Thursday, March 12, 2009

Relationships and Art

I love being an English major. We discuss some of the most interesting things in class.

Today in American Literature we read The Awakening by Kate Chopin. If you are into literature at all, you should read it, because it's very good. My classmate, Joe, made a statement that I'm probably going to write my final paper around. The purpose of this novel was for Chopin to punch a hole in the Romantic ideals (Emerson, Whitman, Thoreau). I won't tell you the story; you should read it yourself. But I agree with him, I think.

So this was almost off the topic of the novel, but we got to talking about relationships and artists and how they may or may not go together. Can someone who is completely sold out to their art also be a good wife/husband? Is it different for a wife versus a husband? Perhaps you can be married, but if you have children then it's too much?

I used the example of Oprah and Stedman. My mom and I have discussed "playing house" and whether or not it is moral or even relationally beneficial for two people to be in a long-term, committed relationship and live together, but never get married. I think people like Oprah avoid marriage, not in order to avoid monogamy, but to retain their independence and ability to do whatever they want. If Oprah gets an offer to move to Seattle and do a show, she should be able to decide if she wants to move to Seattle. She should care what Stedman thinks, but his opinions and desires should be independent of her final decision. I want to be able to make moves that are good for me and not have to consult anyone else. I can dig that.

Another example: Chris Brown and Rihanna. They have been dating for years, but they haven't been publicly dating for near as long. If I were CB's manager, I would have advised that he keep it under wraps as long as possible, because so much of his fan base is young women who like to envision him as single. That's a simple marketing tactic, a way to stay afloat in the business.
So they went public with their relationship. That wasn't a big deal, but now all of this domestic violence stuff is going to make it harder on them as artists. I have to think twice before I listen to CB's cd. "Your soldier, your friend, and your lover, girl, I wanna be." But he beats his girlfriend. I have to think harder about how I view Rihanna. "I gotta check into rehab, baby, you're my disease." And she stays in an abusive relationship.
If they were more low-key about their love life, perhaps all of this would only affect their families and their persons rather than their careers and the way people view musicians, especially Black musicians.

I guess you can see which way I kind of lean.

What do you think?

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