As I was hearing about all the sexual harassment allegations against famous men in Hollywood, I felt relieved that no one I admired turned out to be so predatorial and vicious. I felt disgusted that so many men could get away with abusing and manipulating others – while still maintaining their fame and their careers. Where was the justice? Why were people still supporting their films and their television shows? Why weren’t they being punished for their crimes?
And then, amid all the news stories, I saw one headline that made my jaw drop: “Brand New frontman accused of sexual misconduct with a minor.”
I really loved Brand New. I first discovered the band in middle school, and they’ve been an unwavering part of my music taste – and part of my life – for the past decade.
And then I was reading that Jesse Lacey, a man whose voice I held against my ears and whose words I repeated in my head, is seemingly no better than those other men in Hollywood, those movie producers and actors who I condemned.
So what difference does it make that Lacey is part of a band I love? Shouldn’t justice be served to him, too? Shouldn’t he be punished for his crimes, too?
And shouldn’t I stop listening to Brand New?
But Brand New isn’t just Jesse Lacey. There’s other people in that band, people who probably had nothing to do with Lacey’s actions. But…can’t the same be said about every movie that Harvey Weinstein produced and every movie that Kevin Spacey acted in?
Am I supposed to create an exception for someone who doesn’t deserve it? Should I really support the art of someone who has done awful things? As a fan of Brand New, I’m not sure how to feel.
But as a woman, as a human, as someone who understands that sexual abuse is unforgivable, I know exactly how to feel. I cannot support Jesse Lacey.
But as I type this, as I tell myself that I cannot support Jesse Lacey, Brand New’s music still rings in my ears and Lacey’s voice still echoes in my head.
So now, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if I should separate the art from the artist. I don’t know if I can – or if I should – support Brand New without supporting Jesse Lacey.
Amid all the news stories, amid all the allegations, and amid all the conflicting comments on social media, I only know one thing. Our heroes are not who we think they are.
We listen to songs and we watch music videos and we tell ourselves that those people singing those words, they know us. They’re just like us. They understand how we feel. They are going through the same things. And they are surviving. And then we look up to them when we are feeling down. We hold them high up on a pedestal, and as we listen to their words in an attempt to fight off our own demons, we lose sight of who they really are.
They are only human, and they are not worthy of worship. Our heroes are not heroes.