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Is Arcade Fire About To Be Canceled?

Arcade Fire
Arcade Fire’s Win Butler

By now, everyone has read about the Arcade Fire “scandal.” According to an article published by Pitchfork, four people have accused frontman Win Butler of sexual assault and misconduct and Arcade Fire’s music has already been yanked from the airwaves at some Canadian radio stations. A representative for CBC says they will “pause” playing the Montreal rock act on its CBC Music FM radio station and the Sirius XM channel CBC Radio 3, “until we learn more about the situation.”

At the same time, the band has just started a Europe/North America tour that will end in December in Montreal with Feist or Beck as openers and it was announced that Feist will donate all proceeds from merchandise sales at Dublin’s Arcade Fire show to Women’s Aid Dublin, an organization dedicated to stopping domestic violence across Ireland. Oh the guilt, the guilt by association! I wonder what Beck will do; he hasn’t said anything so far, and the tour is still on. Meanwhile, a few people had fun predicting setlists for the shows. But is Arcade Fire about to be canceled?

I still wonder why people continue to put artists on this insane pedestal of purity and honesty. When looking at Arcade Fire fans’ reactions on social media, it was kind of insane to see the same old mindset “sexual misconduct, therefore I can never listen to them anymore and I want a refund of my concert ticket.” Really? Haven’t we been there a million times before?

Is this the current state of our society? Are we really going to cancel everyone who has extramarital affairs? This is not about defending Butler, he is a jerk and if you had paid attention before, you should not have been surprised by the Pitchfork “revelatory piece.” Stories like the ones described in the article have been circulating on social media for some time. Butler is someone who has taken advantage of his “rockstar” status for a while, with the apparent consent of his wife, according to what she declares at the end of the article.

The Pitchfork article is another piece describing different encounters turning into sexual assaults according to the women, but the big difference (in comparison with the New York Times’ Ryan Adams article for example) is that the author gave the occasion to Butler to present his version of the events. I can’t comprehend why they did that if they wanted to assassinate Arcade Fire’s career. Or why didn’t the NY Times ask Ryan Adams to answer too? It is just bizarre and in the end, the Pitchfork piece turns into a series of she-said-he-said stories. It was consensual according to Butler, the women were game at the beginning but now interpret the encounters as assaults. You cannot find a triter scenario: pseudo rock star Butler is a womanizer and had sex with many fans because he had easy access. But there are always things that I do not understand in these stories. Things like the story of Stella (one of Butler’s victims) who said: “After a couple of months I couldn’t take it anymore, I definitely said explicitly that the texts and pictures were not wanted, but that did not stop him.” Couldn’t she block him? I have been harassed too and just blocked the guy. And that was it. But not only Stella didn’t block Butler but she “attended an Arcade Fire show on the guest list in September 2017,” a few months later. She didn’t want to receive his dick picks, but she accepted to be on the guest list. Stella justifies her behavior by declaring that “she attended the show because she ‘wanted to at least get something out of the relationship.’” What did these women expect? Their favorite musician is talking, texting too much, and even sexting: did they imagine he wanted to be just friends? I have a hard time understanding.

In the article, another woman declares: “It’s this really complicated thing. Yes, it was consensual, but also, there’s a side to it that was almost like, I couldn’t say no.” Yes, you could have said no. What about the “power dynamics” argument implying he is older, famous so more powerful? Again, it’s absurd, the guy was in a position of weakness here, he was begging them to not show the texts. The women could have saved the texts as evidence and threatened him to show them to the police. he was not their boss and the women had total control, or they should have had. The stories are incredibly murky, sure, Butler was older, but they were 18, 20, or 23, and this recent infantilization of women seems to be the last refuge of the #metoo accusations of these past years. Should we look at every Hollywood relationship and cancel the people involved in a 40-something-20-something relationship? There is a lot of them… I am looking at you, Leonardo!

This is ridiculous. But, of course, Butler’s last statement is also highly ridiculous, since he says he loves his wife with all his heart – but he repeatedly cheated on her. He also apologizes profusely and blames mental health issues, childhood abuse, and his depression due to a miscarriage. Meanwhile, Regine stands by her man, and if I would never do the same, that’s entirely her business. She probably wants to save the band, her job, and her life.

“I used to live in New Orleans and knew about a dozen girls who had either fucked Win Butler or had turned him down,” wrote someone on Reddit (I told you these stories have been circulating for a while). “None of them ever said he was inappropriate to them, and while there were some weird age gaps, at the end of the day it all was consensual. Everyone knew he was in an open marriage. He would come to small local band shows and various DIY underground parties. It was actually kind of nice that he was a part of the small-time local scene and not a snob, though, of course, he radiated fuckboy energy. Then again, this was just my experience.”

What are the conditions for a public cancelation these days? Is cheating on your wife/husband enough? One couple out of 5 has a cheating partner if you believe the stats, and this is certainly even higher than that… Meanwhile, rappers will get away with almost everything, but rappers don’t care and never apologize. Did you notice that these sexual assault stories especially target indie musicians? It’s just a strange coincidence, just like the timing of this article: why did they wait for Arcade Fire to start the tour to reveal stories that happened years ago? There are no coincidences, and I don’t like to be manipulated either by the media or a band: I couldn’t care less about Butler’s fake apologies. But if it was a manipulation to derail Arcade Fire’s tour, it seems that the plot failed as the band received a “rapturous applause at the first show.

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