Image Courtesy of Joel Muniz, from Unsplash; https://unsplash.com/photos/mXF1hOJ37BI
Maddie Hunt, Queen’s University
Edited by: Sandrine Jacquot
Celebrities, influencers, social icons…at what point do we realize they are normal people to whom we’ve given immense power and platform? So much so, that some of your idols have become completely disconnected from reality and the good characteristics of it : empathy, care, humility, etc.
The devastating events that occurred at the Astroworld festival in Houston, Texas proved just that. During the first weekend of November, rapper Travis Scott performed at a festival in which eight people lost their lives during the performance, including a nine year old boy. As the music played, the crowd began to charge the stage, trampling any obstacle in their path – even if that obstacle was a person. While this tragedy was not in the performer’s control, the response to the injuries and deaths was. Social media’s current prized possession, Tik Tok, documented video footage of terrified concert-goers climbing the camera tower and begging for help, shouting to the crew that “there’s someone dead in there!” and yet, the crew’s only response was to shoo this terrified person away. To have no response from the crew was one thing, but for Scott, standing above everyone to show no emotion, no sense of worry or need to interject speaks volumes of the disconnect he has from reality. The chief of the Houston Fire Department, commented on this in an interview with CBC saying: “The artist, if he notices something that’s going on, he can certainly pause that performance, turn on the lights and say: “’hey, we’re not going to continue until this thing is resolved’”, as well as mentioning that “at one point there was an ambulance that was trying to make its way through the crowd. The artist has command of that crowd,”.
This isn’t to say Travis Scott is the only artist to ever have the crowd surge forward, or that Scott is the only artist to ever not respond during these occurrences. However, the instance stands out like a sore thumb in comparison to other music stars and how they’ve shown compassion in similar situations. One example being Harry Styles, who, during a show in 2019 saw a fan faint, immediately telling the band to stop performing to “ask a group of fans if they were okay. When the crowd responded, ‘no’, Harry asked attendees to take ‘one very slow, very gentle step back’ so that medics could reach the fans”. Other artists have acted similarly, including that of Adele, Linkin Park, Lady Gaga, and more, prompting fans to urge Travis Scott to “take notes”.
While this is a tragedy in and of itself, and should not be dismissed, my objective is not to highlight the lack of response from the crew, staff, and performer themselves but rather the overarching theme of celebrities’ lack of action in all aspects; action that they are able to take for a number of important issues given the platform we have granted them, and yet they do not. The tragedy of the festival simply acknowledged one instance of this lack of connection some celebrities have to other human beings.
When we give another human being global power and leverage, logically and empathetically speaking, it would make sense that those individuals would do something in return to help their fellow people – it is simply common courtesy. So, to lack compassion, to be indifferent, to ignore the power they have to create change, raise awareness, and/or to help on-going issues, is a direct reflection of the person themselves. It is a complete and utter reflection of their disconnection from reality; to be so high on their pedestal that they can no longer feel, nor see, the world below them. A world filled with inequality, poverty, issues of world hunger, drought, etc. and yet, there seems to be a lack of response and remorse on their end, as they stand on the platforms we as a society have built for them.
This raises questions about the dangers of putting celebrities on the pedestals that we as a society have constructed for them; a pedestal which has continuously allowed these public figures’ to get away with poor behavior and a lack of positive human qualities – qualities like empathy and humility which are arguably the most important parts of what makes us, us. Kindness, compassion, dependability, trust, all fazed away into money and fame, and we encourage it- in fact, we endorse it. We constructed the pedestals they stand on, and empower them, even if that means empowering ignorance, indifference, and avariciousness. So what does that say about us? Have we lost sight of the goodness in humanity? Has our development of their idolization lost sight of what characteristics actually make up an idol? It makes me question whether our role in not only building their pedestal, but being ignorant to the dangers associated with it, makes us no better than they are.
BBC. (2021, November 10). Astroworld: Travis Scott should have stopped concert earlier, says
fire chief. BBC News. Retrieved November 15, 2021, from
Independent Digital News and Media. (2021, November 8). ‘there’s someone dead in there!’
videos show astroworld concertgoers begging for help. The Independent. Retrieved
November 15, 2021, from
Twitter asks ‘Travis Scott to take Notes’ from Linkin Park, Adele, Harry Styles who stop shows to
protect fans. Hindustan Times. (2021, November 9). Retrieved November 15, 2021, from
Travis Scott’s concert resulted in stampede, at least 8 killed. (2021). OpIndia. Retrieved from
Joel Muniz. (2019). Travis Scott hyping up crowd at festival. Unsplash. Retrieved 2021, from