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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What Is Consent? And What Is Manipulation? Musicians and Fans: The Scandals That Rocked YouTube

image source

(*this image is part of a series of pictures that were clicked, showing the many excuses that a perpetrator uses to abuse his/her victim. This is not a quote in favor, this is one of the quotes that was shown to be commonly used for such crimes.)

Last week saw a huge upheaval in the till-now bonded world of YouTube. The issue being - open allegations by an underage fan of how she was manipulated and sexually abused by one of the most popular young musicians on YouTube, whose colored hair, quirky videos, crazy blogging and psychedelic music has got the whole youth in a tizzy. This said musician had been signed on by a YouTube popular music label that is co-owned by Hank Green, of VlogBrothers fame and also the brother of author John Green.

Since the allegations came out, there has been a clear divide, with some supporting the girl and cheering her for having the strength to come out and talk about her abuse, while others siding with the young musician and saying that this was not abuse, that the young guy had no idea the girl was not 'into it' and that the allegations are untrue.

An immediate result of the allegations, of course, has been the fact that the young musician has been taken off the list of artists from DFTBA records, and all his songs have been pulled off the site. So much so that the producers have also donated an amount to charity that helps victims of abuse, amounting to the profits from the songs of the said musician.

This is a trying issue. An issue that is not alone, but is not widely spoken about, and when it does come out in the open, leaves behind a lot of mess. Like it should.

This incident is also similar to another such incidence that had taken place earlier, where a musician had manipulated many of his fans into sexual abuse. This young musician is Alex Day, a guy whose work I have been following for quite a while now. It was shocking when Alex came out with his own confession, admitting that he had in fact been involved in manipulative and abusive relationships with many women. Incidentally, I, and many other people around the world, thought him to be this very sweet and extremely grounded young man. This was really shocking to me, especially since Alex Day is a more mature and responsible man (at least that was what it looked like till now.)

Alex Day has asked DFTBA to remove his work and has apologized to fans world over, saying he is ashamed and deeply sorry for what he failed to notice in his behavior earlier.

Here is a direct reposting from another site that ran an article on the entire scandal:

‘For those who felt that they knew Day through his social media presence, this type of accusation was difficult to believe. But as YouTuber Anthony D’Angelo pointed out in a video, watching someone’s videos and interacting with them as a fan is not the same as knowing them on a personal level. Their online persona is their professional brand, and 10 minutes of edited YouTube footage per week is not a window into the soul.’

So true. Of course you cannot claim to know a person by looking at how they choose to portray themselves in a professional setup.

This crazy phenomena of hero-worship, especially between musicians and fans, is something that is blurring out all boundaries these days. One of the main reasons for this is easy accessibility. While these reportings are from YouTube, there are many other social platforms where one can connect with their music heroes. Youngsters these days know no life outside of FB, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube (and many other platforms and chat forums.) This is also a great space for musicians, who choose to market their talent through these forums, in the meanwhile gaining fans who are underage and extremely smitten.

I have personally seen some really crazy instances of fans who are ready to do anything for their idols. While this connect can be a great way of knowing what your audience wants and letting your gratitude felt, it is also the perfect way to cash in on that adulation.

As the lines get blurred, who gets to decide how much is enough?

How can you decide the amount of closeness that is okay to share with your idol, and when to back off?

When do you realize the difference between professional and personal?

And more importantly, how do you specify consent and manipulation?

For starters, consent can be a much loosely used term when it comes to sexual consent. When you use it in terms of an underage person, no amount of YES can be consent. The fact is, even if your underage fan or person is saying yes, it means nothing. If you decide to indulge in ‘the act’ with someone who is underage, you are committing a crime, and you are a criminal.

It is shocking that someone like Alex Day chose to go ahead and get involved in things that he knew would be so disastrous. Once you are infatuated or obsessed with someone, it is very easy to get manipulated. And this is exactly what these musicians chose to do.

The thing to understand is that you don’t always need to hear a NO in order to stop. Of course, NO means NO, and if the person you are with says so, that is the time you need to stop. In other cases, there can be many many more ways of saying a NO. Sometimes, you can see it in the body language, you can see it in the discomfort – back off right then.

If you are with someone who is an underage, stop right then and there.

If you are an underage and not comfortable with the person you are with, tell them to stop right away.
Sexual Consent below the age of 18 (in other countries it may be higher still) is no consent at all. And when both people involved are grown-ups, you need to respect each other and see what the other wants.
Manipulating someone into what you want and how you want is criminal, no matter what the age.

 - Debolina Raja Gupta

And like I always believe in and say:
"Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children" - MJ

Debolina Raja Gupta