I actually thought an across the board NO until recently. This wasn’t something I considered much, until Harvey Weinstein. Well, okay, back in my Christian Youth I thought, “Can I still LOVE BABY BABY by Amy Grant even though she’s a divorced woman?” (Before you laugh, I’m being 100% serious, but the joke is on me now as a divorced woman myself- me and Amy, man!) but beyond that, I didn’t think it was possible to still love the art if the artist had a fall from grace.
I don’t have much of a connection to Weinstein. Yeah, I love Shakespeare in Love and Silver Linings Playbook and She’s All That (which I didn’t realize he was involved with until this article), but he always seemed like an asshole. I mean, LOOK at him. I always thought it was obnoxious when women would gush over “Harvey, Harvey, Harvey” on stage at awards ceremonies. So for me, does it take away his position as a pretty great movie maker and producer now that he is utterly disgraced? Heck yea it does! He’s gross.
And then there’s Woody Allen. I tried with him, I did. I no doubt think Annie Hall and Manhattan are masterpiece films. And I’ve enjoyed some of his modern films with actresses I really like like Midnight in Paris, Match Point and Vicky Cristina Barcelona! But Woody married his step-daughter. His Step-Daughter. You know when you “accidentally” stumble across PornHub and you see those videos of “Dad bangs Stepdaughter While Mom out getting Groceries”? It’s that. In Real Life. And while the other accusations of the molestation of his other adoptive children have not been proven, they’re enough for me to say nope- bye Woody.
And I’m sure whenever “I Believe I can fly” came on the radio in the last 15 years, I’ve skipped it. I have no idea what other songs R. Kelly has out there. I can write him off EASILY.
And Michael Jackson is Michael Jackson. His influence on culture and music is everywhere. But I grew up thinking Amy Grant was scandalous, so my connection to MJ is mostly felt now in 2019 with my love for Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars.
I’m so woke, guys! I believe the abused and totally, wholeheartedly reject the accused, including their art! Look at me!
Except… for when it happened to Ryan Adams.
When I think about my college experience I think of Ryan Adams. I think about how I entered college loving Contemporary Christian Music and I came out of college with Cold Roses on Vinyl. Ryan Adams saved me from musical ruin. I love his rock songs, I love his country, I love his version of Wonderwall and loved it long before anyone covered it on American Idol.
(TLDR: Ryan used the promise of fame to lure women to him. He emotionally and verbally abused his wife Mandy Moore and other past partners. And he had a very inappropriate online relationship with a 14 year old fan)
The day I read about this, I texted with my college roommate and world’s biggest Ryan Adams fan next to me, and we lamented together about how tough it was to hear this news. We knew Ryan was probably an asshole. The rumors of what he was like when he wasn’t sober have been circulating for years, But THIS!!? Ugh man.. Why, Ryan, WHY?
And the entire time I processed this, for days actually, I played his music.
And that’s when I got it. I wasn’t ‘woke’ with Weinstein and Allen and R. Kelly (well, maybe I was woke with him). I just don’t give a shit about them and their art. Not like I do about Ryan Adams.
And so now I’m struggling. Has this knowledge about Ryan changed his music for me. Yes, it has, no doubt.
But does it change the impact it made on my college years and into my 20s? Has it taken away the memory of his show in 2005 in Knoxville which will go down as one of my favorite concert memories ever? No, it hasn’t. I still have that. I still have his influence; I still have those memories.
And I think that means I still have his music. Yes, it’s his, ultimately. And if we’re believing the people speaking out against him, and I am, the two can’t be completely separated. But… his music is also mine.
It’s the blessing and curse of being an artist. You create something out of you, but that art becomes something else for its recipients. And so, I don’t think I can completely write off the art. I may not support what comes next, whatever it may be, but Cold Roses is hands down my favorite album of all time. Even this doesn’t change that.
Ryan Adams in my Michael Jackson. They are in no way the same. Michael Jackson changed music and impacted the world in a way that very few people have. Michael Jackson also abused children and there’s a special place in hell for people like that. But the influence he had on culture and on music doesn’t just go away because of the accusations.
It’s complicated to say the least, and for me, I don’t care enough about *some* of these guys to continue caring about the art, but for the artists I DID care for, I’m finding that I can still love and appreciate their art, even after the artist ends up being a complete disappointment.