OPINION: You can’t separate the art from the artist


Photo courtesy of thecomeupshow (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Rex Orange Country has been accused of six counts of sexual assault, making many of his fans question their support for his music.

Everyone has a favorite song, an artist they idolize: hanging onto every Instagram post, hoping for a new single and loving every album. But idolizing celebrities becomes harder when new article after new article expose these celebrities for the awful things they have done. Suddenly, sitting down to listen to their music isn’t comfortable anymore. You find yourself unable to separate your former favorite music from the artist behind it. Some say it’s easy to listen to the music without thinking about supporting the singer, but is that really possible?

Recently, musician Alexander O’Conner, known by his stage name Rex Orange County, has been charged with six accounts of sexual assault. His fanbase reacted with outrage and disgust, and many have stopped listening to his music altogether. This brings to light the question of whether or not an artist is directly tied to their art, and the morality of supporting their work. 

The meaning and beauty of art is subjective. While the artist has their own connection to and interpretation of their work, others may have their own personal connection and idea of what it means to them. 

Pablo Picasso was a notorious misogynist, yet people still admire his art. While he was not a good person, people still develop their own relationships to his art.

Rex Orange County’s case is different. Unlike Pablo Picasso’s abstract art, Rex Orange County’s music is very personal and he is still able to profit off support he recieves. It is more difficult to listen to his music now, knowing that the artist behind these love songs is supposedly a complete contradiction to the person he sings about. When it comes to more intrapersonal expressions of art, it is harder to separate the artist from the art. 

Recently, Kayne West tweeted “I’m going death con 3 on Jewish people.” This isn’t the first time he has posted extremely insensitive comments, saying “slavery was a choice” back in 2018. By continuing to support his music now, you are allowing him to get away with making these comments. No matter how good “Graduation” is, it isn’t worth upholding and allowing antisemitism, racism and hatred. 

Artists should be held accountable for their actions. As a consumer, it is important to be conscious of their beliefs. Because he is no longer around to profit from his art, it matters less who Picasso was. But listening to Kayne’s music and supporting Rex Orange County’s songs perpetuates and condones their actions and speech. You have a moral obligation to withhold your support when an artist is out of line, and ignoring it is inexcusable. 

Photo Credit: “Rex Orange County” by thecomeupshow is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0