Last night (Apr. 11) at Toronto's Mod Club, Parker Cannon, lead vocalist of popular pop-punk band The Story So Far jump-kicked a young female fan off stage, forcing her to fall face-first into the crowd below. This is the second time Cannon has made headlines for brutal behavior, first causing a stir in July 2015 when he did the same thing to a man who hopped on stage mid-set. Both attendees appear to have been trying to take a selfie in front of the band. You can watch video footage of both attacks here and the most recent incident below.
Before unpacking the implications of these actions, let's state some facts:
1.) It's probably really annoying when someone jumps onstage in an attempt to photograph themselves while you're performing.
2.) Pop-punk and emo shows can be violent places by virtue of the type of music and the people there (we're not generalizing too terribly much when we say men with a stereotypically weak sense of masculinity and self-worth are part of the scene). Acting on those impulses is completely unacceptable and for whatever reason, are celebrated in the pit. It's some dog-eat-dog shit.
What those practices reinforce is an unwelcoming culture for everyone who isn't a big, angry dude. It's fundamentally violent—and overzealous punching and kicking is rewarded (and not just in the pit).
In The Story So Far's case, Cannon was doing more than attempting to remove the photo-taking fan from her place on the stage, a space he believed she did not belong—he was looking to hurt her. He leapt, and struck her in the center of her back. She did not see her assailant and she fumbled at his whim. The same thing occurred last summer with the male victim.
The reason this story is making the rounds now, with more force and anger behind it than the first incident last year, is the situation itself: This particular music world has a long history of being dismissive to young women. Unfortunately enough, that's the very demographic that keeps it afloat.
Usually the conversation surrounding this particular woman-hate, based in a genre-world where men largely make the music and women largely watch, is dependent on some level of sexualization. In 2014, Jake McElfresh of Front Porch Step, faced multiple sexual assault allegations after sending and accepting inappropriate text messages and pornographic photographs with underage women, who were fans of his band. This is all but a rarity: Escape the Fate’s Ronnie Radke was accused of raping a woman after a Salt Lake City show last summer. A few years prior, No Good News and Bellwether's Harry Corrigan was accused of sexual assault and apologized for it. Just last month, the band Foxing released a statement regarding allegations made against guitarist Ricky Sampson. These are only a few stories; throw a rock in the scene, and you'll find more.
By entering one of these shows, women aware of these situations are aware of their potentiality. These actions are commonplace and we're all susceptible.
It's ironic to think about: punk music was created out of counter-culture, and pop-punk is a more accessible, easily digestible form of it. If the place you go to escape from whatever mundane crap ails you day-to-day, if that place is unwelcoming to you, where are you supposed to go?
While there appears to be no sexualized aspect to Cannon's beastly act of kicking a female fan off stage, it's cause for real concern. This is a crime, an act of violence against women. By kicking her while her back was turned, and by showing others it's okay to behave in a similar fashion, Cannon taught an audience that the safety of others doesn't hold any real value. As far as the pop-punk/emo world he inhabits, he's set back progress at a time where progress is crucial.
It's a music world that becomes increasingly hard to defend, and he's managed to make it exponentially worse. If there is a lesson here, it's to boycott bands that live life unconcerned by the well-being of others, and to listen to women when they share similar stories—and they will, if given the platform.