I like concerts, as I’m sure most people do. They’re fun, they’re impulsive and, if done well, they keep you coming back. The rush of adrenaline one gets from watching their favorite artist roam the stage alongside thousands of other screaming fans is pure dopamine. That said, I’ve only been to a handful of them, so I won’t necessarily say I’m an expert.
However, I don’t enjoy live music where the crowd is totally, or perhaps mostly, uncontrolled. I really wouldn’t enjoy it when an ambulance shows up and the artist continues to perform. Personally, I would feel guilty about attending a concert, especially when I read the news the next day that eight people passed — the number has since risen to nine.
I understand that Travis Scott, a multimillionaire and masterclass entertainer, did not intend the crowd at the Astroworld Festival to start trampling each other, let alone for people to die. However, he is not totally innocent either. When 50,000 people are clamoring to get close to a stage, what do you think is going to happen?
Hindsight is 20/20, sure. Yet, for some reason, the Houston police chief felt strongly enough to enter Scott’s trailer before the show to convey concerns about the size and energy of the crowd, likely because Scott is known for making crowds rowdy. Shockingly (not really), the rapper didn’t listen. A sold-out festival of hype-fueled fanatics sounded cool beforehand, I agree. But when there is a potential safety issue, the implications grow much larger than new marketing material or a fun memory. Now, his negligence has resulted in a slew of lawsuits.
I could even look past all this if Scott stopped his show. But he didn’t and, internally, we all know he wouldn’t anyway. Don’t kill the vibe, they all say. Scott loves to open his songs with “It’s Lit!” Sorry, Travis, but there is no disguising the optics on this one. You can’t evade the negatives of the situation or the downfalls of your judgement. You have to face the music and acknowledge that you are culpable, at least to some extent.
Kyrie Irving denied himself the vaccine. Not just any common flu shot you could get at Walgreens, however, but rather the one prospective chance at immunity from a pandemic that has claimed the lives of millions. Who is Kyrie Irving, you might ask? He plays professional basketball for the Brooklyn Nets. Oh, and he signed a four-year, $136 million-dollar contract to do so. Times must be tough.
He lives in New York City, a metropolitan area that just so happened to impose a vaccine mandate. While the National Basketball Association doesn’t have one, the vast majority of players have decided to get vaccinated anyway. If 95% of players in the league can be poked by a needle, so can Irving. Nevertheless, he claims it is “his choice” and has no plans to get it anytime soon.
He is right: Ultimately, no organization or administration can force immunizations. However, it’s his job — he can’t cash in on his payday without his 4×3 white piece of paper from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, at a certain point, how much is his absence costing the organization? There’s quite a good possibility that fans from all over New York and, to a lesser extent, the country, are coming to see him play. They shell out hundreds for the experience, only to arrive and he’s not there. That can’t reflect positively on the Nets. No player is more important than the team, and there are many other point guards who would gladly replace him.
Each of these celebrities is in the wrong, there is no doubt. But the real question remains: Why did they each take the actions they did? It would seem that the solutions here are simple: stop the show and get the vaccine. Yet this fame-centric community has over-complicated matters once again, caught up in the act of bravado to try to boost their self-image.
In both instances, there is a lack of respect for the potency of these deadly devices; one is physical, multiplied and loud, while the other is airborne and silent. Yet the respective statuses of these famous individuals has them feeling invincible, immune from the consequences of ignorance. I’m afraid somebody needs to tell these two that this isn’t how things work.
You see, with great power comes great responsibility. As these two try to master their respective platforms, they must understand that their actions are viewed under a microscope. Their reasoning and decisions are able to influence the population, for better or worse. At the same time, they simply cannot allow their massive egos to defect against the common good. They don’t get to “be human” and make mistakes, especially when lives are on the line.
Quite frankly, I’m fed up and ashamed. The oversight these individuals have exhibited is immature, lacking empathy and, above all, disappointing. Shouldn’t we expect better from our famous friends? For all of the celebrity campaigning society has experienced over the last five years, this sure feels like another case of one step forward, two, three, heck maybe even a gazillion steps back.
As I grew up, my family and I would go on camping trips. Each night, as we gathered around the firepit, my dad would tell me “do not fear fire, but respect it.” I’ve leaned on these words in a multitude of situations, most recently this pandemic. It’s time for Scott, Irving and the rest of the A-listers to do the same.
Sam Woiteshek is an Opinion Columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.