Abusive behavior at concerts has become a kind of norm

Harry Styles during a concert in London last February. (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Cases of throwing objects and attacks seem to be more frequent: this is also due to social habits lost during the pandemic.

Concert goers are accustomed to seeing things thrown at the performers on stage, from dolls to T-shirts to more or less empty plastic cups. However, some recent cases have led to a series of comments that similar episodes are happening more frequently than in the past, both in Italy and abroad. Some insiders have noticed that, in general, certain harassing or violent behavior from the public has become somewhat of a norm. In their opinion, the impact of the pandemic also has something to do with it.

In June, American singer Bebe Rexha was hospitalized after an audience member threw a smartphone at her during a concert in New York, injuring her left eye. A few days later, a fan who managed to get on stage in Los Angeles slapped Ava Max, and during Harry Styles concerts, Harry Styles was repeatedly hit with things thrown by the audience: a bouquet of flowers, a package of chocolates, a sanitary pad and some chicken nuggets.

Throwing something onto a stage or trying to get close to an artist is not necessarily an aggressive or dangerous gesture, but in some cases it can be. Italian singer Baby K recently revealed that she had to cancel some concerts due to a chest injury caused by a fan who “blamed” her when she asked for a photo at the end of the Teramo concert. Last week, rapper Geolier’s performance in Palermo was interrupted and then ended after a few songs due to a stage invasion by a group of fans breaking through the barriers. However, during Pink’s last concert in London, someone in the audience threw her mother’s ashes onto the stage, leaving the singer stunned.

Other celebrities seem to have noticed that things have changed a bit. Adele, for example, pointed out to her audience in Las Vegas “how some people have somewhat forgotten how to behave at concerts”, jokingly threatening them not to try to throw anything at them. Also during a concert in Las Vegas, rapper Cardi B reacted to someone who threw a drink at her from a glass from the front rows by throwing the microphone towards the audience in turn. The police opened an investigation following a complaint by a woman who accused the singer of assaulting her, but the case was then dropped due to insufficient evidence (it is not clear if the same person accused of assault filed the complaint). complaint), throwing a drink). Other singers still attract audiences that continue to chat, use smartphones or try to talk to them during concerts, distracting them.

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Sam Ellison, Events Manager at London’s Rough Trade record store chain, says that this “disrespectful” behavior has become “the norm at concerts, but for the good of the artists and the safety of the public, this must end.” Experts interviewed by various British and American newspapers have observed how public opinion seems to have been affected by the hiatus from live performances due to the coronavirus pandemic, a fairly long period during which it has been possible to experience the collective experience of great concerts.

According to Lucy Bennett, a researcher at Cardiff University who studies the relationship between those who write music and their audience, it could be that the purpose of some people throwing things on stage is to appear in videos that then go viral on social media. . networks or just trying to get noticed by their idols, trying to establish a certain type of contact, so to speak. However, according to others, such behavior may depend on the fact that we have forgotten how to cope with certain situations.

Ryan Sultan, clinical psychiatry researcher at Columbia University vox notice that in general the ability of people to interact in a social context seems to have decreased slightly, especially among young people and especially after the pandemic. Sultan explained that at the moment there are no specific studies on how the behavior of the audience at concerts, cinema or theater has changed with Covid-19, but he says he is convinced that long periods of isolation have negatively affected both interpersonal skills and on interpersonal communication skills. and from knowing what to do and what not to do in certain contexts. According to Shira Gabriel, professor of psychology at the University at Buffalo, it’s a bit like we’re not taught anymore, with the result that we run the risk of harming someone or in any way spoiling the atmosphere for those who perform, as well as for the rest of us. part of the audience.

Gabrielle said she is optimistic that incidents like this will gradually disappear as people get used to big events again. According to him, there is another factor that can bring the situation back to normal: a sense of shame. Usually, no one likes to experience this kind of emotion, and, according to Gabriel, one of the risks for people making gestures that can be considered frivolous or too aggressive is that they are teased or humiliated not only by the public, but also online.

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