Carrie Brownstein Weighs into Black Lips/Wavves Feud, Offended by Jarred Swilley's Use of the Word "Faggot"

Carrie Brownstein Weighs into Black Lips/Wavves Feud, Offended by Jarred Swilley's Use of the Word "Faggot"
Just when we thought it was dying down, the blaze of web traffic dedicated to the Black Lip/Wavves fight has flamed up again thanks to a well-spoken response from former Sleater-Kinney front-woman Carrie Brownstein, who has taken offence to Black Lip Jarred Swilley's use of offensive language.

In a blog post on NPR, Brownstein critiqued Swilley, who had referred to Nathan Williams as "that faggot from Wavves." In the post, Brownstein dissected Swilley's language as brutish and outdated, writing "Swilley needs a dictionary, and to find a new insult." Then, taking it a step further, compared it to Roman Polanski's actions to ask questions about how an artist's actions can affect the way we perceive their art.

Here's a large expert from the thought-provoking piece:

If you read through the comment threads, as I did, you will find that many people have a problem with Swilley's pervasive use of the word "faggot." I, for the record, have a problem with it, as well. And despite the wide gap in literal offensiveness between Polanski's actual crimes and Swilley's ugly words, some might toss out their Black Lips records and yet continue to watch Rosemary's Baby. Why is that?

Perhaps it's easier to separate the art from the artist within the forgiving lens of hindsight. (It's a lot easier to forgive and forget if the artists lived and died well before our time.) And maybe we make exception for the supposed great ones, or those time-tested artists - exceptions that we wouldn't make for those we consider our peers.

There are also the ethical lines, based on our own histories and experiences, that each of us draws in the sand. These lines, when crossed by our most cherished or worshipped artists, may result in an outright rejection of them. Or, if their mishap doesn't affect us personally, we might be able to overlook it. For others, and thus far I am among this group, I do find it relatively easy to separate art from artist. However, that is not to say that I don't think the artist should be held accountable. Swilley needs a dictionary, and to find a new insult, but Polanski's actions are indefensible.

So, where do you draw the line? And, when it comes to music and other art forms, can you separate the actions of the creator from that which they've created?


Brownstein's comments come at an interesting time, as Paste has reported that Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese and Terry Gilliam are among the many celebrities who have petitioned for Roman Polanski's release.