The Instagramming of Art

During yesterday’s morning walk through the Internet, I came across a ream of articles proclaiming that “Justin Bieber Quits Instagram.” Apparently, Bieber objected to fans’ criticism of his new girlfriend, stating, “”I’m gonna make my Instagram private if you guys don’t stop the hate.” Fans objected, as did his former girlfriend, Whatever Thehellhernameis. Apparently, Whatever wrote, “’If you can’t handle the hate, then stop posting pictures of your girlfriend. It should be special between you two only. Don’t be mad at your fans. They love you.’ Translated, one can only assume she meant “They like me better. Get over it.” Bieber responded by making private and then deleting his account.

The moral of that story was: “Fuck you.”

Now, let me be clear: I don’t give a damn about Bieber or his current, future, or ex-girlfriends. I’ve heard exactly 3 Bieber songs in my life and sorta liked maybe two of them. But this did resonate in a different way—in talking about the line between liking an artist and liking their art. We fans give ourselves permission to fall in love with an artist’s work and then convince ourselves we can glean something about the artist from their art. We love them, we say, and mean it. Since the art evokes strong emotions or creates endorphins, we convince ourselves that it constitutes having made a connection. Since we love the Bieb’s song, then we must love Justin himself.


We don’t own artists, nor does liking their work mean we understand anything about them. Certainly, all of us who produce any art have experienced having an aficionado’s crossing that thin line from “That work is good” to “Maybe we can be friends” or to “You don’t wanna do nuthin’, do you?” And make no mistake, that, within normal boundaries, and where invited, it’s welcome. However, when it crosses over into believing we get to make decisions regarding the artist’s life or their choices based solely on the fact that we like how they wrote Chapter Six, then we’ve moved into unwelcome territory. #CrazyFan

Your buying a Bieber single isn’t making a down payment on the lad’s life. You don’t get to tell him shit. He doesn’t have to give a damn about whether you like his choices or not. If you liked his last girlfriend better, then call her up your damned self and see if maybe she’ll fuck go out with you.

(P.S. She won’t.)

If you really like Bieber, write him a fan letter. Maybe he’ll let you wax his Bentley. (Heh.)

Not really what I meant.

Not really what I meant.

(P.S. He won’t either.)

You see, there is a line here that shouldn’t be crossed. I’ll be the first to admit that if I don’t like a performer’s life, then I’m not going to be a fan. Picasso may have been great (or not), but he was a dick, so who cares? I’m not crazy about Van Gogh’s art, but I admire how he dealt with his life’s struggles, so I’m pleased to see his acceptance in the art world. I can’t watch a Clint Eastwood movie because I think he’s an overly conservative, needs-to-shut-the-fuck-up asshole. I get to boycott his movies, and he gets to not give a damn about my opinion. That’s the contract we hold with each other. My being able to find him online or god forbid, Instagram him, doesn’t mean we mates. In fact, it doesn’t mean fuck all.

Celebrities aren’t your friends. Neither are artists (unless of course, you have dinner with them, in which case maybe they are). If they send you an autographed photo, then they’re hoping you keeping buying their art or come to a show where you can generate income for them. If they send you a birthday card, well then maybe you get to tell them that you think their new girlfriend is a bit young for them. Perhaps they’ll even care. We’ve crossed into this space where the constant availability of celebrity creates a false sense that they’re obligated in some way to live to our standards. Moreover, people being able to hide on the Interwebs has removed common decorum, creating an International army of online Douchebaskets. I’ve had people say things to me online they’d never say in person (because in person, I’d beat the holy fucking shit out of them). Self-righteousness has always blossomed in the darkness.

Hemingway says, "STFU."

Hemingway says, “STFU.”

But it’s time we start turning on the lights. The Instaspaces that have bred this toadstool garden of indecorousness need to be toned down, or artists should feel free to vacate them. Understand, the Biebster was on IG primarily because it helped him promote himself. Creating a “bond” with his fans creates brand loyalty, and hopefully, encourages said fans to attend his concerts, putting a shitload of fan money in his pocket. And, less cynically, being an artist has lesser appeal if we can never get firsthand feedback from listeners, viewers, or readers. True art is an emotional process that provides chances to connect with like (or different) minded, preferably cool people. It is not an opportunity for some Twithole to tell a grown-ass man how to live.

If you are online, interacting with an artist because you think they somehow owe you something, do the world a favor. Please shoot yourself in the face. I’ll buy you the bullets if you’re out. They owe you nothing. You ain’t mates. Their contract with you is as follows: they get money, you get some form of entertainment. If you’re not entertained, stop giving them money. Now, I’ll acknowledge there is a Kardashian Klause that gets you out of this loophole, but only to an extent. If someone’s entire art is their personal life, then of course you get to comment on every aspect of that life. Bring a video camera; film them having sex. They want you to watch. However, this is the minority. Most simply want to make a living entertaining you. If you are entertained, but you think they are shitty people somehow or cling to beliefs or a lifestyle you don’t condone, you are within your rights to object. Again, object by no longer giving them money.

If you wish to object by going on their YouTwitFace IG account to insult teenage girls, then, please shoot yourself in the face. I’ll give you a like on Instagram.

Love, Bill

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