Many members of the alternative music scene aren’t interested in having difficult conversations about abuse, assault and discrimination. Conversations like these may add an unwanted seriousness to a community that has long been dedicated to fun and carefree self expression.
Unfortunately, these problems are alarmingly present in the alternative scene and make for an unsafe and hostile environment for many marginalized groups. People who are marginalized aren’t able to “just have fun,” because oftentimes they find their safety and wellbeing at risk. In fact, in order for conversations about safety to be productive, they need to permeate all levels of this scene. Conversations need to happen not just among fans, but bands as well.
We’ve seen bands condemn other bands involved in scandals and allegations, but what about fan-on-fan transgressions? Bands speak out here and there, but widespread, public support is the only thing that will spark change regarding this scene’s deep-seated issues.
The fact of the matter is that the fanbase of any given band includes both victims and abusers. It’s difficult to consider, but it’s true. When band members don’t vocalize their views on safety awareness for marginalized groups, the abusers can go on abusing while remaining anonymous and accepted. Even worse, victims may feel that their post-abuse trauma isn’t valid when people in power (ie. the people in the music scene who are making music) refuse to acknowledge it. A band’s public support of safety and equality can make a fan who has been victimized feel accepted.
People who have voices – band members, managers, record labels, show promoters – in this scene need to be in on the conversation about assault and safety. If more bands make clear statements that they will not support or tolerate assault and discrimination, it not only sends a message to potential abusers, it also offers support to victims.
Many people choose to be a part of this scene because it is a place where they can have fun and express themselves. However, it’s become clear that people aren’t always able to feel carefree and safe in the alternative scene. Issues of assault and inequality need to be discussed openly and on a large scale in order for change to begin.
Since the initial writing of this article, events surrounding The Story So Far necessitated this added post-script:
In an appalling example of abuse not just in the pop-punk community, but from one of the musicians in that community, Parker Cannon – the lead singer of The Story So Far – kicked a young female fan offstage as she was taking a selfie during their Toronto gig on April 10th.
This was also not the first time such an incident has occurred. This Youtube video depicts Cannon violently kicking another man offstage for trying to take a selfie.
The manager of Mod Club, Jorge Dias, has denounced Cannon’s actions and banned The Story So Far from returning to the venue.
Prominent voices in the scene have spoken out via Twitter:
As I’ve already argued in this article, more bands need to stand up and follow the good example of these artists who have spoken out against this assaultive act.
The young woman who was assaulted by Cannon wrote a response via Facebook with an apology to the band, saying she expected nothing less and intimating that their response was deserved.
It is unfortunate that she feels that she deserved this. It is also unfortunate and unacceptable that so many people have expressed the belief that violence in this scene is something that should be expected and is permissible.
It’s a sad fact that victim-blaming in this scene has become so pervasive that this situation has resulted in an apology on her part and not his. Nobody should feel the need to apologize for being attacked, and artists and fans alike need to speak out against a culture that would make someone feel as though they should apologize for being drop-kicked.