Stevie G: Jackson doc’ is a challenge to us all

The debate surrounding whether we can separate an artist from his or her art is very interesting, and it’s something many of us have been contemplating lately, so says Stevie G in his weekly column
Stevie G: Jackson doc’ is a challenge to us all

Dan Reed’s two-part documentary Leaving Neverland centred on allegations that Michael Jackson had abused two children.

THE music industry — and indeed all of us music fans — face some interesting questions regarding the fall-out from the recently-aired Leaving Neverland documentaries.

Hollywood was shaken to its core as allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment led to the #MeToo movement, but in terms of music, things were always likely to become even more interesting.

The debate surrounding whether we can separate an artist from his or her art is very interesting, and it’s something many of us have been contemplating lately.

It was possibly easier to consign actors or movie directors to the dustbin, than ubiquitous pop artists, and with Michael Jackson’s legacy now being questioned, it means we are discussing arguably the most important artist of them all. I’m not gonna get into the documentary today and I’ve no idea whether the allegations surrounding MJ or many of the other musical artists that we once revered are true, but there have always been at the very least many peculiar traits of many of these stars.

The world has pretty much left these artists, notwithstanding their own tragic upbringings, operate almost outside the boundaries we have in place for ordinary people, but that’s all gonna change now. This is a good thing. Many are comparing the alleged abuses of power to the systematic abuse by members of the clergy worldwide, and it’s a good comparison in my opinion.

How did the world let this happen? I’m not sure, but let’s hope we can ensure these abuses don’t happen in front of our eyes again.

Pop music and rock’n’roll has revelled in its notoriety and, to this day glorifies the actions of many, mostly men, who have lived a debaucherous lifestyle. This is the soundtrack to the music that generations have loved, and a blind eye was usually turned to the dubious nature of songs that often glorified older men being with teenage girls.

The fact many of these men were actually with underage girls in real life has been pretty much airbrushed out of the mythology when it comes to assessing music legends.

This is no defence for those being recently discussed though, and while some will still have the right to remain technically innocent for now, there is no doubt that some horrible abuse has taken place on multiple levels.

As music fans we are now faced with our own dilemmas.

Personally, I’ve always been aware that many of the artists I’ve known and loved musically are not great people. I’ve seen it up close after gigs sometimes, and I’ve read and heard about lots of other incidents too.

I’ve always separated the art from the artist quite easily, and managed to put a distance between them and the music, but this isn’t always so easy now. I also appreciate as a DJ it’s important to be sensitive to other possible victims of abuse.

I don’t agree with banning of music, and feel people in responsible positions should take their own decisions. Regarding music, it’s just another strand of art.

Banning artists as a whole forever could lead to some pretty draconian measures, and it would also be difficult to know when to stop. Do we ban loads of books and burn paintings too? I don’t think it’s the way forward.

I’m a keen football fan, but don’t expect fans to suddenly stop following teams because Luis Suarez or George Best did some horrible things. It’s the same with music. But I do think fans have some responsibility too.

I’m a huge fan of Kanye West and met him personally here in Cork, where he was very affable, friendly and generous with his time.

Subsequently he made some terrible noise with regard to his support of Donald Trump and comments on slavery. Ultimately, his music is still treasured by me — but it can lead to a dilemma. It’s complicated by the fact that sometimes I think he just wants to go against the grain and be contrary too.

The culture that seems to have developed lately can be disturbing, and fans as passionate as Michael Jackson’s almost look brainwashed at times when it comes to defending their hero. Yes, he has never been proven guilty. But sometimes a bit more sensitivity is required, in my opinion.

We all have some responsibility really, and hopefully the world will open its eyes better in future.

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