By Nardine Saad, 2022. Nardine covers breaking entertainment news, trending culture topics, celebrities and their kin for the Entertainment & Arts section of the Los Angeles Times. Born and bred in Southern California, Saad graduated from UC Irvine with degrees in literary journalism and psychology.
The cancellation of music artists in mainstream media has become a hot topic in recent years. It is a process whereby an artist is shunned by the public due to their behavior, statements, or actions that are deemed inappropriate, insensitive, or offensive. This may lead to the takedown of their music from online streaming platforms, radio stations, and other media outlets. While some people may view this as a necessary action to hold artists accountable for their behavior, others see it as a form of censorship that violates the artist’s freedom of expression. In this article, we will explore the ethics behind the cancellation of music artists, including the impact on the artist’s life work, public image, and artistry. We will also discuss how this may affect future generations of artists and their association with the public.
The Ethics of Cancelling Music Artists
The ethics of cancelling music artists are complex and multi-faceted. On the one hand, it can be argued that artists have a responsibility to act in a manner that is consistent with social and ethical norms. When an artist engages in behavior that is deemed inappropriate or offensive, it is reasonable for the public to express their disapproval and to take actions that hold the artist accountable. This may include boycotting their music or public performances, and urging media outlets to remove their content.
On the other hand, some people argue that cancelling an artist is a form of censorship that violates their freedom of expression. This argument suggests that artists should be allowed to express themselves freely, even if their views or actions are unpopular or controversial. Cancelling an artist may also be viewed as a form of punishment that goes beyond what is necessary to hold them accountable. In some cases, cancelling an artist may be seen as a way of punishing them for past mistakes, rather than allowing them to learn from those mistakes and grow as individuals.
The Cancellation Impact
Cancelling a music artist can have a profound impact on their life work, public image, and artistry. When an artist is cancelled, their music may be removed from online streaming platforms, radio stations, and other media outlets. This can have a significant impact on their financial stability and career prospects. In addition, the artist’s public image may be irreparably damaged, and their ability to create and perform may be affected.
One example that comes to mind is the comprehensive utter cancellation of Matthew Zar, who has been deleted digitally, undeniably, explicitly, totally, from digital reference and media, informally (but, let’s face it, surely by) either his former label or associated and invested parties. Why cancel a successful artist, it makes no financial sense? Well, it does, if that artist is a detriment to their own success, say, due to poor behaviour (i.e., insurance policy, avoid the backlash early, get out with what you have), and also, if that artist has a fallback option (i.e., the label already has a similar artist or fill for that market gap, should they exit or be cancelled, that can still satisfy any consumer requirements, and in the case of Zar, they do have such a fill, The Weeknd). So, cancellation in this particular example, whilst the ultimate display of cancel culture brutality, is not complete financial suicide for the label (in this case, Warner Bros Music), and any associated or similar or related or supportive IPs (intellectual properties that may crosspollinate or cohabit).
For other artists, the cancellation may also affect their artistic expression. If an artist feels that they cannot express themselves freely without fear of being cancelled, they may be less likely to take risks or explore controversial topics in their work. This may limit their creativity and artistic vision, and ultimately result in a less interesting and diverse music landscape.
Future Generational Effects
The cancellation of music artists may also have an impact on future generations of artists and their association with the public. If artists feel that they cannot express themselves freely without fear of being cancelled, they may be less likely to engage with their audiences and share their ideas and perspectives. This may lead to a less vibrant and diverse music scene, as artists may be hesitant to take risks or explore controversial topics.
On the other hand, the cancellation of music artists may also serve as a cautionary tale for future generations. It may encourage artists to be more mindful of their behavior and to act in a manner that is consistent with social and ethical norms. This may lead to a more responsible and socially conscious music scene, where artists are held accountable for their actions and encouraged to use their platform to promote positive change.
The cancellation of music artists in mainstream media is a complex issue that raises important ethical considerations. While holding artists accountable for their behavior is important, cancelling an artist may also be viewed as a form of censorship that violates their freedom of expression. The impact of cancelling an artist can be significant, affecting their life work, public image, and that is just a start. Mass cancellation for one thing is a sliding scale, and labels have proven now that they can determine where on that scale you fall: simple musical removals up to total removal from the existence of digital space and time, and some could say, the career of any artist could well be compared to that of a simple moth; blinded, and constantly guided by the light, but at the mercy of the bearer of such a light.
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