots and they should be put to death.” It wasn’t like they expressed that they didn’t like gay people and disapprove of their lifestyle. It was wishing death for the singers of two of our favorite bands in our original punk rock home town. It was sad to see it all go down and didn’t feel good at all. It was confusing that we could adore and agree with people about many political topics including human rights, yet disagree about homosexuality. With HR-Joseph we have never resolved anything, but with Darryl and Dr Know (the bassist and guitarist), we all expressed regrets on the topic years later.”
P.M.A. (Positive Mental Attitude) my ass!
Politically conservative rock & roll musicians are an oddity. Rock & roll, by definition, is anti-authoritarian and anti-conservative. Ted Nugent, Lee Ving, and Johnny Ramone never seemed to understand that.
I don’t understand how Alice Cooper, Dave Mustaine, or Ozzy Osbourne can go on about Christianity and keep a straight face.
Some artist’s work can also be questionable (or just plain vile). But, I may appreciate certain aspects of it, regardless.
Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead has long been criticized for his collection of Nazi paraphernalia. But, no serious person believes that he holds any sympathies for them or their ideology.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Lemmy collects German military regalia, and has an Iron Cross encrusted on his bass, which has led to accusations of Nazi sympathies. He has stated that he collects this memorabilia for aesthetic values only, and considers himself an anarchist or libertarian, and that he is “anti-communism, fascism, any extreme,” saying that “government causes more problems than it solves”.
Jeff Hanneman, the late founder of the thrash metal band Slayer, befriended Lemmy due to their shared fondness for collecting Nazi memorabilia. According to Keith Emerson’s autobiography, two of Lemmy’s Hitlerjugend knives were given to Emerson by Lemmy during his time as a roadie for The Nice. Emerson used these knives many times as keyholders when playing the Hammond organ during concerts with The Nice and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, often before destroying them.
Some stuff that I like, I know is just totally horrible and in bad taste. It doesn’t make me a bad person, though.
Overall, if you don’t want to support someone because they offend you, then don’t. Save your money. Give it to someone more worthy. Meanwhile, enjoy whatever art & music that you enjoy. If other people don’t like that, fuck ’em.