What do independent artists do?, including BØRNS, The Growlers, The Frights, The Buttertones and SWMRS have in common? They have all been accused of sexual abuse and predatory behavior. Not only that, but, prior to these accusations, they called themselves “good guys” who “believe survivors” and support the #MeToo movement. Quite contradictory, right?
Following the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault allegations in 2017, the #MeToo movement took the world and the internet by storm. Factor for the increased presence of social media activism, and it seems like every public figure has made statements regarding the movement. With the indie music community being some of the strongest proponents of “woke” beliefs, it’s no surprise that indie bands proudly express these ideals on their social media accounts. This action not only expresses support for victims of sexual assault, but it gives those who express their support credibility and reliability.
But that’s not always true. In fact, often the people who gain this “credibility” and “trust” are the people Who the #MeToo movement must hold most accountable.
Indie bands that build their main fan baseds in the zones that thehis members live and tour, usually in the Southern California (SoCal) area, offer their fans the opportunity to see them all the time. This gives fans the ability to get to know the bands personally, a situation in which the lines can blur. When these relationships are formed with boundaries and respect, they can be truly special experiences for artists and fans alike. But when artists take advantage of this obvious power dynamic, these artist-fan relationships can spiral into something uncomfortable and manipulative.
The world saw the truth come to light in July 2020 about SWMRS member Joey Armstrong’s predatory relationship with then 16-year-old Lydia Night of The Regrettes. Armstrong was 22 at the time of their relationship. Furious over SWMRS July 19 Instagram Publish — in which the group declared his standing in solidarity with victims of sexual assault in the SoCal indie music community – Night told her side of the story. She responded to SWMRS’ post and revealed the hypocrisy behind it by retailer the emotionally abusive and sexually coercive relationship she had with Armstrong.
Not only was Night a fan of the band before the relationship, but SWMRS also offered Night and his band a huge career opportunity – the chance to open for SWMRS on his tour. This element only increased how inappropriate Armstrong and Night’s relationship was. This not only created an artist-fan power dynamic but an employer-employee dynamic.
“Because of our age difference, Joey continually asked me to keep our relationship as hidden as possible and I did,” Night explained in his post. “We had several conversations where he would say something like ‘I want to move on at your pace’ and ‘I don’t want to have sex until I’m 18’ but then act completely contradictory, making pressure on me in sexual situations. Night went on to explain that Armstrong made his sexual intentions, both physical and emotional, clear, manipulating her into doing what she was not comfortable with.
In response to Night’s message, Armstrong job perhaps the most superficial and vague Instagram apology the internet has ever seen. Armstrong said in an extremely short paragraph that he “failed [Lydia] as a partner” and that he “hopes she can forgive [him].” Obviously, Armstrong only released the message in an attempt to regain his credibility, but many SWMRS and the Regrets fans saw it through. of Armston July 21 “apology” was the last time SWMRS was active on Instagram.
The career of popular indie artist BØRNS follows a similar history of grooming and emotional abuse between him and his fans. Her story first came to light in 2018 when several women accused BØRNS, or Garrett Clark Borns, of sexual misconduct. The allegations revealed that Borns groomed several teenage girls through social media communication and shared explicit photos with them. According to Consequence of sound.
The #MeToo movement held most of the big names accountable, but let the smaller ones through. That is why so much independent artists felt like they could get away with it.
Although SWMRS and its fan base seemed to get the message, with Armstrong “admitting his actions”, this occasion is a rarity. It may be fair to assume that Night’s accusations were taken seriously because she has an important platform to speak out, but what about women without a platform.s which have been exploited by the artists? Are their stories being heard and taken up by millions of people? Are they even raw? Most often the answer is no.
It seems that the cancel culture plays a role in whether or not the victims of these incidents get justice. While SWMRS appears to be effectively canceled, as the group has remained silent since Night shared their story, BØRNS’ song “Electric Love” has recently exploded onto social media. Despite allegations about BØRNS in 2018, he is still active on social media and his music remains a big part of trending apps like TikTok. The ironic tendency captures a challenge in which the person taking the video kisses their crush on the high note of the song.
One of the biggest problems with cancel culture is that it is selective with the people it eliminates. Could BØRNS stay intact just because their music is more popular than SWMRS? It’s fair to assume that’s the reason in this case.