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Supporting the work of controversial celebrities



Can I still love Kanye's music if I hate his controversial comments?

Ever since Kanye blurted out on live television that "George Bush doesn't care about black people" in 2005, the American rapper has been a polarising character.

It seems nothing much has changed since then. Yeezus' recent public admiration for Trump on Twitter has divided his fans, and his ignorant remark that slavery was a choice made even the most hardcore fans began to jump off the Yeezy ship.

Kanye has drawn the ire of many for his insensitive comments on slavery during this interview.

But Kanye's music is still timeless. His inane comments and bizarre behaviour has not diminished his music that changed the landscape of hip hop. Despite his recent outburst of nonsense, I still find myself being drawn back to his albums. 

Is it possible for me to love the work someone I disagree with so vehemently then?

People who grew up with Kanye's music are starting to jump ship.

It is not the first time an artist has come under fire for controversy outside of his music. A decade ago, R&B giant Chris Brown came under heavy scrutiny and criticism for beating up his then partner Rihanna. While outrage against his behaviour was warranted, it did not change the fact that his Grammy winning album F.A.M.E. was incredible.

It is not only artists who act despicably. Basketball icon Kobe Bryant was once the subject of a high profile rape case, and football superstar Lionel Messi has been convicted of tax fraud and handed a heavy fine. It affected their image in the public eye, but their actions did not change the way they are perceived as athletes. 

Then there is the legendary Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein, whose rampant sexual harassment controversy spawned the #MeToo movement. But should our appreciation of Pulp Fiction, long regarded as a classic, be tainted by the acts of its producer? Or should we nullify James Franco's critically acclaimed performance in the movie The Disaster Artist after he was accused of sexual harassment?

James Franco was accused of sexual harassment by five women in February 2018.

There is an endless list of great talents committing greater sins. But is it wrong to love the work of someone who has glaring blemishes on their character? I do not think so.

Perhaps the reason why we place so much focus on the artist and not the art is due to the prevalent culture of celebrity worship. In the age of the Kardashians, the cult of personality tied around celebrities blurs the line between artists and their art.

I believe there should be a difference between Kanye (the person) and the music of Kanye. Kanye (the person) may blather on about offensive nonsense, but the music of Kanye is a compelling story with incredible production value.  

Arguably his magnum opus, Kanye's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album remains one of the masterpieces of modern music – its maximalism and blending of genres is still unparalleled.

And the same goes for other controversial artists and entertainers too. You can choose whether to support them or not, but you cannot deny the quality of their work if it is good.

At the end of the day, Kanye produces some pretty amazing music, even if the things he says may be pretty boneheaded. And that is why I'll still be streaming his album when it releases on June 1.