How Far Is Too Far: When Your Favorite Musicians Go Off The Rails
  • MONDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2015

  • Posted by: Baeble Staff

Tom DeLonge was in the news quite a bit recently due to his breakup with Blink-182. But now there's something else for the media to focus on: he believes in aliens. There's nothing wrong with that; a lot of people believe in them, and even weirder stuff. DeLonge also stated in an interview that he thinks people have been tapping his phone over his extra-terrestrial encounters, and that his life may be in danger. Whether you believe in life beyond the stars or not, that's a pretty extreme statement to make publicly. But will it ultimately, um, alien-ate his fans? More importantly... should it?

Honestly, It probably won't, and there's no reason it should. As fans, we gravitate towards certain artists because we enjoy the music they make. We don't hold them to the same standard of intelligence, sanity, or class as, say, politicians. If the President announced he believed in aliens we probably wouldn't value his opinions on health care anymore. If Tom DeLonge says he knows about the government's Area 51 projects, that doesn't mean he can't still write a catchy song. Not to mention the fact that he's in good company. During a very public, and—regardless of how you feel about Creed—pretty sad breakdown last year actually threatened to assassinate Obama.

Stapp and DeLonge are a danger to themselves more than anyone else, but what about the artists we seem to have forgiven for malignant train wrecks? The videos of Stapp suggest confusion, and mental illness. Tom DeLonge has some strange hobbies, and Stapp probably needs help. That doesn't necessarily call for a direct response to our interest in their music, but as fans our engagement with an artist's music or persona is what supports them financially.

Consider the cases where someone was hurt: Chris Brown didn't face much in the way of fan base consequences after he assaulted Rihanna in 2009. He faced a minute amount of legal consequence, 5 years probation and 1400 hours of "labor oriented service," but in the court of public opinion he hardly suffered. Brown continued to perform, collaborate with major artists and producers, and receive Grammy nominations. Because we, as fans, proved he was still a commodity we were willing to consume. R. Kelly is a another artist that has a long history of sexual assault that has been nearly swept under the rug. There are detailed accounts of explicit sexual relationships between Kelly and underage girls, and numerous lawsuits that were settled out of court. Say what you will about his fame making him a target, based on public and privately calculated statistics, only a very small percent of rape accusations are falsified. In 2013 R. Kelly headlined the Pitchfork Music Festival, and Black Pantiessold 133,000 copies in it's first week.

At the end of the day, continuing to engage with the music of artists who have victimized people is indirectly condoning that violence. There just isn't any other way around it. Chris Brown and R.Kelly are undeniably talented artists, but downloading their music is telling labels and corporations that we will still consume them. DeLonge's out-of-this-world beliefs are nothing compared to other problems in the music industry, and yet being laughably nuts can disrupt your career more than being convicted of a violent crime. None of this is breaking news. It's a highly debated question: whether or not to hold art accountable for the faults of the artists. This is simply a different lens with which to approach that debate. Next time you go to stream "Remix to Ignition," consider that Scott Stapp could probably really benefit from a couple streams, and putting it on mute wouldn't hurt anybody.




Co-written by Kirsten Hess and Emily Daly

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