Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson Dead?

Right now, as I type this, Michael Jackson is like that famous cat in that famous hypothetical experiment. 
This has lead me to think about the way recently, in the run-up to his London "come-back" gigs, that everyone seems to have forgotten the controversy that has dogged Jacko in the last decade. I'm not sure if giving children alcohol whilst they're having a sleepover at your house is now acceptable? Or whether the large and frequent out-of-court settlements point to anything? Bu still, the way the radio is talking now, it seems like it doesn't matter in the long-run. 
This leads to a question that has interested me for about the last 17 years: 

Should an artist's art be judged by how they have acted in their personal life? 

Should Salvador Dali's art be shunned because he tried to rape one of his models? 
Should Egon Scheile's art be shunned because he had a penchant for underage girls? 
Should Gary Glitter's art be shunned for similar reasons? 
Should Paul Gaugin's art be shunned because he had a thing for exploiting underage natives from his trips abroad? 
Should Jackson Pollock's art be shunned because he was an murdering alcoholic? 
Should Michael Jackson's art be.....


goneforeign said...

I think 'Michael Jackson's art' is an oxymoron.

DarceysDad said...

Yes, it's a thorny issue.

Having been forced to review my stance as a result of the Noir Desir discussion, it would appear I have subconsciously arrived at a position.

During the French songs weekend, I commented on really enjoying discovering Noir Desir. But as soon as I found out about Bertrand Cantat, I stopped listening. End of. Gary Glitter, Michael Jackson, same story. In the case of Wacko Jacko (I've called him that for over a decade, I'm not gonna stop now), it is impossible for us mere spectators to know the real truth of the Chandler episode, but I lost it with that idiot the very second he held his son over that hotel balcony.

In the case of Mr. Gadd, the singer I used to call "Leader" at the annual December gigs is guilty in my eyes not so much of following his predilections, but of denying them consistently thereafter. Again, the once loved albums sit on the shelf totally ignored.

But if you ask the conscious me the question about that judgement, I couldn't be so clear cut.

Strange . . . or is it?

Dunno, and it's midnight, so I'm outta here!

DarceysDad said...

RR not appeared?

GU techies too busy glued to the news websites about Jacko, maybe?

Hallo-o-o-o! Anyone else in tonight??

snadfrod said...

I'm not sure how I feel about this right now. I think that people tend to be very adept at separating art from artist, especially when that art is as lauded or successful as Jackson's has been.

The tributes and the reaction will be so powerful and so extreme that any sense of rationale or perspective will be blown away for a good while yet.

I was too young to be caught up in any idea of his wider importance either in terms of sales or as a live showman, but I wouldn't deny that his collaborations were often brilliant.

It is sad yet at least partly understandable that he lived his life the way he did. I am shocked like anyone else, but can't bring myself to be moved.

Nevertheless, RIP.

tincanman said...

i just chill in the waiting room
then go to bed

sourpus said...

Surely every pop and rock journalist worth his salt will be tuned in to the Jacko machine tonight. Paul MacInnes as well.

Tim (Kalyr) said...

No sign of RR - I'm off to bed...

Hope Michael enjoys having his next gig (backed by a band playing push-button harps) reviewed by Swells.

Unless they both end up in the other place, in which case it will be accordions....

snadfrod said...

Yup, I reckon everyone is otherwise engaged tonight...

A man on News24 is making a plea that he be remembered 'not for all the court cases, but as a genuine musical eccentric genius, like Mozart, Beethoven and all those.'

It is quite amusing to see how the news is having to be filtered wholesale through a Glastonbury filter, though. "I hope it doesn't define this Glastonbury", someone just said. OK. I think it may be bedtime.


goneforeign said...

but as a genuine musical eccentric genius, like "who"?

goneforeign said...

What a lovely cat picture.

DarceysDad said...

Is it just me, or have Internet response times dropped through the floor since the announcement of WJ's death?

By the time I go back to RR after posting this, the mothership still won't have finished updating!

Shoegazer said...

Oddly, am more affected by the death of Swells - strange day.

Gary Glitter, Phil Specter, Pete Townsend - where do you draw a line? Think you have to judge the "work" on it's own merits.

gordonimmel said...

My attitude is that you should atleast bear in mind the nature and character of the artist in question but I'm not in favour of banning or shunning because, basically, where do you stop?

We've had discussions on the mothership in the last few weeks about the alleged political affiliations of various pop/rock stars and whether or not they should be listened to. But does this mean that I have to vet all musicians to check that they agree with my centre-left politics. On this blog we may universally abhore the BNP but at what stage of the spectrum does right wing politics become acceptable? Should I burn the records of all David Cameron supporting popstars? And then there's the other fringe. Any SWP supporters in the pop lexicon? Any admirers of Uncle Joe? Maybe I should delete them from my itunes aswell?

But then where do you stop? And isn't such censorship what we spent most of the 20th Century struggling against? Remember, up until 50 years ago an artist's career could be ruined by rumours of infidelity, homosexuality or nude photos. We don't condemn them for that now, so why introduce another set of censorious criteria. Ostracism is ostracism whatever the reasons and I believe that the urge to ostracise or separate in Human societies should always be resisted otherwise you end up with societies where even speaking to a woman or a stranger is considered 'unclean'

I think you should bear artists foibles in mind and see where that puts you. So the man who put the bang in gang wasn't, after all, thinking of an orgy between condsenting adults but a session with a couple of Vietnamese schoolgirls. So if you do listen to the song, you can let that colour your judgement but we shouldn't create lists of 'Approved' and 'Unapproved' artists.

(Rant over)

DarceysDad said...

Not a rant, Gordon. I'd say perfectly well put. The rational conscious me agrees with every word you say; the emotional subconscious me can't bring himself to listen any more. But importantly, would I stop anyone else from listening? No I would not, and that's my personal (if somewhat convoluted) rejection of your 'censorship leads to ...' argument.

cauliflower said...

I'd go with Gordon's not very ranting rant too.

I've never met an artist or anyone else who was wholly wholesome. We could broaden the term 'artist' to include musicians, painters, gardeners, electronic engineers etc. In fact, let's just say people. I know artists can have more widespread and emotional impact, but the thought experiment applies to all of us.

There are some prize gits working for London Underground, but that won't stop me taking the tube... and some extremely unpleasant folk collecting my bins, but I'll still put my rubbish out. But what I know of them makes me think about it all each time, so every contact is tainted - but I believe thinking about things has the power to change the world.

I'll never be able to listen to Glitter again the same way - things change, that's life. But we need to hear/read/think/discuss to understand anything of history, so I wouldn't ban any of it.

BalearicBeat said...

The difference being though, Cauliflower, that if you really love music as we all do, you have an emotional investment in an artist that you don't have with your bin-man or tube-driver. When a part of that is betrayed by their actions or words, then something does change in your relationship with them. The degree to which it does depends to a large extent on what those actions or words are. I don't have the same respect I used to have for Morrissey after his statements about immigration, but I still love The Smiths. On the other hand, Michael Jackson's totally unacceptable behaviour in regards to children, even in terms of the aspects that have actually been acknowledged to have taken place in court, have made it impossibly uncomfortable for me to consider playing his records whilst DJing for many years, despite still recognising the quality of much of his earlier material. The extent to which you can divorce the person from the music is a very personal thing and, as DSD said, I don't think anyone is suggesting censorship other than that which you feel appropriate for yourself. For me, certain things just can't be overlooked and that is how I'm currently feeling about the revisionist short-term-memory syndrome that seems to dominating the media coverage of Michael Jackson's death.

cauliflower said...

I'm watching Glasto on't telly at my folks' house, nothing else to do here, and was just thinking how raddled Neil Young looks... I'll probably never be able to think of him again as he was for me back when I first heard him.

I agree with you (BalearicBeat) that music involves a greater emotional relationship than most other activities, so that when an artist transgresses, we feel it more. I suppose I chose my examples (unconsiously) because of the emotional impact those roles have for me personally, so I do feel ambivalent about, for example, dustbin men, because my uncle was one until Thatcher's policies meant his colleagues ostracised him, with terrible consequences.

I find there's a fight between heart and mind when listening to anyone on DsD's list. But I don't think the mind automatically wins, for me at least. I can hear early Jackson and love it for its musicality (much of which I'm sure Quincy Jones was responsible for) and separate it from his life. I can feel similarly about classical composers, painters, sculptors, explorers... maybe that's just me. I felt the same visiting the pyramids, built at the cost of hundreds if not thousands of lives. I think it has to be possible sometimes to at least try to engage with what's presented rather than the biographical context.

I don't really feel much about Jackson's death, he never really touched me as a person, I just liked some of the music. I cried spontaneously when I heard Lowell George had died, and probably will again when L. Cohen hangs up his hat.

But I do remember Swells, working with him a bit. A good guy.

saneshane said...

I'm hoping Lenny Cohen is an infinite experiment by a devil and a god to see if the expression "it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all" has any significance..
it will continue until I'm long gone.. sorry Mr.Cohen but your taking the knocks to enrich us.. thanks.

TonNL said...

Agree fully with gordonimmel's (non-)rant, also enjoyed reading Sean O'Hagan's opinion in the Observer:
I agree fully with his analysis of "Don't stop 'til you get enough", one of the greatest records ever, the fact that MJ turned into a total freak later in his life doesn't make that song unlistenable to me, the same goes for Noir Desir......