Wednesday night’s BRIT awards saw Stormzy win the ‘best male’ award, but it was his end of show performance which received the most attention. The rapper chose to use his performance to criticise Theresa May and her government’s approach to the Grenfell Tower tragedy. This begs the question of whether music has become (like all other forms of art) too political?
You only have to look to other awards ceremonies to see what happens when you let it become dominated by politics instead of music: the event becomes exclusive and artists are forced to subscribe to a dominant way of seeing society. In this case it’s the enforcement of left-wing politics. Considering how other areas of society have been subjected to this bias (you only have to look at universities), it takes away the enjoyment and celebration that music awards once were.
“dangerous but unfair”
Whilst artists should not be prohibited from using their work to express views, like all other forms of free speech it has to be used carefully. Considering Stormzy’s performance alone, his comments were not only dangerous but unfair. They were unfair on the Prime Minister and they were unfair on the victims of Grenfell.
Firstly, Stormzy’s suggestion that the Prime Minister was a “criminal” and should have her “house burned down to feel what it’s like” was disgusting. As an artist, on a platform such as the BRITs, to make such suggestions is dangerous. We mustn’t underestimate his influence over the younger generation – especially when there is already a climate of hostility towards those we merely disagree with, worsened by the Shadow Chancellor previously suggesting that Tory MPs should be scared to be in public and laughing about politicians being lynched.
Secondly, Stormzy’s comments simplified an extremely complex issue, especially since they implied no money had gone to Grenfell, something which both Government and the Charity Commission deny. However, they couldn’t defend themselves against this since the BRITs had neither the time nor the ability to properly explore this – and nor should it. It is a music ceremony after all.
If Stormzy or other artists want to discuss politics, then go on Question Time. The BRITs is an event for artists who have been awarded for their musical talent, not their views on matters far more complicated than they seem to realise.