#MeToo In India and NOT Separating the Art from the Artist

-Deep Jagdeep Singh-

In the light of #MeToo campaign blogger and author Mahevash Shaikh, well known for 'Bursting Cliches', put forward an Idea of "Separating The Art From The Artist".

This age old debate surfaces in many forms at various junctures of time. In Punjabi literature celebrated poet of love and longing, Shiv Kumar Batalvi, was ridiculed for his alcoholism and Casanova image. But the numbers of lovers for his immortal art of poetry kept swelling with each new generation and still unstoppable.


It is the right point of time to discuss whether we should separate the art from the Artist for the lack of morality or can we name and shame the artist while devouring his art?



Actually, we are so much pre-occupied with the idealism about the artists. We are taught that artists are idols of society and there must be no gap between what they say and what they do. But what we miss that they are humans. And every human being is born with these basic five follies Kaama (Lust), Krodha (Anger), Lobha (Greed), Moha (attachment), Ankara (Ego). All the religious philosophies and forms of spirituality emphasize on taming these follies. But instead of enlightening us about how to balance ourselves under the pressure of these overpowering follies, we are taught to suppress them which is not possible.


A human is an artist only in that moment when he is passing through the labour pains of delivering his art. Before and after that, he is a simple human being mostly over-powered by his own follies.

No doubt an artist is more aware and conscious about these follies and he has a moral responsibility to stay stain free. And we must expect that s/he should be more balanced than common lot. But this is not an easy task, even the biggest tapassavis and yogis could not do that in the history as well as mythology. That also doesn’t mean that we should let them get off scot-free. Even we find the instances of the sages being cursed and left to burn in the fire of their own follies.

Thus campaigns like #MeToo are the right kind of movements of naming, shaming and cursing such artists in the public sphere for corrupting the sanctity of the image of an artist. Wherever and whenever possible they should be passed through the legal framework and should be punished accordingly. Social boycott is also an option floated since ages, but this social boycott must be implemented only in his personal social space until he practically mends his ways. 

I won’t endorse boycotting his art because when the art comes in public space it doesn’t remain the sole property of the artist, but becomes the common property of art-lovers. They shouldn’t be deprived from enjoying the art they had loved. Also those art lovers should not be judged for their choice of art of an artist accused as predator. Art-lovers had loved the artist because of his art not just because he is an artist. Contrarily, I would suggest sensitizing the art lovers that they should not blindly and emotionally idealize the artists as demigods and they must take precautions while interacting with them.


And campaigns like #MeToo will teach them to behave like sensitive human beings so that people could interact with them without any fear and lack of trust.

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