It’s impossible to separate the creator from the creation.
The reason I don’t like cover songs is the same reason I don’t watch Woody Allen movies.
When someone straight up plays a cover song, no matter how much flare they put into it, I am snooze town! I would rather hear the original. The original got popular because it was rad. Part of that radicallity is it felt like it was true to the person creating it.
I know that my mind is frail. I know that the original singer might have not written it. They might have been forced into doing the song by a producer or whatever. I also know that there’s an easy trick for making a cover song matter to me. All you have to do is introduce the song like “My mother died when I was 12. She used to sing this song to me. It got me through her death. It made me push to get through school. It comforted me through my divorce. I hope it gives something special tonight to someone listening…”
It’s each beholder’s story
We don’t directly experience the thing that entertainment creators make. We experience the story we attribute to the creation.
Great entertainment traditionally has controlled the story to make it the same for everyone. Now, it’s still helpful to serve the audience a story on a platter, but we as creators don’t control all of the viewer’s story. The viewer’s story includes…
- sensory experience
- their own story
- what they know of the creator’s story
- world view
No matter what a creator does, they will still have a potential audience. If a creator does something that’s generally abhorrent the majority of the population, their audience will shrink.
I don’t think most people really decide on their ethical code. They are handed some mishmash of rules for living and mostly try their best to not get caught breaking them.
I find it helpful as a maker of stuff to decide what’s ethical for me. It gives my work higher purpose, gives me a feeling of a place in the world, and informs my decisions as I grow. It also gives me some freedom to not be afraid of getting caught. I’ve treated people poorly in the past for sure, but I’m constantly working to learn more sensitivity and produce more positivity, love, and generosity.
In doing this, I can align with more audience members who share my care for the world.
If we don’t lock in to ethics, our creations will be tarnished.
I see society on a trajectory toward more equality, kinder communication, closer to our most pure intentions.
If we try to match the ethics of society now, we will be seen as crappy people later.
Sure blackface was not a big deal when Buster Keaton did it, but if he thought about what it meant, did he think it reflected his highest intention?
When audiences see our ethics as outdated, it will be hard for them to tell a story that makes our work rad.
Just look at how millenials are bothered by the TV show Friends.