Many times a society we confuse talent with character. One of the most recent examples of this is the “reevaluation” of Justin Beiber due to his, to use the technical term, absolutely bangin’ new album. As someone who mocked peers afflicted with Beiber fever back in middle school, and as someone who regards young white male popstars with a healthy dose of wariness, I have to admit, “Purpose” has made into my Spotify heavy rotation. And I have to admit, Beiber’s current bad boy, definitely-don’t take-home-to-mom look is an appealing aesthetic for a relatively straight-edge Indian chick like me. Okay, he’s hot. But unlike many of my peers, and several significantly older people on the internet, who have declared Justin Beiber absolved of his sins, I still think he’s at least partly that same cocky bro.
In my mind, I can’t help but wonder: why must a good character, or at least a decent one, be a side effect of good art? Traditionally, artists are portrayed as ruled by passions, maybe not adhering to traditional moral standards, but ultimately good at heart. They’re just finding ways to deal with their profound emotional pain (#deep). Personally, I don’t think that’s true. Hemingway was emotionally abusive to those closest to him. Dickens literally did not give a hoot about his own children (and he had 10!) There are plenty more examples, but I think its important that while art is a reflection of its creator, it isn’t an absolute or complete reflection. Good art does not equate a good soul.
Try and remember that next time you’re listening to “What Do You Mean?” and staring lustily at Justin’s Calvin Klein shoot.