By Kristen Hawley | 21 December, 2021
Joshua Bassett just released three singles, “Crisis”, “Secret”, and “Set Me Free” that paint his narrative of the situation with Olivia Rodrigo. Olivia’s debut Grammy nominated album “Sour” dominated the internet, especially TikTok, and was the emotional release everyone needed after a break-up. While fans speculated the album was about the tumultuous ending of the private relationship of Olivia and Joshua, who are co-stars on “High School The Musical: The Musical: The Series”, the online bullying and harassment of Joshua Bassett was overwhelming and vicious.
Making a joke or meme online at an artist’s expense may seem harmless, I mean they’re not going to see it, they are busy with other things, right? The delayed release of Joshua’s music gives a defined answer: Wrong, they do see it and it does affect them. We have seen this problem before, when Taylor Swift was also subjected to a trending hate hashtag of #TaylorSwiftisOverParty. Her 2020 Netflix documentary, “Miss Americana” showed how deeply this social hate affected her.
We as fans idolize and build up artists to be seen as larger than life, and almost fictional. But, they are real people who experience the same emotions and struggles as us. The only difference between artists and fans is that the artists’ lives are broadcasted and criticized for the world’s viewing pleasure.
As much as drama and social context adds to the value and depth of an album or a song’s lyrics, it should be taken at face value. Music is for us to interpret and apply to our own experiences. Lyrics and rumors are not marching orders to attack other parties for the sake of the artist. We are on the outside looking in, no matter how much proof or information we gather, on these situations and their lives. We are not directly involved; therefore, we should not take on the role of attacker.
Hate on behalf of an artist is still hate.
As fans, we should support our artists for being brave and vulnerable by sharing their feelings and experiences with us. We applaud vulnerability, openness, and preach about mental health, but don’t recognize that we play a major role in helping or breaking an artists’ mental health. It is our job within a fandom to stop toxicity, negativity and represent our artist and their values properly.
Fandoms have the strength and drive of any army and can do extraordinary things for the community, each other, and specifically, their artist. Look at the BTS Army for example. These passionate fans band together to create their own site, raise money, and organize events. They are further spreading positivity and kindness in the world in the name of BTS.
Fans uniting should not be overlooked as they are powerful and influential. We can sell out stadiums and break streaming records, but we also have the power to save peoples’ lives and preserve their mental health. We preach love and support, but need to be mindful of what we do in the name of an artist and evaluate if we are spreading positivity or are tearing others down.
Artists also need to recognize that they are the prime influence and leader of their fandoms. They need to observe how their fans react and respond to their art. If they are spreading negativity and hate, it is the responsibility of the artist to intervene and address the problem so fans understand that this is not what the artist wants. Once this message is clear, fans will correct those who continue that behavior.
With writing and releasing these three tracks, Joshua has channeled the negativity of the past year and harassment into positivity and empowerment. He is furthering his message by donating 100% of the merch supporting these singles to charity and donating all earnings of his song, “Crisis” to mental health organizations.