Should artists be given free reign in the producing and displaying works that are offensive, objectionable, or disparaging of certain people’s beliefs and values? What responsibilities do artists have to their society? What responsibilities does the society have to its artists?
The topic of music and censorship is very broad and has long been discussed in different situations and times. Usually, the government, which should secure its citizens from the possible threats and harms, claims that offensive and objectionable creations in any sphere of art should be banned. Musicians and those who follow rather extreme forms of democratic rights, tend to say that such restrictions limit their right for self-realization, which is unfair in relation to them. In this paper I will explain why I consider that artists should not be given free reign in this sphere, based on the responsibilities they have in the society.
First of all, it is necessary to understand how society perceives music and artists. People who create and perform music are usually well-known to the general public and often serve as role models for teenagers (Sparrow, 2009). Often people have romantic and other stories that are directly related to certain songs and bands. The way artists live and behave influences the life of its fans considerably, which also has an effect on society in general.
The fact that the most vulnerable part of society in terms of moral beliefs and psychology – teenagers – is the most influenced by the music should be especially considered when we think about censorship in this field. If we want to live in a healthy and happy society, we should do our best to raise strong individuals that have all the necessary qualities developed, conforming to the national laws and living in harmony with nature and each other.
When music is not censored, there can be a lot of offensive pieces around the young members of society. Usually, these offensive pieces contain a lot of aggression and negativism towards life. There are different reasons why some musicians want to create such objectionable pieces – it can be due to some difficult moments in the childhood, lack of understanding from the society members, etc (Hald, 2001). But hat is the worst in their self-realization is that people who could have had better and more interesting life can refuse from it just because they want to be like their favorite artists. To do it, they can start drinking too much alcohol, smoking and other forms of destructive activities.
Even if young people decide not to go into extremes and continue living their lives just listening to such uncensored songs, it influences them in any case. Aggression and negativism forms the way they perceive the reality around them. If we want to live in a happy society, such way of thinking is useless and harmful. To do it, we should form an atmosphere for harmonious development and growth of personality, filling surrounding with kindness and wisdom. Presence of positive role models, especially in the sphere of art and music in particular, can make a huge difference, changing everything around us for the better.
Apart from the influence on teenagers, music has its considerable effect on adults as well. Aggressive and negative filling of popular songs can bring to general disappointment with life in adults, which is harmful for the health of society. It is difficult to live in harmony and receive joy from what you do when there is a lot of aggression around you.
I am sure that artists bear certain important responsibilities to the society. The more famous they are, the more important their responsibilities become. One of the major liabilities is forming certain mood in the society. It can be positive or negative, because neutral is harder to be noticed. They influence young people and adults, being role models to a lot of them (Hald, 2001). This is why one of their responsibilities, in my point of view, is living decent and interesting lives. I understand that it is difficult for people to be only positive, but I am sure that if they receive joy from the positive things they do, it will not be a burden, but rather positive sense of life.
Society also has certain responsibilities to the artists. In particular, there should be formed such an atmosphere and conditions, in which creating music is a joy. It should be convenient and easy for them. They should be free in what they do and how they do it. I don’t think that limits on the offence and disparaging of certain people’s beliefs and values constrain freedom – they only define healthy borders of the creativity. Moreover, they form an area of comfort, which results in creation of pleasant and facilitating atmosphere for all the people, which will inevitably bring positive results.
Hald, K. (2001). Music - a Human Right: Music and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Retrieved from http://www.freemuse.org/sw922.asp
Sparrow, K. (2009). Music censorship (part 1): A brief history. Retrieved from http://www.examiner.com/article/music-censorship-part-1-a-brief-history