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They paid for PWR BTTM. They say they got FRT HS DT RPST instead.
Less than two weeks after a Vice headline declared that “PWR BTTM Is America’s Next Great Rock Band,” the once feted, now fetid duo can no longer find its music on Amazon, iTunes, or the major online streaming services.
Playing in a band called PWR BTTM normally works as an effective alibi against sexual assault accusations from the gentler sex. Defense Exhibit A? It’s an 8×10 glossy of the defendant playing lead guitar in a pencil skirt at a PWR BTTM concert, your honor. Case dismissed! But a campy act that makes the Pet Shop Boys look like Molly Hatchet by comparison suddenly finds itself without a record label, management, or tour dates because of abuse allegations against singer Ben Hopkins from unnamed women and their friends.
A Chicago-area fan of unknown gender named Kitty Cordero-Kolin labeled Hopkins “a known sexual predator, perpetrator of multiple assaults, etc.” who partakes in “bullying other queer artists” and “emotional abuse.” Anonymous accusations followed that initial vague, second-hand account posted on Facebook.
Then America’s “next great rock band” became about as current and cool as Air Supply. Touring musicians and support acts bailed. In an unprecedented move, the band’s label pulled its entire discography. Even the PWR BTTM’s Wikipedia page now refers to the group in the past tense despite no announcement of a break-up.
Either they know something we don’t or the lessons of the Duke lacrosse case and Tawana Brawley and the UVA-Rolling Stone rapes remain lost on this lot.
On the one hand, week-old, amorphous allegations neither vetted by cops nor weighed by juries and issued by unidentified accusers should not kill careers. On the other hand, what woman ever accused Jimmy Somerville, Holly Johnson, or the construction worker from the Village People of sexual assault?
The PC pencil eraser rubbed on PWR BTTM’s existence comes after the duo became the unofficial house band of safe spaces, custom-made pronouns, and countering microaggressions.
Following January’s inaugural macroaggression, the “Our First 100 Days” project, an anti-Donald Trump group billing itself as “one hundred songs that inspire progress and benefit a cause for change,” selected the PWR BTTM song “Vacation” for Day Two of its campaign. Two months ago, South by Southwest featured Hopkins and collaborator Liv Bruce speaking on a panel titled, “Safe Space to Rock: Combating Harassment in Music.” Just four days ago, the New York Times printed an advertisement disguised as a feature that celebrated Hopkins and Bruce for using gender-neutral pronouns, wearing dresses in public, and going by “Mx.” instead of “Mr.”
But the bubble-wrapped mob soon suffocated what it so recently cushioned. The disgust stems in part from the unwelcome discovery that the band characterized by one uncritical campus critic as “eschewing the masculinity that comes with tired bro-rock” embraced that mentality offstage. PWR BTTM exploited a market jonesing for the national anthem of Snowflake America and weary of triggers and careful to say “they” and not “he” and rebuffing the gender-binary, heteronormative, socially-constructed world. The act held a mirror up to its audience’s face and showed them an image of superficiality masked as idealism. The cheering throngs sang along to neither a bottom nor even a homosexual but a Bard College-bro with an entitled attitude toward female fans.
The fallen hipster hero sounds like any of a number of seventies rock stars sans the preachiness and hypocrisy. Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.
The horror! Gene Simmons is not really a demon. Johnny Cash never shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. Oderus Urungus was not born on the planet Scumdogia 50 million years ago. It’s not called real business, after all.
“Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” a punk rocker of a previous generation asked the audience at his band’s final concert. Audiences of the hottest punk rock act of today, or, more accurately, of last week (similarly more talked about than listened to), now confront that painful question.
That feeling of violation, rather than any violation Ben Hopkins did or did not inflict upon female fans, fuels the furor of this unlikely torch-and-pitchfork mob.