Should the work stand on its own?


I noticed someone in the “Eurorack Synthesizers” Facebook group was asking (in response to Synthrotek rape jokes, presumably) if a fan should separate the work from the person. I was about to respond when I noticed the moderators had disabled commenting on the post. I made a new post asking why they did this and the reply was that the forum was “not political”. Seriously? The sooner we realize that everything is political, the better off we will all be.

Anyway, since lines IS a safe place for discussion of the intersection of electronic music and politics, I’ll add my comment here. Seinfeld was on Colbert the other night, and the topic of Bill Cosby came up. Seinfeld asked there,

“Should the [work] stand on its own separate of the criminality?”

And Colbert was able to convince him (quite gently) that no, you can’t separate them. Worth a watch if you are curious.

Synthrotek owner's rape jokes / thread deletion
On language writing and the creative process
Patreon(/Soundcloud) - the politics/power of the middleman
Synthrotek owner's rape jokes / thread deletion

Shouldn’t the question be (and here it’s a little more complicated than that because it’s about comedy, and especially comedy that tries to stay as far away as possible from “deep” political confrontation) but yeah, shouldn’t the question be “Should we only read/watch/listen and be interested by creators only after we made sure they’re in line with the justice, our moral compass, and our personnal political concerns?” Sure it’s a terrible topic title, but I think it’s more of the question. Here especially we’ve got another problem as with Cosby and Seinfeld you’ve got two people who are more representative of “entertainement” than “art for art” per say, but I think it’s still there. The Cosby Show says something of its time, so it’s an interesting piece of work, it says something of its time, and the fact that it’s been made by an awful rapist is actually another useful information about it (full disclosure I personnally always hated it but I only remember it doubled in french which was an absolute nightmare to say the least). It’s always a bit tricky too because we live in an era where art is a product, which means it’s like anything else, something you’ve got to buy or pay a subscription for, which kind of forces the consummer to consider he’s supporting everything he watches listen or read. It makes for a terrible way to apprehend art, as it kind of becomes a fashion tool you wear to make it clear on what side of the pond you stand. So yeah, I don’t think there’s anything “simple” about that question, but what I’m sure is, it doesn’t take a descent human being to create an interesting piece of art.

Edit: for the tl;dr >>> If a piece of art can’t, indeed, stand on its own, does that mean we should stop being interested in art created by the most despicable members of our society?


I feel there is benefit (both personal and to society at large) to making it clear to yourself (and to a lesser degree, to others) where you stand on the important issues of the day. I feel it unnecessarily diminishes the expression of this stance to regard it as a “fashion tool”.

I kind of understand your point about the corrosive effects of capitalism on artistic expression. But I’m not entirely convinced. Even in a post-monetary society, we would find some way to exchange value, value symbolic of our degree of appreciation.

Personally, my answer is yes, we should stop being interested. Lets pay our attention and energy to productive members of society, for whom their message is part of their way of life and a contribution to their community. We so desperately need this kind of community-minded contribution in society right now. Let’s save our energy for those who are already there with it. That’s my $0.02 and change.


It doesn’t take any of my energy to look at art that I find interesting or not from assholes I find dispecable. If anything, it fuels my brain and teach me to unravel a lot of things I find upsetting in our modern society, and what kind of things I want to avoid, and why, sometimes I even find myself realizing that, if I hadn’t watch or listened to certain things, I might have made mistakes I know I won’t make now. I’ll add to that, that to me, a huge quantity of art made these days is made by human beings I find very unlikable, so I’m confronted to that kind of art anyway.

I made it very very clear to myself AND to others where I stand on the important issues of the day, it has absolutely nothing to do with my previous statement. What I was saying though, is that we shouldn’t judge art only by how it confront one issue in particular, even if it’s the issue we’re very close to personally, but moreso, how it challenges society and life as a whole. What I call a fashion tool, is how some people prioritize pieces of art that have absolutely 0 content in them, just because they fit the moral prerequisite of moment, even though they have absolutely nothing to say about it when you look at it closer. It’s just so easy, and it’s now everywhere, that’s how Netflix produce half their shows, and it’s not a good thing at all.

To finish, I pay attention and energy to the point I dedicated my life to make those I consider disregarded productive members of society feel more included and supported, so I completely agree that’s the end game, that’s just not the entire journey.


I think the work of an artist is symbolically mediated by the artist’s professional identity, which acts like a causal nexus, nesting the work’s place in history and the world.

Not only is it impossible to separate the two, but I think this tendency to want to remove identity from having anything to do with the work can be understood as a type of “rugged masculinity”, (as per Timothy Morton’s Queer Ecology).

Also, we might potentially even understand it as a type of symbolic negation of maternal femininity (as per Tara Rogers’ Pink Noises), in that it represents a fantasy in which the means of artistic reproduction here is rendered invisible.


if we’re talking about people who use the power they derive from their work to hurt and damage others, then no. they don’t separate themselves from their work when they use their position and privileges to cause those pains, so they don’t deserve to glean any benefit of us doing it for them. they cash that check when they make their choices.

their work as artists should never be allowed to overshadow their work as abusers.


I should add that I wouldn’t buy anything from someone who’s a known abuser, rapist, killer, whatever awful thing you could think about, nor do anything to enforce their position of power when they do have one. But then again, I think it’s looking at the topic through too small a lense. Maybe that’s all we’re saying here though? Should we give assholes more power by considering their work still make them deserving of “something”, despite what they’ve done? In this case no, as far as I’m concerned they can rot in jail (although jail’s a whole other topic) and should be stripped out of the fortune they didn’t deserve in a first place anyway. But that won’t happen.

To me, a criminal’s a criminal, the work of the criminal is the work of the criminal (it doesn’t make it straight bad or good, but it’s the work of a criminal and should be treated as such), and criminals should be held accountable for their acts (which mostly they’re not).

Anyway, I didn’t even especially want to get into this conversation as it’s a tiring one I think but hey, I sometimes can’t keep my mouth shut even if it makes me feel terrible afterward.


consider how often the art comes after the reputation, versus the reputation coming out after the art is known.

i mean it’s sortof interesting to look at george W’s new paintings with the perspective of recent history. but then again i’m not giving anyone money by looking at an image on the web.

alternatively, i can’t really enjoy beck anymore, post scientology.

so i’m not sure where that gets us.


oh totally! is the wider lense along the lines of “can we separate a kanye album from kanye west” (as boring a q as that is)? i got pretty fired up when i saw “synthrotek rape joke” in the OP, so i assumed we were talking about the current cultural landscape of hollywood producer apologists.


Context changes everything.
Which means the work never stands on it’s own.
That’s what I think anyway.


this discomfort with acknowledging that there have been genius shitbags all through history.


I was, but it’s OK if others weren’t.


And also, the uneasy feeling of understanding that everyone has good reasons for doing what they do…


Yeah it’s just, the question is broader (and lines is kind of the place where we CONSTANTLY dive into wider notions… ISN’T IT??)


good as in valid, yes, oy


it is, it is. thinking broadly, it was a weird thing to realize that a lot of my heroes when i was 18 were assholes. for every young man dog-earring a copy of On The Road, there’s an absent father pouring another one.


There was a different thread about an hour ago with a link to the Reddit conversation. Was it deleted by the OP or was it taken down by a mod without acknowledgment? The same thing happened on Muff’s. I’m just curious as to the reasoning.


Thank you @trickyflemming. I am also very curious about the answer to that question.


I think there’s something confusing sometimes (but also absolutely necessary if we want to question human psyché) in how the work of people you’d hate or who are actual criminals can raise so many essential questions, and elevate itself. I think maybe there’s a problem with how we’re fooled into seeing something interesting or even beautiful as equal to its creator, I think questionning the fact that beauty can also come from the gutter, from the ugly ones among us, I think it is something we shouldn’t dismiss, we should just dismiss the authors. But then we also live in a world built on injustice, STRUCTURALLY built on injustice, and so there’s resentment, justified resentment, and it becomes unbearable I think. For us it’s a coping mecanism, our sort of very own justice that we just get ridd of everything they make, that we, at least, sanction them in our own intimate kingdom, if the world won’t do it.

Edit : (Hence, to me, the difference between the practical, intimate answer, and the broader, political and philosophical answer)


I noticed that too…weird.

Anyways, regarding whether or not the work should stand on it’s own, I can’t support that company and have a clear conscience.