Kevin Hart was recently taken to task over comments and/or jokes he made on his Twitter feed in 2011. As a result he decided to step down as host of an awards show. Al Franken lost his job as a representative in part because of a picture he took in poor taste (and some other things, but that is where the outrage began) over 13 years ago. Both apologized. Believing their actions were funny and or acceptable at the time of their actions have since evolved into different people with different perspectives. Not that apologies solve every problem (it is a place to start at least), but neither does roasting someone over a fire…that’s a different chat we can have later though.
I directly relate these cultural conversations to how we as artists often experiment, try new subject matter and techniques that don’t always work out. Maybe you should have done more research? Maybe all of the work in that red, white, and purple phase you were going through should be burned? Maybe you shouldn’t have written ten songs about cheese and posted them on SoundCloud?
These individuals engaged in either activities or behavior that many years later doesn’t reflect on them in the best way. But I don’t feel it is my job as someone looking at their past actions to be their judge, nor is it really the right of any of us to judge them in the fickle court of public opinion; especially through the lens of social media which has shown itself to be inaccurate at best. I do think it is my job as a fellow human being and artist to ask: What have I done in my past that might not reflect well on the person I’ve evolved into today? How proud would I be of all the artwork I did in college? Would I be willing to pull it all out of boxes, portfolios, and closets for the world to see? Am I willing to stand behind all of the art choices I made in high school?
My point? We all make mistakes or simply have done things at various times in our lives that we wouldn’t think shows the best of who we are as people in our current manifestation. Can’t we have the opportunity to move beyond who we’ve been to become who we should be without being punished for the entirety of our life? I think so.
Don’t we evolve as humans and professionally? Shouldn’t others be given the opportunity to as well?