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The topic of enjoying and supporting artists of questionable moral reputation is one that I often find myself dwelling upon and discussing with others. The variety of takes on the subject are wide and interesting and, unlike a multitude of other topics, a large amount of these positions are thoughtful and sensical. The topic itself is rooted in concepts of personal ethics, the place of art in society, and how much the artist’s views influence their own work, all of which are thought provoking topics on their own. Yet, no one can objectively say how we should feel and which art should strike us as worth our time (heaven knows Sput has tried…). Yet, still, the topic is endlessly interesting to me, as it’s one that encompasses so much of how we, as people, view the world around us.

At what point does an artist’s actions overshadow their art? Are more personal records more susceptible to being tainted? How much does one’s opinion stem from their own personal morals? Such questions are ones I see being flirted with and danced around often, evolving a specific instance into a much broader topic. Yet, in terms of answers, I somewhat draw a blank. Instead, these questions lead me to even more open thoughts, such as “where do we draw the line” (I’ll be the first to admit said line can be blurry for me) and “can we even justify something as subjective to what messages and frequencies resonate with us?” Is it even possible to obsess over this with a level of accuracy?

Take a band like Dimmu Borgir’s Hellhammer and Shagrath, who have both have been quoted as saying extremely bigoted and hateful things [1], despite being cited as one of the less egregious black metal groups. Many would argue this kind of situation could possibly be attributed to the bigoted ethos of the genre, although staff member verdant argues that while “[t]he claim… is somewhat valid…[,] actually committing those crimes is superfluous and doesn’t necessarily lend credence to the character some of these musicians are trying to portray.” Yet still, it’s hard to argue that the years of crime haven’t worked their way into the genres of black metal, power electronics, and other comparable scenes. Fellow contributor Wines even argues that “the purpose of such genres, and such tapes, are a complete rejection of complicity in a societal hegemony that insists on palatability… It is also a reminder to the cosseted that this Exists, on often a very literal level.”

But by dodging musical movements entirely you are arguably limiting yourself from experiencing truly engaging works. “I try not let things unrelated to music cloud my judgement, else I’d just be limiting what I can enjoy. Some of my favourite music has been made by some pretty nefarious characters: Famine of Peste Noire, a white-nationalist Frenchman who just so happened to make some of the most idiosyncratic black metal of all time; Carlo Gesualdo, an aristocrat who murdered his adulterous wife and her lover in cold blood… etc.” said resident bird-watcher and staff member Jacquibim, who told me that, by shying away from art made by depraved artists, he feels that he’d be starving himself of significant art. Yet, even after making a conclusion such as this one, you also are confronted with the topic of support, be it merchandise purchases or word of mouth endorsement. Close friend of mine BBGames stated that, while his and others’ monetary support of the art isn’t a direct endorsement of the artist themself, “glorifying the [problematic] people behind the music [is something he is] completely against,” reaffirming his and others’ stance on separation.

While these two arguments are rooted in BB and Jac’s personal thoughts, they offer a clear insight into their own views on the role the artist plays in their art. Other people I talked to agreed that the topic was one that tended to be not so black and white, but, still, I feel that most art has some semblance of the artist themselves, whether they are creating satire that cartoonishly paints how they see the world around them or depict their own thoughts and feelings through deep seeded metaphor. An example in another medium of this would be the works of H.P. Lovecraft, who has been criticized by many for embedding his own xenophobic and hateful worldview into his chilling tales, the kinds of which that give insight into his own character [2]. Similarly to how many feel this way about artists like Lovecraft, fellow contributor Clavier disagreed with the others, stating that “[i]t’s just psychologically difficult to separate what I know of an artist from their art.” and that “…ethics apply to the creation of art. And if that means limiting the scope of what can be produced, then so be it.”

Regardless of how you feel about such limitations (both sides make a case for themselves), we can all agree that it’s wise to, at the very least, be aware of who is making the music you are enjoying. Being conscious of this is extremely necessary to building your own viewpoint on this topic and keeping your own opinions of certain artists nuanced. But, still, that hardly answers the main question I raised — when does an creator’s actions taint their creations? It’s a question that I’m not entirely sure if I know the answer to yet. It’s perhaps a trite observation, but art is an incredibly open-concept, in that it both depicts and expresses itself in the way the artist intended and also the way that the viewer perceives it. Because of this, the observer can instill their own interpretations, possibly filtering out a piece of art’s intended meaning, disassociating it from the artist themselves. Because of this, you could possibly remove any subtext and coded references or use those to create your own interpretation of their work. Although this can only go so far (groups like Brainbombs and Grand Belial’s Key leave very little to the imagination), this line of thinking isolates the work as just what it is — a work. This said, even without removing the artist’s influences, these pieces can offer as a window into the mind of the creator and, if effective in its goals, a thought-provoking experience.

But, hey, that’s just this balloon’s dumb opinion.

–Bloon

1: Hellhammer’s statements were documented in Lords of Chaos and Until The Light Takes Us, where as Shagrath’s disgusting racial comments were documented in the first issue of the norwegian Darkness ‘zine – https://tinyurl.com/darknesszineshagrath
2: https://lithub.com/we-cant-ignore-h-p-lovecrafts-white-supremacy/, https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:904039/FULLTEXT01.pdf
*Special thanks to Jacquibm, Clavier, Winesburgohio, Conmaniac, verdant, BBGames, and Lucid for helping me out every step of the way.




Conmaniac
07.30.18
hey amazing work bloon, saw how hard you worked on this and it definitely shows in the final product! a topic that definitely needs to be talked through instead of instantly judging people based on who/what they listen to

0xME
07.30.18
great article! I feel like this is a topic that mostly gets discussed in connection to Black Metal when there are certainly other applicable artists (Brand New/Lostprophets come to mind), my viewpoint might be skewed though

Frippertronics
07.30.18
whoa mama

clavier
07.30.18
Good work bloon :)

bgillesp
07.30.18
I don't know anything about the black metal bands I check except Burzum and Mayhem. But I do approach most emo/pop-Punk albums with the assumption someone in the band has a questionable sexual past with minors now unfortunately and that makes listening harder. Nowadays I feel like most musicians have really questionable pasts, so as long as it isn't reflected in their work I usually can make it through the listen without trouble

Rigma
07.30.18
stellar writeup bloon

Bloon
07.30.18
Thanks guys! This one's been a long one in the making, but it was worth it.

Thrust!
07.30.18
Good write up bloon. Impressive.

Dewinged
07.30.18
Really good stuff balloonman, I also found myself conflicted about that Peste Noire album.

ScuroFantasma
07.31.18
Nice article Bloon (:

Bloon
07.31.18
thank you so much friends

Jom
07.31.18
I know you guys were talking about figuring out whether or not to include images with the article, but I'm glad you decided against it now that I see the final version. Nice one!

Papa Universe
07.31.18
It always seemed rather simple to me. If the art is good, but the artist is not, you can follow the art. It only becomes a burden on your conscience, once that art starts actively promoting the artist's questionable viewpoints.
For that matter, if you are a Democrat, do you also purposefully ignore Republican artists?
Also, if the issue is in artist's actions, not opinions, then I doubt that that affects the art. Lou Diamond didn't promote paedophilia in JANK's music, neither did Jesse Lacey in Brand New's, neither did Bill Cosby have a daterape plotline on the Cosby Show (I think, the show went on for so long that it might as well have). In those cases, art is separate from the artist.
I guess it's similar to the Nazi or Communist art and architecture. Do you ban Wagner's music, because Hitler made it into symbol of national pride? Do you do the same with Nietzsche and do you tear down the Leipzig Monument to the Battle of the Nations?
And does that logic affect things other than art? Meaning, do you renounce universal healthcare programs, anti-smoking campaigns, autobahns and live broadcasting, because it was first instituted by the Nazis? And do you renounce black metal as a whole, because its (arguably) most renowned originators were murderous Satanic ideologues?

Papa Universe
07.31.18
(the Dem/Rep question only works under the presumption that you despise the other side)

SowingSeason
07.31.18
Yeah images wouldn't have made sense for this one (lol), but I always ask. A good, serious toned write up for an important topic.

Xenophanes
07.31.18
Idk I take it on a case by case basis. If I’m distracted enough by the thoughts of a musician’s personal beliefs then I will tend not to attach myself to their music. Or if it’s blatant like Argoslent.

pjorn
07.31.18
great read, bloon.

Divaman
07.31.18
Interesting article. I think in the end, each individual has to decide for themselves on a case-by-case basis.

Sniff
07.31.18
i spot a Brainbombs namedrop

DrGonzo1937
08.01.18
Awesome work bloon

Papa Universe
08.03.18
I dug around and found very little to support the notion that Famine of Peste Noire is a white supremacist. Unless that is something referenced in the lyrics or you know it personally, could you provide source of the claim? I'm not trying to be like a "Gotcha, liar!" kind of person, just really confused as to where that's coming from.

Papa Universe
08.03.18
(Disclaimer: I'm really not all that well versed in Peste Noire's background... or a lot of music for that matter.)

AlexanderMR
08.03.18
If you like the art, you like something else about the artist besides their art. Of course, it doesn't mean that you like everything about the artist.
It's something pretty simple, I don't know why people talk about this so much to be honest.

Papa Universe
08.03.18
Yeah. I always liked to take an optimistic approach to everything. Things aren't 100% this or that, so everything has a bright side and everything has a dark side. So let's just say that a terrible person's beautiful art is that very bright side.

AlexanderMR
08.03.18
Papa Universe, if you want to know more about Famine's ideology, watch this: https://youtu.be/zw-pIwRXNcw
Personally, I wouldn't describe him as a "white supremacist", at least not in the same way people use that term these days.

Papa Universe
08.03.18
so he's more in line with modern day Varg, sans the "economic collapse is imminent" shtick
(and Varg probably won't like me using the word shtick to describe him)

AlexanderMR
08.03.18
Eh, I don't think there's many people that'd would like that.

AlexanderMR
08.03.18
*that

Papa Universe
08.03.18
so I watched some part of the documentary, I skipped a little and got to a part where he talks about Nazis who like his music. so it seems to me that he just likes to provoke people and piss them off and Nazism just so happens to be the easiest way to do so. he definitely seems not like a white supremacist, but more of a French nationalist at best.

Papa Universe
08.03.18
yeah, okay, I got to a part where he speaks about race. so a correction needs to be made: a French ultranationalist with some strong racial beliefs, but not a militant advocate for racism (or at least not in ways intentional)

AlexanderMR
08.03.18
Mmmmmmmmmm... Yeah, I think that's accurate.

Papa Universe
08.03.18
either way, thanks for the clarification

AlexanderMR
08.03.18
No problem.

Bloon
08.04.18
Interviews like this make me feel like he's one of those "I'm a racist who likes white people more than other races but I'm not a supremacists": http://militant.zone/kpn2017/.
I would like to get Jac's take as well as it was a direct quote from him (not trying to pussyfoot out of the claim, I'd argue the distinction between white supremacist and" a French ultranationalist with some strong racial beliefs" such as "ethno-pluralis[m]" and anti "race mixing."

Bloon
08.04.18
*not a supremacist

Jacquibim
08.04.18
Note: I didn't say Famine was a "supremacist" specifically - and I haven't said that, though it's very, very arguable.

The ethno-nationalist/pluralist tag is 100% accurate in his own words: "I am a racialist, an ethno-pluralist, absolutely against race mixing, but not a supremacist. Clearly, it is this last point that sets PESTE NOIRE apart from certain purely NS bands. Once this is made clear, my primary goal, no doubt, is the defense of the white race and the expulsion (peaceful if possible) of non-Europeans from our lands. And on this essential point, NS bands are my first allies." - Famine.

He makes the distinction between himself and Nazis as he doesn't conform to the "moral puritanism" demanded by NS, and he feels there's a tonne of hypocrisy in that crowd. But yeah, what he says, does and sings about goes a lot deeper than just pissing people off.

Winesburgohio
08.04.18
i'm sorry how is literally calling for "non-european" (already a pretty loaded, insidiously racist term) people to be expelled (but peacefully!!! which is impossible; expulsion will require a degree of force) from countries sometimes of their birth not... y'know, racist?

at least other racists aren't as mealy-mouthed and disingenuous about it

...music rules tho :sunglasses:

zakalwe
08.04.18
Unfortunately our standards have eroded to the point we give anything a ‘chance’ for the sake of personal gratification or trying as an individual to appear to be provocative/rebellious no matter what the context.
Separating art from the artist is your prerogative whereas finding something truly abhorrent is a fundamental part in establishing your personal ethical values and if your’re willing to sacrifice that for a produced piece of ‘art’ then you’ve sacrificed your soul.




Nazzadan
08.04.18
I think the argument is on whether or not Famine is a Nazi, not his on the record racism. Which at that point if that's being asked is redundant because there will always be someone saying "uh well actually, being that this person is not part of the National Socialist party of Germany in the 1930s they can't be a Nazi therefore *faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaart*"

Jacquibim
08.04.18
Robots don't have souls Zakalwe so I will continue to enjoy my tunez with impunity ty

zakalwe
08.04.18
Good lad

Papa Universe
08.04.18
I hate everybody anyway, so I'll go listen to Peste Noire.

ScuroFantasma
08.04.18
Famine is definitely a racist dudes. Sure he's not a supremacist, but he's still a racial separatist with an ideology built on racialized premises. I think he said in an interview once that he's closest to like Italian fascism or something lol, so take that for what it's worth. Like every ideology it exists in degrees and he's different to the "genocide now" types. Is he a Nazi? I would say no, but he's certainly willing to work with them and any way you slice it his operative criteria is race.

Seeing as this is music related topic though, my personal take is that it makes no difference to whether the jams are good and boy are they good - so jam away homies m/. It's important to remember that there is a position on this issue between following every Nazi band on YouTube because you agree with the 1488 album title and the Reichsadler logo, and completely ignoring or denouncing heaps of sweet tunes because unfortunately talent doesn't discrimate even if the talented people do. On this point I'm totally self-centred, it's a worse crime to my ears if your music blows than if your thoughts are icky, and that's all I care about musically.

Bloon
08.04.18
*I'd argue the distinction between white supremacist and" a French ultranationalist with some strong racial beliefs" such as "ethno-pluralis[m]" and anti "race mixing" barely matters.

Sniff
08.04.18
I'd argue that naming an EP Aryan Supremacy kinda gives it away

platnum
08.04.18
I can't listen to pogrom - liberal cunt anymore because it makes me feel gross af

Also having a hard time listening to music with white nationalist messages since charlottesville



Bloon
08.04.18
Yeah I get that Plat

CompostCompote
08.04.18
Very different from Aryan Soupremacy, which is just clam chowder.

sixdegrees
08.04.18
interesting quandary

granitenotebook
08.09.18
hey this is good

Bloon
08.11.18
hey thanks

guitarded_chuck
09.27.18
"At what point does an artist’s actions overshadow their art? "

never

this idea has always been completely moronic to me

guitarded_chuck
09.27.18
i mean sure maybe dont pay $100 to go to their show but if you appreciate the art and not support the artist directly thats more reasonable than judging art based on artist

daily reminder that some of your favorite idols are pieces of shit irl too you just are blissfully unaware

guitarded_chuck
09.27.18
daily reminder picasso fucked teenagers in his 40s

Cimnele
09.27.18
i feel like there's enough breadth of entertainment that if you suspect an artist is an entire dick you can just move on and never think about them again

it's not "let's examine this musician's brain rot manifesto to see whether he's the wrong or right type of dickhead" it's "I jettison this fool man's entire corpus to see whether I even really miss it"

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