Now is Not the Time for Creators to Cancel Their Work: Why Art is Essential to Social Justice
The delay of artistic expression buys into the notion that everything will go back to “normal” — which is not what we want.
Way back in March 2020, I was stoked to realize that PVRIS, one of my favorite rock bands, would be releasing their third full-length album on May 1st.
As the coronavirus turned into a global pandemic, May 1st came and went with an announcement that Use Me’s release would be delayed until July 10th. I was disappointed, but I understood that the music industry, like so many others, was being disrupted by the unforeseen. Artists, musicians, and music producers are people like the rest of us, and it takes time to adjust to a new way of life, one of social distancing and Zoom calls and being imprisoned in your own house.
I was looking forward to downloading the new album later this week, but Google News informed me this morning that the band had postponed the release again, this time until August 28th.
Lynn Gunn, the band’s founder and frontwoman, released a statement saying:
Self-promotion can wait for now and I want to make room and hold space for the conversation and message of the Black Lives Matter movement to continue.
While I respect Gunn and her decision, I think it’s misguided for artists and creators to suspend their work to “make space” for social and political movements no matter how necessary. This delay of artistic expression buys into the notion that the current impulse toward social and racial justice (amidst a still-raging pandemic, nonetheless) will soon be over and everything will go back to “normal.” And, by “normal,” I mean the way things were — the awful way they have been for the past several decades.
A couple months of protests, cancellations, and public, politically-correct proclamations of support will not bring about the long-term, institutional and systemic reforms our world needs to see. We don’t need things to go back to…