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When is it right to denounce music and stop playing it?

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#61
The Romans used to have the institution of "Damnatio Memoriae". When a public character was found guilty of particularly atrocious crimes, or was on the losing side to a particularly aggressive winner, all effigies were removed, all documents were corrected or destroyed, even at the cost of damaging statues or monuments.
It is an attempt to change the past and pretend it never happened.
Is this what we want?
Or should we be mature enough to understand the world like it is, condemn and mourn the tragedies, punish the responsible and accept that evil was not the only product of their life?
 

rdenney

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#62
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

If a person is caught and punished for a crime, or held responsible in civil court for a tort, then that is their punishment. Erasing them from the good that they can do prevents their atonement in human terms (their eternal atonement is another matter, but that’s not my job). It’s as bad as condemning them to slavery. I find it ironic that those who once complained of judgmental parents and society lead the way in that characteristic these days.

“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”

Rick “still thinks Dutoit’s Planets is one of the best” Denney
 

JohnBooty

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#63
The Romans used to have the institution of "Damnatio Memoriae" [...]
Is this what we want?
No.

But on the bright side, literally nobody is asking for that so... that's cool. Feel free to cite counterexamples.
If a person is caught and punished for a crime, or held responsible in civil court for a tort, then that is their punishment. Erasing them from the good that they can do...
I'm not really a fan of mob justice, even when I agree with a particular mob, but re: "erasing"...

It's not like there's an official Board of Cancellation. Nobody's names are being stricken from records.

In a very literal sense, "canceling" is just a bloc of people saying "hey... let's not give person or corporation XYZ our money any more because we don't like what they do."

Seems like solid capitalism to me.

9 times out of 10 it seems to me that the "cancelers" weren't exactly going to be lining the pockets of the "canceled" anyway. Didn't a lot of pearl-clutchers "cancel" Lil Nas X after his satanic video? As if 55 year-old Dolores from Rotary Club was going to his next concert, but now she isn't.
 

rdenney

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#65
No.

But on the bright side, literally nobody is asking for that so... that's cool. Feel free to cite counterexamples.

I'm not really a fan of mob justice, even when I agree with a particular mob, but re: "erasing"...

It's not like there's an official Board of Cancellation. Nobody's names are being stricken from records.

In a very literal sense, "canceling" is just a bloc of people saying "hey... let's not give person or corporation XYZ our money any more because we don't like what they do."

Seems like solid capitalism to me.

9 times out of 10 it seems to me that the "cancelers" weren't exactly going to be lining the pockets of the "canceled" anyway. Didn't a lot of pearl-clutchers "cancel" Lil Nas X after his satanic video? As if 55 year-old Dolores from Rotary Club was going to his next concert, but now she isn't.
My use of "erasing" wasn't erasing from history. It's erasing them from any opportunity to do good in the future. That does not mean there are no consequences, but it's important, I think, to separate official punishment from public punishment. History is replete with examples of public punishment, perhaps driven by a vocal few, but driven by popular momentum. I can't think of many of those examples that history looks kindly on. Popular movements can gather so much momentum that nobody notices when they go too far, until the response has become grossly disproportionate.

I once asked someone who works in corrections why we provided certain care for prisoners (I think the topic was special diets not driven by medical necessity). He told me that the incarceration is the punishment, not foul treatment while being incarcerated. That stuck with me as being a sensible principle to help us moderate our natural loss of any sense of proportion when the crimes being punished offend us particularly.

"Capitalism" simply means that the means of production are owned privately, and that the owners of the means of production have a mechanism by which they can involve other investors as owners. That is all that it means. I think you are confusing it with free markets, which is different. But markets rule by exclusion--they don't buy the product. What we have seen is not market force, but rather group pressures applied at political as well as market levels. That is not always wrong, of course, but let's recognize it for what it is.

Rick "trying to be clear" Denney
 

Robin L

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#66
I suspect such criticisms would apply at least as much for well known rock stars. Who is prepared to cancel the Beatles? Zappa? Van Morrison? "So young and bold, 14 years old." Some stars seem to avoid such exposure of their youthful folly. Some, like Kim Fowley, get canceled. But Paul McCartney?

In any case, I'm not getting rid of my Elizabeth Schwarzkopf or Karl Bohm recordings either.
 

JohnBooty

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#67
My use of "erasing" wasn't erasing from history. It's erasing them from any opportunity to do good in the future.
I think that's a myopic view of how things work in a free market. If I decide not to support Artist ABC any more, it's not like I'm taking my money and burning it. It's going to Artist XYZ instead because I've judged they're more deserving.

What's the alternative? I should just keep giving it to ABC? Well, okay, but my paycheck is finite and now XYZ doesn't get an "oppurtunity to do good."
I once asked someone who works in corrections why we provided certain care for prisoners (I think the topic was special diets not driven by medical necessity). He told me that the incarceration is the punishment, not foul treatment while being incarcerated. That stuck with me as being a sensible principle to help us moderate our natural loss of any sense of proportion when the crimes being punished offend us particularly.
Amen to that! Prison should be a place where we try and get offenders to a place where they can rejoin society in a positive way. It should not be a place of cruelty -- it serves no good purpose and is awful on multiple levels.

But I don't think this is relevant to choice in a free market. Anybody in a free market has to compete for dollars based on what matters to the people spending those dollars. That's not cruelty. If I decide not to support Artist ABC (for whatever reason) I'm not depriving them of their ability to earn a living. They're not losing their license to play guitar. I'm simply not supporting them.

"Capitalism" simply means that the means of production are owned privately, and that the owners of the means of production have a mechanism by which they can involve other investors as owners. That is all that it means. I think you are confusing it with free markets, which is different
Right on.
 

paulraphael

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#68
This topic comes up often these days. It's a frustrating one, because it conflates so many seemingly similar issues. Which of the following are we talking about?
  • Honoring a person or their memory
  • Honoring a person's work
  • Enjoying a person's work
  • Learning from a person's work because of its quality or its contributions to a medium's historical evolution
  • Financially supporting a person (including buying a record / book / painting when the artist is still living
These all present different questions, which is why I think it's a mistake to lump every historical asshole together.
As an arbitrary set of examples, consider:
  • Martin Heidegger (one of the most important philosophers of the 20th century, who joined the nazi party and for and for a portion of his career wrote works that defended nazism. Long dead).
  • Pablo Picasso (one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, who has been revealed as a misogynist and total dick. Long dead).
  • Woody Allen (an important, arguably flawed 20th century film maker who ... you know the sordid details. Not yet dead).
For all of them, I would argue strongly against writing them out of history, because we'd just be cheating ourselves out of the valuable contributions they've made.

I would argue against lionizing them or holding them as role models—no statues, children's books, action figures—because they're all assholes and we'd like them and their memories to be punished.

I'd argue strongly for continuing to teach their work in schools, because this is the perfect forum for putting both the valuable and the reprehensible in context. It's also an opportunity to revisit where, if at all, they belong in their respective canons. Heidegger presents a special problem, because we're interested specifically in his ideas—and some of them were awful. So this inevitably leads to a much larger conversation.

When it comes to spending money on their work, I think of them differently. Woody Allen? I'm not giving him any money. If I have an old DVD around I'll watch it. Maybe I'll pirate his movies. But Picasso and Heidegger? Sure I'll go to exhibitions and buy books. Who would I be trying to punish by opting out?
 

rdenney

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#70
I think that's a myopic view of how things work in a free market.
At least I persuaded you to use "free market" instead of capitalism. :)

Rick "a capitalist who sometimes--just sometimes--agrees with controls on the free market" Denney
 

rdenney

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#71
This topic comes up often these days. It's a frustrating one, because it conflates so many seemingly similar issues. Which of the following are we talking about?
  • Honoring a person or their memory
  • Honoring a person's work
  • Enjoying a person's work
  • Learning from a person's work because of its quality or its contributions to a medium's historical evolution
  • Financially supporting a person (including buying a record / book / painting when the artist is still living
These all present different questions, which is why I think it's a mistake to lump every historical asshole together.
As an arbitrary set of examples, consider:
  • Martin Heidegger (one of the most important philosophers of the 20th century, who joined the nazi party and for and for a portion of his career wrote works that defended nazism. Long dead).
  • Pablo Picasso (one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, who has been revealed as a misogynist and total dick. Long dead).
  • Woody Allen (an important, arguably flawed 20th century film maker who ... you know the sordid details. Not yet dead).
For all of them, I would argue strongly against writing them out of history, because we'd just be cheating ourselves out of the valuable contributions they've made.

I would argue against lionizing them or holding them as role models—no statues, children's books, action figures—because they're all assholes and we'd like them and their memories to be punished.

I'd argue strongly for continuing to teach their work in schools, because this is the perfect forum for putting both the valuable and the reprehensible in context. It's also an opportunity to revisit where, if at all, they belong in their respective canons. Heidegger presents a special problem, because we're interested specifically in his ideas—and some of them were awful. So this inevitably leads to a much larger conversation.

When it comes to spending money on their work, I think of them differently. Woody Allen? I'm not giving him any money. If I have an old DVD around I'll watch it. Maybe I'll pirate his movies. But Picasso and Heidegger? Sure I'll go to exhibitions and buy books. Who would I be trying to punish by opting out?
I'm completely in favor of individual considered decisions.

But I hate sweeping movements which attract people superficially or out of context, and to which they join without those deep and careful considerations. Historical examples of those sweeping movements generally don't look good to us now, even when they were based on truth.

Rick "wondering what history will say about this period" Denney
 

gene_stl

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#72
Someone like James Levine who has a contract, an agent,a lawyer , and is a cash cow, does not get dismissed from a place like the Met where he has been a star unless the allegations have been proven to be true, and repetitive and nontrivial.

Garrison Keillor who was similarly accused and dismissed from NPR was a raving hilarious genius that I used to listen to. He did protest about his long career being reduced to nothing. In both cases I don't know nor want to know the ugly details.

Keillor used to talk about the "courage to do what needs to be done" but I think if you don't take "no" for an answer and pester those subordinate to you , repeatedly you have probably crossed the line.

Placido Domingo has also run afoul with this.

Like Ron Texas I don't care for those who want to kill Jews. I have a few von Karajan CDs that were titles I wanted to have but mostly leave those. I have no Wagner nor Roger Waters and never will. ( I do strongly believe in freedom of association) I also detest Woody Allen and Michael Jackson both and won't allow any of their content in my house.
 

Robin L

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#73
Proving that he was way ahead of us all more than 40 years ago, Orson Welles' "The Other Side of the Wind" spends a lot of time focusing on bad behavior among the artistic immortals. The center of the film is dominated by 'Legendary' film director Jake Hannaford. Hannaford was at his Hollywood peak in the 40's, now he's begging for funds to complete his late 1960's attempt to cash in on his reputation. This movie is set in the early seventies, Hannaford's attempting to revive his career via riding the wave of independent cinema, then exemplified by "Easy Rider". Dennis Hopper has a cameo, there's a couple two-three other film directors thrown into the mix as well. There's also more than a few digs at Antonioni's "Zabriskie Point". It was Welles last film, incomplete until Netflix finalized production in 2018.

While it's easy to see Welles in Hannaford, "Legendary Film Director" John Huston plays [very plausibly] Hannaford and can be taken as an important element of the fictional director's personality. The name "Ford" within Hannaford [and some back and forth between Hannaford and Brooks Otterlake* about Hannaford's Irish ancestry and influence] point to John Ford. There's a couple of scenes where Hannaford's racism and sexism, not to mention homophobia, come out in full force, and by the time the film is over, one learns to despise Hannaford. Some of the moments included in the edited version we get to see are among the worst of Orson Welles as regards both his filmed work and the man himself. Some are among his best.

The ideas we're discussing now concerning artists, their bad behavior and drawing the line for "bad actors" is the true center of this movie.

The Other Side of the Wind | Netflix Official Site
This is a "making of" documentary that's more entertaining than the movie:
They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead | Netflix Official Site

*Hannaford's "Disciple", and also a commercially more successful director at the time the film was set, which was also true in real life as Otterlake is played by Peter Bogdanovich, who was both to Welles.
 

TimF

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#74
I suspect that a good proportion of Hollywood stars are despicable beyond your imagination. The same for famous military leaders. The same, but in differing proportion, for priests, ministers and rabbis. "They" sure did a number on Peewee Herman but his was a lesser crime relative to those kinds of crimes. If I had a bona fide actual recording of Adolf Hitler singing Christmas songs I know I could make money selling those recordings. If you put it on the shelf people will buy it.
 

Ron Texas

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#75
Someone like James Levine who has a contract, an agent,a lawyer , and is a cash cow, does not get dismissed from a place like the Met where he has been a star unless the allegations have been proven to be true, and repetitive and nontrivial.

Garrison Keillor who was similarly accused and dismissed from NPR was a raving hilarious genius that I used to listen to. He did protest about his long career being reduced to nothing. In both cases I don't know nor want to know the ugly details.

Keillor used to talk about the "courage to do what needs to be done" but I think if you don't take "no" for an answer and pester those subordinate to you , repeatedly you have probably crossed the line.

Placido Domingo has also run afoul with this.

Like Ron Texas I don't care for those who want to kill Jews. I have a few von Karajan CDs that were titles I wanted to have but mostly leave those. I have no Wagner nor Roger Waters and never will. ( I do strongly believe in freedom of association) I also detest Woody Allen and Michael Jackson both and won't allow any of their content in my house.
In the last decade or so we have seen the rise of cancel culture and the woke nightmare. We are seeing all sorts of careers ended for not much of anything. You probably haven't missed that there is asymmetrical application of these purges depending on who the supposed violator is and their political affiliation or identity group.
 

AdamG247

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#76
Hey Guys, as general rule we prohibit the discussion of Politics. While I am not trying to Cancel this discussion, please refrain from any further discussion of Politics. Take it to PM is you wish. :cool: Thank you Gentlemen.
 

Alexanderc

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#77
If I can get back to the original topic (and if I can't, a moderator should delete my post and end the discussion, no worries), James Levine is dead now, so no worry about supporting him. So many people were complicit in that debacle that you probably can't avoid an opera recording with someone involved who did something wrong, knew something and covered it up, etc. Hell, even I knew there was SOMETHING going on with Levine 20 years ago. It was just third hand information, but it turned out to be half true.

I have recordings of Wagner; he was horrible and I won't program his music on a concert. I'm not taking a hammer to the Wagner CDs, although I doubt I would buy more. Same with the Cleveland quartet or Cleveland Symphony--I have recordings, and I'm keeping them, but I would have to think hard about buying more. I won't let my students perform anything by Stephen Foster. I'm sure there are more. It's still appropriate to talk about all of these people in class so they know what happened and can make good choices in their own careers.
 

paulraphael

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#78
I have recordings of Wagner; he was horrible and I won't program his music on a concert. I'm not taking a hammer to the Wagner CDs, although I doubt I would buy more.
I'd be curious to hear a more fine-grained explanation of your thinking here, especially with regards to Wagner and Foster. Are you worried that a public performance of their work constitutes an endorsement or acceptance of their behavior?

I understand that many people do, and that this puts anyone who's curating a concert series or anthology or public collection in a tough place. It strikes me as problematic though. Philosophically and practically.

Philosophically because it doesn't follow that a terrible person can't do good work, or work that benefits people in significant ways. Much of 20th century critical theory was about exposing the fallacies that we can understand a work by understanding (or trying to) the person who made it.

And it's a practical problem because the harder we train a spotlight on historical figures, the harder it's going to be to find acceptable ones. I don't buy the various "great artists are assholes" narratives, but sadly, most people have deep flaws if you look hard enough. Especially people who are the product of times with more lenient attitudes toward various horrors (misogyny, class oppression, slavery, etc.)

I wonder if it would do more of a public good to separate artists from their work (not living ones ... they can still be held to task). Program Wagner into a concert, but don't make the program notes hagiographic. Talk frankly about why he's problematic. Use it as an educational opportunity.

Many people will question why someone like Wagner is so entrenched in the canon to the exclusion of other worthy artists, especially ones who are non-white, non-european, non-male, etc. These questions also need to be addressed! But they're not the same question.
 
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