When Your Faves Are Problematic

Lately I've been struggling with my feelings towards consuming media that has been created by people who have been outed as problematic. Because they are terrible and deserve locking up. But the problem is, some of these horrific people have developed things that I love. 

Brand New are one of my favourite bands of all time. Deja Entendu is one of 5 albums I cannot live without. However, in late 2017 front man Jesse Lacey was revealed to be a sexual predator during the time this album was recorded (2003). He admits to grooming two teenage girls and has even gone as far as to publicly "apologise" on Facebook, deeming his actions reprehensible during a difficult time in his life. He firmly states he is sorry for what he has done, mostly apologising to his wife and friends...but never specifically acknowledging the women he took advantage of.

The problem is that he seems to be saying all the right words but they come across as false. I can't decide whether I feel this way because it's a Facebook post and he didn't have the decency to even address the real issue here (the girls were underage fans), or because there have been NO ramifications for his actions, I'm not sure. Either way, the band and music that I have loved for over half my life has been tainted. I am disgusted by his actions and I hate both him and what he has done.

Yet I haven't stopped listening to any of the albums, despite the song lyrics taking on dark new meanings that I somehow missed first time around. I would suggest you listen to Me vs Maradona vs Elvis but 😬...either way, this is one of the verses:

"Barely conscious in the door where you stand
Your eyes are fighting sleep while your mouth makes your demands
You laugh at every word trying hard to be cute
I almost feel sorry for what I'm gonna do"

I have had no problem cutting out the work of other famous dickheads after they have been revealed to be horrible human beings. Kevin Spacey used to be a respected actor and The Usual Suspects was one of my must see films - it's been thrown out since he was announced to be a rapist and general fucking terrible person. Aziz Ansari coerced a woman into sexual activity - I skip his scenes in Parks and Recreation. My teen crush Danny Masterson was accused of rape by several women, which broke my 16 y/o self's heart - I can no longer watch That 70s Show or anything featuring him out of sheer disgust. Johnny Depp emotionally and physically abused his wife and the media vilified her - no more Edward Scissorhands for me. 

So what's different about Brand New?

I've asked myself questions like, should I delete the music from my laptop and dispose of the CDs? Is it okay to separate the art from the artist? Does this make me a terrible person, for still wanting to continue to listen to this band despite what I know? Obviously he is not the only person in the band, but he is the lead singer and their voice. When Ian Watkins information surfaced, it ruined the entirety of Lostprophets, so they will undoubtedly suffer the same fate. I even went as far as to conduct a basic and short-lived Twitter poll, which only served to make me feel worse about it.

At the time I was ashamed of myself, considering the majority would instantly decide to avoid the media of these kinds of people. But it occurred to me that some people aren't truly honest with themselves. How many people abhor Harvey Weinstein but still site Shakespeare in Love as one of their favourite films, for example? Of course, this is probably still the minority.

The big thing for me is that I already have and enjoy many things that are now associated with Brand New. Their music has meaning to me and it feels wrong somehow to throw all that away, even though Lacey has ruined it, deep down. I wondered if I liked it so much because I understood that what he was singing about was morally corrupt, and in a strange way, we can all identify with brief moments of that corruption. Everyone has thought about doing something they shouldn't, for me it was definitely petty teenage things that didn't hurt anyone (except maybe myself). But not everyone has thought about taking advantage of teenage girls, certainly fewer have actually done it. Or I would hope not.

I am a feminist, I believe in supporting and furthering the advancement of my gender and holding each other up. I do completely believe what these women said about Lacey, and all the others who have accused those in a position of power of sexual assaults etc. I believe that anyone who does these sorts of things, man or otherwise, should be held responsible for their actions. They should be dragged over the coals, as the survivors are simply for reporting their assaults, and ultimately, go to prison for their crimes.

But I'm not going to lie and say that I will stop listening to all Brand New's albums, or that I'll chuck out the CD's and forget about them. That's not going to happen. I don't know where I drew the line or how I knew what the deciding factor was. 

This all definitely makes me a hypocrite. I have said to my fiance on several occasions, and I quote, "We don't watch Johnny Depp films in this house". Why does Johnny Depp get the hate when Jesse Lacey gets a pass? Honestly, I have no answers to any of my questions and I still don't know what I'm going to do if one of my other faves is found to be problematic. For now, I'm going to carry on listening to the bands I love and pray it doesn't get any worse. Although that's very unlikely.

What are your thoughts?


  1. This is a difficult one.. I, too, have cut things out of my life because of stuff like this but I know I would have a difficult time cutting some artists or songs out of my life because they've been such a big part of me for so long. But then again, the song isn't the person, it's not the music that has assaulted someone. I think we could still cherish the old stuff, but just be conscious and wary about supporting anything they do in the future.. maybe? I don't know, this is difficult.


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