Despite the long-awaited public shaming we’re now seeing served out to the likes of alleged serial offending Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, their art still lives on, and their reported crimes remain unconvicted. Worse still, there are many artists who are continuing to work and live successfully despite their alleged acts of violence. Chris Brown, Johnny Depp, Emma Roberts – all artists exposed through photographs and videos for abusing loved ones – are proceeding to get work, appearing in movies that we pay to see and playing through Spotify playlists that we listen to every day. We must discuss how this impacts their alleged victims and how it desensitises our own attitudes towards violence.
Illustration credits: Emily Nash
Times have changed an incredible amount in terms of the industry and what artists can keep quiet, as more and more victims come forward about the abuse they reportedly suffered at the hands of artists as old and established as Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey.
Tarana Burke launched the #MeToo movement which has succeeded in giving women and men a voice against their abusers. But, if we continue to consume their art, what are we really saying to their survivors? It’s saying that we want to listen, but that we don’t want to stop giving these artists money that only permits them to pursue their abusive and illegal lifestyle.
With money comes power – power to do as they please. If artists are going to use the power the public give to them to create victims, aren’t we, as a society, perpetuating the idea that what the victims are telling the world isn’t enough to deter us away from them? It then tells non-famous abusers that society will, if you’re popular enough, excuse their behaviour in some cases. Even worse, it then dissuades victims from coming forward or feeling like they’re getting the full justice they deserve. If we’re only partially listening to celebrity victims, why would anyone else feel like the full force of their voice is going to be heard?
There are many reportedly abusive artists that are still releasing music or films and the public continue to give them ratings and money, journalists continue to interview them about their art and critics continue to publish their opinions. Our moral compass has clearly gone astray.
Woody Allen allegedly raped his 14 year old adoptive daughter, Dylan, but when is his next film coming out? 2020. Will it do well and gain millions of views? Of course. Has he ever apologised or acknowledged what he supposedly did to Dylan? Of course not. His last film was released in 2017 and still, I hear people praising films such as Midnight In Paris.
Actress and model Freida Pinto has recently commented,
David Bowie: praised for his originality and creativity but yet just another artist who escaped persecution for allegedly raping underage girls as young as 14.
Chris Brown: an artist still thriving in the industry after countless women have come forward about his disgusting behaviour towards them. When he attacked Rihanna in 2009 and the horrific images were shared alongside the police report, the public were shocked and revolted. He followed it up with a public apology.
All good then, right? It was just a one off and we got an apology. Apologies are rare in the industry as artists want to stick to their guns about not being guilty and calling their victims liars. However, Chris Brown couldn’t really escape cold hard facts and let’s not forget he didn’t actually go to prison – do these artists ever?
He was sentenced to 5 years of probation, 180 days of community service and Rihanna got a restraining order against him. This doesn’t sound like justice to me, especially since there had been two other occasions and police reports where he’d attacked her months before.
After his apology we thought he wasn’t going to harm anyone else, because surely he couldn’t get away with anything more? We thought wrong. In 2013, he pushed a woman at a club who was in a VIP area and she filed a lawsuit. There have been countless altercations with other women. Baylee Curran claims he threatened her with a gun. Karrueche Tran, his ex-girlfriend, has a restraining order against him due to him threatening to kill her. In May 2018, an anonymous woman sued him for 17 million dollars due to being raped in his home by his friend.
As recently as January 2019, he was held in custody in Paris for allegedly raping a 24 year old woman. The case is ongoing.
Yes, Yo, Excuse Me Miss was an absolute bop and yes, I did have Chris Brown as my msn pic when I was younger, but if you think for a hot minute that I’m going to stream any of his music anymore or put even a single penny towards his lifestyle, you’ve got me twisted. It’s not as simple as separating the artist from their art when the artists are abusing the power that comes with their fame.
On top of his abusive ways, when he got called out by singer, Zara Larsson, for being a ‘sexist and homophobic prick’, he responded by calling her ‘stinky butt’. Very mature. Well done, C. Breezy, you definitely won.
Let’s not forget the amount of rappers in the industry that have erupted over the past couple of years, who either have a history of abuse or have recently been reported. XXXtentacion abused his girlfriend even while she was pregnant, yet his fans defend him to this day. Kodak Black was indicted with raping a teenage girl. 6ix9ine was filmed with a nude 13 year old girl in 2015 where he’s stroking her, spanking her and thrusting into her.
The list is endless, but my intention for this article isn’t to curate a list of everyone I believe should be avoided, but to state the amount of artists still freely producing, staying in the limelight and being blasted at pre-drinks.
Undoubtedly, we are finally making progress with documentaries such as Surviving R. Kelly, a series that has given his survivors a voice and a platform to finally share their horrific truth. The tragedy? We’ve known for over a decade. It only takes a quick Google search to find a legion of allegations and court cases that date back to 1995. R. Kelly illegally married Aaliyah in 1994 when she was just 15 years old. In 2002, he was charged with creating child pornography. So I have to ask, how has this man continued for so many years in the industry? Personally, I believe it’s partly due to the media not actively working against the artists and society’s consistent phrase, ‘let’s separate the artist from the art’, which to me is in the same vein as, ‘boys will be boys’.
It’s time to put ourselves in the victim’s shoes. The well-known expression, ‘what if it was you or your loved one?’. If you agree with this article then it’s time to call out your friends and family for continuing to give these people money. It is clear that many artists like Chris Brown and R. Kelly don’t change, despite the stacking up of cases against them. Some haven’t even apologised or tried to seek help for their mental health.
I find it difficult to retain respect for directors that hire accused (but rarely convicted) abusive actors and actresses such as Johnny Depp, Emma Roberts, Christian Slater, Charlie Sheen – to name just a few, and artists like Ed Sheeran, who willingly collaborated on music with an accused abusive person. Even artists who have been charged and pleaded guilty are still welcomed back into the industry, never mind the amount of victims labelled ‘liars’ due to ‘lack of sufficient evidence’. We need to show survivors that we care, that their voice really does matter which is why I am done with these artists, what about you?
To avoid watching movies and TV shows involving abusive artists you can use the website https://therottenappl.es.
Edited by Ruby Hinchliffe and Helena Venables.