Consent in Art

The following is an edited version of a tweet chain that started with this tweet:

It’s insane how irrelevant consent becomes to people when it comes to art, especially art available (for free, if you know where to look) online. Many seem to think they have any right to decide on an artist’s priorities, or that they have any “right” on the art itself without going the way the artist wants them to, like paying, or using an online portal the artist consented into supplying their art.

Consent, people. It’s not hard! Does the artist explicitly say you can use their art in the way you want to use it? Yes -> Go ahead. No -> Not your decision. No matter how small and irrelevant the use, no matter how much you (think you) need it. It’s not your choice! They decide on their own priorities — everyone decides on their own priorities. Apply your logic to _any_ field outside of art and you quickly see how ridiculous and away from reality, and also common sense, it is.

I’m not creative in any way myself. Hell, I rarely ever created anything artistic all by myself. But even artists sometimes think that way. It’s ok to not think of everything by yourself but it’s not ok to discuss on this beyond education just because you somehow think it’s different for art. Consent is not up to discussion. Ever. In any context. If someone can’t consent, you don’t do stuff to them outside of saving their life or preventing them from having great pain.

Ask any webcomic artist what they think of 9Gag or iFunny. Ask any movie producer what they think of movie piracy. Ask any music interpret what they think of sharing platforms. If you think they wouldn’t care, ask them. No answer? Not your call! They give consent (some even do!)? Go ahead! They say No? You were wrong and have no right on their art, no matter how much you like it. The art is too expensive? Same thing! The artist behaves morally questionable? Don’t support that. The art is not available in your country or any platform you can access due to legal reasons? Ask them to offer it in your country — and try to change the law. Participate politically. Don’t like the situation? Try to change it according to active laws and political structures.

This, of course, applies to every situation, even just sharing webcomics on facebook, altered/translated or not. Dig up the original and embed or link it with credit — it’s not hard. Every small consent violation makes a difference, because it normalizes that. Catcalling, wide-spread and often “well-intended”, hurts. Guys often don’t realize that; many even argue that they’d like, or even want it — even if that’s true even if it happened as often as it does for women, it is not your choice to decide on what anyone else wants, likes and prioritizes. Even victimless crimes, like taking an empty seat you didn’t pay for in a cinema, or pirating art, are drops of water on the heads of integrity and consent. Do you not go voting because your vote “doesn’t make a difference anyway”? No. And if you don’t, you don’t get to complain, that’s common knowledge.

Even small things add up. Everything works this way, still many people think contrary, act according to that and normalize it further. It’s called conditioning, which works with everything in the universe. It’s a good thing small things add up in elections, or for the goals of a torturer that water drops on the same spot for too long drive people crazy, but people consented into democracy. If you don’t like it, move somewhere else which fits your political views more, but you won’t find a country that’ll let you do all decisions since humanity is advanced enough to know that noone is smarter than everyone else, and noone can sustain themselves on their own either if they want to hold any standard of living higher than Tarzan.

Just like with art. Don’t like the circumstances? Too bad, not your decision, do not use it. Use something else which fits your needs. Noone needs specific, individual art to survive. For comfort, yes, for sanity, in some cases, but there’s consented-to-be free or really cheap art of every major genre in every kind of art you can fall back to if you think you can’t live without it, but can’t afford the art, or don’t want to support the artist.

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