Should We Ever Forgive Troubled Artists?

From James Brown to Chris Brown, celebs' sins force fans to either support or reject their heroes.

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Twitter didn't exist yet to rake Davis, Ruffin or James Brown over the coals. Their moral failings were only heard through the grapevine in the 1960s and '70s. Tragically, physical abuse was also arguably more culturally acceptable back then; who knows if their careers would have been affected at all?

For critics, impartial distancing seems only fair when considering the art of musicians, directors, etc. (Yet where were the Chloe Papases of the world when judging the art of rumored racists? If Elvis had actually said that the only thing African Americans could do for him was shine his shoes and buy his records, would he not have been crowned the King? Doubtful.) Consumers, for their part, should feel free to hold on to their own personal grievances -- and dollars -- at the register.

Miles Marshall Lewis is the Harlem-based author of Scars of the Soul Are Why Kids Wear Bandages When They Don't Have Bruises, There's a Riot Goin' On and Irrésistible. Lewis is a former editor at Vibe, XXL and BET.com. Follow him on Twitter and visit his personal blog, Furthermucker.

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