IIt’s important when considering throwing a family-size wheel of brie at singer Pink to think about the logistics involved. The first is to buy the brie: that alone will have taken some conspiracy, finding a place that had whole wheels of uncut brie, refrigeration, etc. Then there’s the brie: in all the excitement of getting ready, outfit changes and gins-in-tins, group photos and songs to sing along to, there’s – always – a wheel of brie, which is too big for a tote bag and getting heavier every minute. You have to be near the front, and to bring the brie to Pink, you have to choose to do it during the right song (a ballad rather than a bop). And then of course there is the decision that starts it all: at Pink this weekend, at a concert I bought tickets to months ago and I’ve been getting more and more excited since, I’m going to grab a big brie and throw it at him. It’s not a normal decision.
2023 has been a good year for pop stars who have thrown things on stage. During her BST Hyde Park residency, Pink received both the wheel of brie and a small bag of an audience member’s late mother’s ashes. (“She’s your mom? I don’t know what to make of that.”) Lil Nas X paused a concert in Stockholm after a fan threw a sex toy mid-show. (“Who dumped her pussy on stage? What’s wrong with you?” was the frankly quite measured response.) Less amusingly, Bebe Rexha was taken to the hospital for stitches after a phone was thrown at him on stage in New York last month. , and country singer Kelsea Ballerini had to cut short a concert in Idaho last week after being hit in the face with a bracelet thrown by the crowd. Legitimate artist safety concerns aside, one has to ask: why, in 2023, is there such a tendency to blame artists?
I’m no expert but I’m really good at guessing things, so I think this answer is a combination of three co-existing tendencies. First, the elastic back and forth of fan and artist closeness that exploded during the peak of social media (and led to the current ferocious energy of stan culture) has begun to resume its controlled distance again, and fans have a hard time reconciling that. artists who spoke to them directly a few years ago let someone from “their team” redo all their tweets and posts on the grid. It was easier to go to the 25th date of a show in 70 cities and think you were having a unique experience when the artist sent out a badly formatted tweet a few hours after the encore, but that’s no longer happening really, and with TikTok video from every angle of the arena uploaded before the performance even ends, you really know what you’re getting before you show up. The only way to guarantee that you had a gig different from the half million other attendees this month is to throw a pocket pussy at the Old Town Road guy.
Second, it feels like a natural end point for ravenous fan culture, because a lot of being a superfan screaming your head off in a stadium feels like You uniquely understand the artist and You know all about them and their fame, and much of this is related to knowledge of traditions. Pink holding a bag of ashes and saying, “I don’t know how to react to this,” immediately enters Pink’s knowledge book, for example. To be a fan of Pink is now to know what happened. Be the person who handed over Rose the bag of ashes? No one will ever hand pink creams like you did. You and her are forever bonded.
Then, of course, there’s the fact that everything is now a meme. We know Pink had a brie because we have footage of what happens; we know Lil Nas X quit a song because there’s footage of it; we know Matty Healy sucked a fan’s thumb at the start of the 1975 tour because there was lots and lots and lots of footage of what was going on. Some artists have managed to incorporate this into their brand (Charli XCX signing poppers and a shower at various 2019 meetups, Phoebe Bridgers receiving a sword, which she later commemorated with a tattoo). Adele joked this week while on residency in Vegas, “I dare you throw something at me, I’m gonna fucking kill you” before – hypocritically, if you ask me – turning a t-shirt cannon on the crowd.
There’s no way this is going to end well – as last month’s Ava Max slapping incident showed, more needs to be done to stop people from rushing onto the stage in the middle of the show, and A year from now, it’ll simply be impossible to bring a big brie to Hyde Park with you – but for now, it looks like a very modern moment in fandom. We ran “throwing your panties at Tom Jones via AI and that’s what came out. Enjoy it before he’s gone.