A preview of Chris Brown's new song came out -- "Don't Be Gone Too Long" with Ariana Grande. The listener is essentially given the chorus, the bridge, and what the background music will sound like during the verses. Even sans verses, the song is absurdly catchy. I've probably played it about 10 or so times yesterday, constantly hitting refresh on YouTube. I play it, dance along with it, sing along with the chorus, and immediately finish the song thinking, "Wow, I kind of hate myself for liking this Chris Brown song."
We don't need a pop culture lesson to understand that Chris Brown isn't exactly the most stand-up citizen. To be frank, he's a violent, angry, egotistical man who has no problems beating a woman to a bloody pulp. He's not exactly someone you'd want to be affiliated with, nor would you want anyone you know to affiliate with him.
And yet, he makes catchy music.
This is something I've been thinking about, especially in light of Woody Allen's sexual abuse allegations. So many people are quick to shrug off the shitty things that people in the spotlight do. Roman Polanski is still regarded by many, even though he was convicted of drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl (and then fleeing the country to avoid prison time). People still work with Terry Richardson, even when countless models have come forward about Terry's salacious behavior. Look at all the athletes who were charged with rape and assault (both sexual and otherwise). Look at how many of them were cleared by the court of public opinion.
I think the biggest problem here (aside from a culture that is apathetic -- if not downright permissive -- of physical and sexual assault) is that people cannot disconnect the artist from the art. Surely, the man who created this masterpiece of film would never do something like that. Surely, the guy who can score winning touchdowns for his team would never commit such a crime. Surely, the person who displays such talent and entertainment would never be a horrific human being in his real life.
We cannot disconnect the art from the artist. We cannot go, "Well, he is a great photographer, but a sexual deviant, and I can shun him on a personal level while still recognizing that I enjoy the aesthetics of his photography." Which makes sense: if we still go to those movies, if we still cheer for a certain team, we are still supporting them, albeit indirectly. But we've already seen what happens when people try to actively turn their back on all of it: their brains decide that there's no way someone who produces that beauty can be so ugly in their spirit.
So I might be generating YouTube hits for Chris Brown's channel, providing advertising revenue for YouTube, his label, his management team, and, to a degree, Chris Brown himself. But it beats trying to pretend like I have to hate a catchy song because of the crimes committed and potentially excusing his behavior -- be it consciously or unconsciously -- in light of his art.