Yesterday, Hands Like Houses singer Trenton Woodley penned a blog in response to a fan’s question on his opinion of YouTuber’s infiltrating Warped Tour. “I find them to be exceptionally mediocre as journalists or public personalities,” he claimed. “They do not perform, they do not further an art. What they produce is media, not art. And I believe artists should always be given precedence. Is that personal preference? Of course.” Below, you can read all of what he had to say on the matter.
Do you agree with Woodley? Or do you think YouTubers have a place on Warped Tour?
haha here we go. my feelings are complex. this is in response to a question i received on ask.fm – asking ‘how do you feel about Youtubers on Warped?’
objectively, i understand why they were invited on the tour in the first place. in principle, they theoretically represented the demographic Warped is targeted at, and music was a defining aspect (more so for some of them than others) of that culture. but i felt like on the tour itself, their meet and greets (for which people literally queued HOURS) took away from what the festival was about – music, the bands creating it, and the fans of that music.
that said, i feel strongly about young people with little to no life experience being put on a pedestal. the youtubers and lot of bands included – these are bunch of people in their mid-late teens, given a platform, and expected to handle the attention they’re getting when most of them don’t even know what that attention actually means. i’m not just talking about inappropriate behaviour via social media, as has happened with bands and youtubers all too often lately. what sickens me is the emotional significance and responsibility the fans have dumped on these perceived ‘celebrities’. i saw this first hand – as some of you may have seen, coops posted a somewhat provocative image on instagram challenging the youtubers’ presence on warped… middle finger up. pretty standard rock music fare.
but the vitriol and sheer brutality of the bullying directed his way by fans who claim to have been 'saved’ by their mere presence and existence – it was heartbreaking. they viciously leapt to the YTers’ defence because the fans themselves felt slighted by someone simply disagreeing with the YTers being on the tour. coops’ caption was simply 'that we are looking up to the wrong people’ – these kids aren’t role models. hell, I myself am not a freaking role model – i’m just a dude with generally level-headed opinions based on being observant, respectful and I regularly challenge myself in what I believe and how it relates to people around me.
i said it on stage a couple of times on the tour – 'you saved my life’ has become a bumper sticker and a 'club badge’ that people are attaching to almost literally anyone we look up to. it’s used as a simultaneous plea for attention and a badge to say 'i belong’. if a vocalist says 'life gets better’ yet spouts an entire set of lyrics that are misogynistic, arrogant, homophobic, deliberately narcissistic, disrespectful and insulting, people still think he’s a saint and a role model, quoting that one single statement to the disregard of all else. and people will defend that to scary ends because of how much of our own identity we invest in others. we (musicians and our audiences as a collective whole) have created a culture where 'lives saved’ are bought and sold for profit. bands deliberately play up a feel-good 'message’ because it sells. and this has become part of the culture that perpetuates itself in young and vulnerable teens, whom I believe make up the majority of the youtubers’ audiences.
let me say this now. no band, no youtuber, no song, no lyric, no religion can save your life, short of physically pushing you out of the way of an oncoming bus. you, yourself, deserve the credit. i’ve suffered plenty with depression and anxiety and if there’s one thing I’ve learned by it is that your own mind is the only barrier between you and a life worth living. and it’s a daily battle. inspiration comes in all shapes and forms, and inspiration is powerful. but only because it motivates us individually to be something different.
I know that’s all a tangent – so let’s bring it back in.
first of all – i don’t understand the attraction. maybe it’s a generational thing. objectively, i find them to be exceptionally mediocre as journalists or public personalities. so i don’t believe they’re any more deserving of a place on warped than a mediocre band. simply being someone people recognize shouldn’t be a reason to be paid to appear for the express purpose of meet and greets. they do not perform, they do not further an art. what they produce is media, not art. and i believe artists should always be given precedence. is that personal preference? of course. and plenty of mediocre bands make the bill. so that’s not necessarily reason to kick them off future tours. but i do believe it distracts from what I feel and believe the tour is about – music. i have no problems or experience with the youtubers personally (excepting one past situation where a lack of professionalism and editorial consideration almost had severe real world consequences for one of us – but I won’t divulge or dwell beyond simply stating the fact). they’re just teenagers who haven’t had to grow up yet. i simply don’t believe they should be given a platform beyond their own channels that makes them appear as anything greater than they are. paying them to be on a tour, explicitly to meet people, seems wrong to me, no matter who they are.
if you’re going to look up to people, seek perspective, not idols or role models. fame shouldn’t add any weight to what we have to say, nor should it be a reason to listen.