We all wish that the savoir-faire of pop stars could rub off on us. But that blind desire has turned into a sickening entitlement. With rapper Iggy Azalea having to cease crowd-surfing at her shows because of zealous fans’ grasping at her nether regions, it’s time to step back and stop believing we own the artists we admire.
“Buying my album for $12 doesn’t mean you get to finger me,” the Aussie hip-hop scion said in a recent interview with Hot 97 FM. But as the world gets more comfortable with merely streaming music and not owning it through purchase, the assumed trade-off becomes more intense. The commodity is now the performer herself, not the songs she presents.
It’s a hostile case of the gimmes when it comes to today’s audiences. Certainly, Beatlemania possessed youngsters to claw at the Fab Four, but it mostly seemed a thrill to be in their presence. Now, with musicians interacting directly with fans via Instagram, Twitter and AMA chats, they seem literally more touchable. Social media creates a false sense of familiarity between these celebrities and their listeners— but that is no excuse for the atrocious way the artists are treated in concert.
Azalea is far from the only one saddled with such peril. Beyonce, Miley Cyrus and Rihanna have all been bum-rushed or grabbed by fans during performances. And it is not because of the provocative nature of their songs. As Azalea noted, just because she has a song called “Pu$$y” does not give people the green light to molest her.
And this animalistic agression is not just toward female performers. I’ve seen on numerous occasions male musicians assaulted onstage. Andrew McMahon of pop-punk band Something Corporate nearly got pantsed and mutilated by groping girls at a show in 2005. And Interpol’s Daniel Kessler and Paul Banks were repeatedly torpedoed by fanboys who raided the Los Angeles Greek Theatre stage in 2010.
Why is it not enough for the music to touch us now? Why must we claim ownership to the artist itself? True, concert ticket prices are astronomical these days, but when will we realize we are not trading cash for tangible flesh? It is the cult of instant gratification gone mad.
Image courtesy Sarah Mickelson/Neon Tommy via Creative Commons.