Thrown telephone, ashes, camembert… Why are the fans going off the rails?

It’s not love anymore, it’s rage. Since the beginning of the summer, pop icons can no longer take the stage without becoming the target of projectiles or overflows. At the end of June, in New York, the singer Bebe Rexha ended up in the hospital with three stitches after receiving a smartphone in the face. Two days later, in Los Angeles, a spectator leapt onto the stage to slap pop star Ava Max. We also saw Pink freeze when receiving the ashes of a fan’s mother, wrapped in a plastic bag (!), Harry Styles courageously continue a show despite being hit in the eye, and Drake also being hit by a smartphone, on the wrist this time…

Exasperated, Cardi B replied at the end of July by throwing her microphone at a spectator who had sprinkled her with water. So many excesses that Taylor Swift fans began to debate the rules of etiquette in concert. To howl his devotion or to listen to the songs piously? Shake your hips or respect the comfort of the neighbor? Painful questions. “It all depends on musical aesthetics”, answers Solveig Serre, musicologist and researcher at the CNRS, for whom excesses are part of the ritual. “In punk, rock or rap, it’s even often the sign of a successful concert, even if I don’t approve of these attacks,” she notes. Because one of the functions of a concert of popular music, as in a party, is to serve as a place of regulation of violence, so as not to find it elsewhere. These excesses did not always amuse the musicians, but they tolerated them. Since the Covid, it’s different. »

These mega-stars at mega-shows, whose prices reach stratospheric levels, take less and less risk and put their well-being before the public’s exultation. From Rosalía asking to “not throw any more objects on stage” to Billie Eilish specifying “it does not make me feel very appreciated”. Adele even brandished a sort of threatening Flash-Ball, to warn that she would retaliate… The philosopher Richard Mèmeteau, author of “Pop culture” (ed. La Découverte, 2014), notes: “In celebrity, there is always had a risk, and even a form of cannibalism, where the public could for example try to tear off the clothes of the idol. But the stars no longer subscribe to this cannibalism and seem more concerned with themselves. »

Who would blame them? Except that their shows end up adopting the codes of “scholarly music”, further observes Solveig Serre, who did his thesis on the Paris Opera in the 18th century: “At the time, the aristocratic public behaved like a band of punks. The floor was standing, people moved about as they pleased, the boxes were used for fornication. When the bourgeoisie took over the opera in the 19th century, it imposed the codes of the more or less enlightened amateur that we know today: applauding at the right time, remaining seated, etc. “Before the Covid, it could be customary to send your smartphone to the artist to participate in the performance and for him to take a selfie. But smartphones have become XXL and fans don’t always aim well.

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