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Sunday, 06 August 2023 15:21

Cardi B, Bebe Rexha & Lil Nas X: Fans keep throwing stuff at artists. Why?

Lifestyle Reporter.


From food to cellphones, trash, clothes and even ashes, artists have recently been on the receiving end of all kinds of airborne objects during their performances.

While some react with humour, others are getting hurt by these flying objects. From Bebe Rexha to Cardi B, the list of victims of this strange trend is growing.

So why are fans behaving in this way when seeing stars live on stage?

On 29 July in Las Vegas, American rapper Cardi B had the contents of a glass thrown at her while she was performing on stage.

The rapper quickly retaliated by throwing her micro-phone back at the responsible party. In June, singer Bebe Rexha was injured when she was hit in the face with a cell phone.

Less than a week after this, another singer, Kelsea Ballerini, was hit by a bracelet thrown by a fan, and then Ava Max was slapped by a fan while performing on stage.

Sometimes, the items thrown on stage can be surprising, to say the least.

Pink, for example, recently received the ashes of a fan's mother while she was on stage and singer Lil Nas X was thrown a sex toy while performing at a festival.

The trend, which has been going on for several months, is being fuelled by social networks as the incidents are then shared online, attracting millions of views.

When Rexha's attacker was asked about his phone-throwing, he confessed to the police he had done it because he thought the idea was funny and said it was a trend on Tik Tok.

On the artists' side, many have called on audiences to show more respect for the people they come to see, noting that this trend dehumanises celebrities.

Concerns over fan behaviour

Singer Charlie Puth took to social media to call for this "disrespectful and very dangerous" behaviour to stop, urging fans to simply enjoy the music.

At a concert in Las Vegas, Adele criticised the audience for seemingly forgetting the whole point of concerts.

She told fans, not without irony: "I f**king dare you – I dare you to throw something at me. I’ll f**king kill you!”

She drew laughter from the crowd as she walked around the stage with a T-shirt gun.

Covid and social media to blame?

It’s not uncommon for artists to receive gifts from their fans directly on stage.

For Lucy Bennett, a professor specialising in fan culture at Cardiff University, throwing an object is a form of expressing "fan identity".

She told the media outlet, Dazed, "these are often communal forms of behaviour that foster feelings of belonging in the fan community and allow people to perform and express their fan identity".

But in recent years, this behaviour has changed and is even becoming dangerous. Others suggest the behaviour could, in part, be due to Covid.

As such, this succession of projectiles could be linked to a post-Covid surge in aggression.

Crowd behaviour and interaction

The stopping of concerts due to Covid may have made spectators forget how to be respectful of others. Crowds are said to have become noisier and even chaotic.

Certain behaviours seem to frustrate people more easily, such as fighting for the closest view or fans singing along too loudly, explains NBC News.

"It seems that for some individuals, the notion of being at a gig equates with physical participation, whether that is throwing something, screaming, or engaging in a 'stampede' in a crowd,' says Bennett.

Being in a crowd also affects individual behaviour. Speaking to NBC News.

David Thomas, a professor of forensic studies at Florida Gulf Coast University, said: "A large crowd offers anonymity. So the things you might be thinking you wouldn't normally do, that would be against normal social values, are exactly the opposite in the crowd."

And in this sea of spectators, some might seek to stand out and attract their idol's attention by throwing an object on the stage, for example.

Indeed, some fans might hope to have their favourite star film themselves on stage with their smartphone, to share the souvenir with the online world.

Others crave some form of interaction with the artist.

In 2022, British singer Harry Styles reacted humorously, joking with the audience after someone threw a chicken nugget on stage.

The influence of parasocial relationships

Bennett says: "Some fans experience a parasocial relationship – a sense of knowing their favourite musicians – even when they are one among potentially millions who follow the artist.

"There is a visible chance for a fan to be noticed, to attempt to make themselves more distinct in a sea of other fans, if only for a moment – a moment that can be immortalised on social media and shared with fans online."

For this specialist in fan culture, the recent incidents involve "many elements coming together," including the absence of real-world concerts for many months and the rise of social networks, which encourage fans to share the perfect picture or video.

Faced with the recent spate of misbehaviour during live performances, internet users are now sharing tips and tricks on social networks about concert etiquette in a bid to help improve behaviour.

These include, not throwing objects at artists, not spoiling the view of shorter people behind you, and not drinking beer in the pit directly in front of the stage.

© Agence France-Presse.