There is no heartbreak quite like finding out one of your favorite artists is not who you thought they were. I don’t mean finding an ignorant or insensitive tweet from 10 years ago. I mean finding out that someone you look up to might have actually committed crimes.
In recent years, the entertainment industry has been no stranger to powerful artists or people, in general, getting exposed for doing horrible things. Think of people like Jeffery Epstein, Harvey Weinstein, and R. Kelly. It’s happened in smaller parts of the entertainment industry as well, with artists that might not be as globally known.
There is no perfect way to handle something like this. Do you stop listening to their music or watching their movies completely? Should you only watch the things you already own? Can you never support a future endeavor? For people that have found comfort in their art, it can be extremely hard to just turn away.
There is really no “one size fits all” solution for this layered and complicated phenomenon. However, I will tell you my personal experience of finding out my favorite band had alleged accusations against them and how I dealt with it.
My favorite band was All Time Low. I had been obsessed with them since high school. They were one of if not the first concerts I went to without my parents. All Time Low had become my go-to anytime I was sad, angry, confused, or happy. Anytime I needed them, their music was there to help me out.
In late 2021, I started to see a series of tweets accusing at least one of the members of alleged sexual assault & grooming. It was something that immediately made my stomach sick. Of course, I didn’t want to believe it. How could someone that had helped me through so much do something like that? So, I played the waiting game. I kept my eye on Twitter & continued to see more and more people coming forward to say they had gone through something similar. Some were not as extreme as others. The alleged accusations varied from an inappropriate comment to full-on assault. It got to the point that I couldn’t ignore it.
There is always a chance that some of the accusations were made up. But even if that was the case, at that point there were far too many accusations for me to sit there and do nothing. I made the decision, along with all of my friends, to completely wipe the bad from our lives. I unfollowed all of them on every form of social media and spent hours combing through all of my playlists to delete their songs. Did it hurt? Of course. But I never would have felt right and okay with myself if I had ignored something as monumental as this.
Art vs. Artists
My friends and I have talked a lot about if we’ll ever be able to listen to their music again. I don’t think any of us know the answer. Every once in a while I’ll hear one of their songs. Either I missed it when clearing out my own playlist or it will be on a random Spotify playlist that I put on. I’ve never made it through a full song since the accusations. I’ve been tempted. Plenty of times. But every time one comes on I can’t bring myself to get through the whole thing.
This band meant so much and their music meant so much to me. I would like to be able to listen to it again at some point. But I don’t know if I could. If you’ve gone through the same thing or something similar you might be struggling with what to do. There’s no right answer. Some say to separate the art from the artist but that isn’t always the right path. Doing that can sometimes enable the artist to continue their behavior. I hope something happens where I can listen to their music again one day. But for now, I’ve found plenty of other artists who don’t have these kinds of alleged accusations against them.
Have you ever found out artists that you love have a problematic past? How have you dealt with it?