Why We Fight

[Trigger Warning: This post discusses statutory rape, manipulative relationships, dubious consent and non-consensual sex, and an incredibly unequal male-female power dynamic. If you feel the following discussion of this topic may trigger you, please don’t read this article – my rambling is not worth it. I’d also like to take this time and warn that there may be some cis-normativity in this article – while it is of course true that not every man has a penis, the ones I will be discussing today do, though if I had my way, that would not be true any longer. Lastly, I will be using female terms to describe the demographic pool of victims, even though I would not be at all surprised if there are people out there who were affected by these situations that no longer identify as female. This is for ease of this particular discussion, and I hope all my non-binary readers and friends out there will forgive this instance.]

A little over a week ago, it was revealed that a pillar of the wizard rock community, Alex Carpenter (founding member and frontman for The Remus Lupins) was not just, as I had long suspected, an insecure douchebag, but one that manipulated multiple underage girls into relationships and statutory rape with him, as well as relationships with of-age women that were just as manipulative and even less consenting, to a horrifying degree. Then, it came out a couple days later that Luke Conard, one of the two most popular and visible members of Ministry of Magic, was also incredibly manipulative in his relationships with wrock and youtube celebrities, and while he did not technically break the law in the same way Alex did, he is now yet another example of a male internet celebrity using his fame among much younger females to manipulate multiple people into what can only be termed emotionally abusive relationships. Oh, and he also kept all of the money from the first All Caps album, a joint band between him and Kristina of The Parselmouths. So yeah, class act.

While I pretty much immediately reacted on twitter, I’ve waited to write an “official” post about the matter, because it has taken this long for my feelings about this situation to settle down to a level where I can coherently write about it without every other word being “stab”. Honestly, I’m not even sure if I’ll ever not feel that way, but my friendly therapist named Hannibal suggested that I channel my anger and emotions into writing or something else constructive, instead of just bottling it in. Speaking of which, I will do my best to keep this brief, seeing as he’s invited to have me for dinner in a couple hours.

Of all the overriding emotions I’ve been feeling, probably the most prominent and incessant one has been guilt. Not out of a personal culpability, but because I helped enforce both a celebrity and a culture of fawning that facilitated these awful events. Part of it is the guilt that I did think both Alex and Luke were kind of douchebags, but I usually did my best to not say such things outright, and really did try and keep ad hominem attacks to an absolute minimum. Sure, they were kind of dicks, but as far as I knew, that only extended to their inability to handle criticism and the shocking idea that someone might not like something they had made. I still respected them both as musicians and professionals, if not as private individuals. And part of me can’t help but wonder – what if I had pushed at their douchiness and actions more? What if I had been more vocal and open about my misgivings about their character? Would that have maybe helped somehow, to bring things to light sooner?

Probably not.

I’m well aware that these are more the fantasies of someone with a fair amount of privilege wishing that there had been some way for thon to prevent the terrible things that happened to thon’s friends and fellow community members. But I cannot help but wonder, and wish. However, I feel the guilt more keenly on a less hypothetical level – not only did I monetarily support these monsters, multiple times throughout the years (I bought every MoM album, a couple Luke singles, and a few buttons with robots on them or something once; in addition, I have purchased almost every album Alex has been a part of, and multiple pieces of merchandise from him), but I exhorted other people to do the same. Now sure, I had my fair share of disparaging remarks to say about certain TRL and MoM albums or songs, but I made it no secret that both I Was A Teenage Werewolf and Goodbye Privet Drive were in my top 5 wizard rock albums, and that both bands produced songs that I would not only place in my top wizard rock songs, but my favorite songs, ever. Not only did I contribute to the lifestyle and worshiping culture of people who hurt my friends and the community that changed my life, but I told others to do the same.

And while it’s true I didn’t know, and with how much I truly don’t care about the personal lives of wizard rockers (since I naively believed that they were all, you know, engaging in consensual non-abusive activities), there’s really no way I could have known. But that guilt will stick with me for a long time, and I feel it will be the same for many others in our community. But like my extremely charming and in no way cannibalistic therapist says, we must use these negative emotions as fuel to make positive changes in our community and the world. Already we have seen some great things come out of these terrible circumstances, from incredible calls to action to Men Against Patriarchy to the simple realization (though the truth was always obvious) that we have some incredibly eloquent and incredibly brave women in our community.

And this leads to the question of what I will do. I’ve been thinking about this pretty much every waking moment I haven’t been shutting out the world by simultaneously playing Skyrim and watching Breaking Bad, or working at my job helping drunk people destroy pianos. Actually, it’s often been on my mind even then. While my output has been… spotty at best in the last couple years, there are some things I have always intended to write before hanging up my pants for good – Top 10 Albums, a whole mess of Top 7 Songs About X, and I have even been long strongly considering listing the Top 500 Wizard Rock Songs, as kind of a capstone to my writing. But now comes the dilemma – do I leave out a song or album that I know deserves to be recognized, or do I publish further exultations about how good the work of a pedophilic manipulative dickrag is?

It’s an age-old question in the art form of reviewing – is it morally acceptable to give a piece of art a good review declaring it as such, when it was created by someone you are morally opposed to? And in a broad cultural context, an answer of “yes” can be acceptable – like, if the Ender’s Game movie had actually been any good, I personally feel it would be acceptable to say as much, even though you would be exhorting people to give money to noted Sperglord Supreme, Orson Scott Card. But in as small a community as wizard rock really is? Where only 50-100 people deciding to never give another penny to someone can dramatically change thon’s life? Even though I am a staunch supporter of the freedom of speech, and there are few things I hate more than censorship, I can see no moral way to justify doing the same.

So, I will never again review another Remus Lupins song, album, video, or t-shirt, positively or negatively. Because while I cannot continue to say good things about work done by Alex Carpenter, I also will not post a bunch of disparaging but untruthful reviews, as it would solve pretty much nothing and only serve to weaken the credibility of my previous negative statements. I had actually been long planning to a big block of Remus Lupins reviews, a career-wide retrospective, and there is no way in hell I’m doing that anymore. The only possible exception I’ll make is I might review The Next Great Adventure EP, because that disc was fucking awful.

With Luke, the path ahead is trickier. Even though Alex eventually added more members to TRL, the band was always very clearly his, not to mention the fact that roughly half of TRL’s oeuvre was solo Alex stuff. But while Luke has always been a member of MoM, and one of the most popular and visible ones at that, you can’t really say that it was his band any more than it was Jason’s or Aaron’s (or Mark, or Mark’s brother, or that other guy). Moreover, it does seem unfair to me to shaft another 4-5 people in a collaborative, multi-member band based on the assholeness of one member.

But then I remember that the vast majority of people who would buy a MoM album already have, and they were far and away the most profitable wizard rock band ever (in terms of iTunes sales). And all the other people seem to either have a decent enough YouTube following, or have settled into a comfortable muggle life, and the 20 cents or whatever they would receive from me pimping out “A Phoenix Lament” yet a-fucking-gain would not really matter. Like, Mark, if you really want, I can just freakin’ paypal you a quarter – but I assume you don’t care. I’ve also decided that for every previously-written article that mentions Alex or Luke in a more than passing manner, I will add a brief disclaimer at the top. I’m not gonna change the past, but I’m also not gonna pretend shit didn’t happen.

Still, all I’ve mentioned so far is things I won’t do, and this kind of event requires more than that. Earlier today, I found out that one of my favorite wizard rockers, Seven Potters, had re-recorded and released a song off her recent EP. The song is entitled “Why Fight?“, and it’s one that I had been ruminating on just yesterday, and how it was relevant to recent events. I highly urge you to check it out (and while you’re at it, How To Destroy A Horcrux, Part 8 cuz that shit is dope). I mention this because starting on April 1st, after I get out of the way whatever inane April Fool’s thing I do, I will begin a month-long exercise of daily posting a link to, and sometimes an accompanying post about, a particular song or album by a female wizard rocker that I feel deserves some more love and recognition. I will be tweeting these along with the hashtag #thisiswhywefight (#whyfight is all people complaining about kids or whatever, and #whywefight is all about renewing some NBC show I have literally never heard of), and if’n you want, I’d encourage you to do the same as well.

We don’t have to take back our fandom. We just have to remind ourselves that it was always ours to begin with.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: The Top 7 Songs About Luna | The Wrock Snob

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