On April 10 at a show at Toronto’s Mod Club, The Story So Far vocalist Parker Cannon physically kicked a selfie-taking girl offstage during the band’s final song of the evening. This is a real thing that happened; that is a real sentence that was just typed.

A lot of “takes” have made their way online overnight, nearly universally, and rightfully, decrying Cannon for his actions. And let’s be frank, his actions, even in the heat of the moment, were perhaps the clearest, most public example of male aggression and male entitlement we’ve ever seen in this pop-punk scene, which primarily counts teenage girls among its fanbase. Cannon is a jock incapable of healthily handling his emotions, a jock who just happened to find his way into a pop-punk band. If that much wasn’t clear before, it’s abundantly clear today.

TSSF’s bewildering popularity is inverse to the creativity and lasting meaningfulness of their music. Cannon writes cloudy, clunky yet judgmental and aggressive lyrics about failed relationships that occasionally cross the line into slut-shaming. The band behind him write and recycle toothless, unimaginative pop-punk song structures, and for some reason, kids continue to eat it up. I won’t pretend to understand why, especially when going back and revisiting some of those lyrics, such as this passage from “Daughters”: ‘Everything changes when/ all the lights in the room are as low as you/ But don’t trip you’ll sober up soon/ Regain an honest perspective as you puke on the floor/ Can’t remember why your knees are so cut up and sore.’ Or what about “Mt. Diablo,” in which Cannon so ineloquently yells, ‘Do you look yourself straight in the eyes/ And think about who you let between your thighs?/ Cut the shit be real with me’? Cannon obviously has an unhealthy problem with women and his own entitlement to them.

On the other hand, no one is suggesting that standing onstage during a show to take a selfie is a good idea. It’s not! Don’t do it! But one has to wonder about the demographic of fan TSSF courts, as well as the social landscape within that demographic. While a man in his 30s might scoff at the ridiculousness of a teenage girl hopping onstage to take a selfie, because we would never do that!, some of the kid’s peers may see it as an acceptable, even fun thing. Despite its inherent narcissism, it certainly doesn’t hurt anyone, and again, maybe that’s just the way kids are now. Hey, I don’t know. My first phone was that Nokia brick everyone else had back then. I never got very good at Snake, but if I could’ve taken selfies with it at 18, I damn sure would have. Regardless, the punishment doesn’t fit the crime, here. A gentle tap on the shoulder and a “You gotta go!” would’ve sufficed. The crowd cheering in the video as Cannon delivers the kick is especially unsettling.

One thing I do know is that male aggression and entitlement has no place in any sector of punk, yet it’s still everywhere, even in those parts where all the bands are named after New Found Glory songs. I’m at a loss as to what to do about it. Holding these men accountable for their boneheaded actions is a good start. But these things are still happening, and will continue to happen. So what has changed and what still needs to change? Do girls and women, queer and trans* and non-conforming people feel safe at most punk shows now? Based on what I’ve read and seen, that doesn’t appear to be the case. What terrible thing is going to have to happen before there’s an actual sea change?

 

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