Co-Arts & Entertainment Editor
Content Warning: The following article contains mentions of interpersonal violence and sexual assault.
In mid-October, English popstar Alexander O’Connor, more commonly known through his stage name “Rex Orange County” was charged with six accounts of sexual assault in London. Naturally, the news of the 24-year-old singer’s actions shocked many fans, prompting social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram to blow up in outrage.
Breaking into the music industry with his hit song “Best Friend” in 2017, O’Connor became widely popular through his seemingly touching lyrics. His fame continued to rise as he was featured on Tyler, the Creator’s album Flower Boy. Since then, he has continued to rise in the indie music scene with popular songs that include “Pluto Projector” and “Corduroy Dreams,” two songs that include lyrics about a blooming love. Across social media fans have expressed how touched they were with these lyrics. Yet with news of his allegations spreading, his story offers a new perspective into how we hold celebrities accountable.
According to an article published by Vulture magazine, O’Connor “has been charged with sexually assaulting a woman on six separate occasions.” The woman, whose name has not been released, is reportedly above the age of 16. After pleading not guilty in a London court, he was released on provisional bail with a new trial date set for Jan. 3, 2023.
In a statement made to Variety magazine, a representative O’Connor claimed that “Alex is shocked by the allegations, which he denies, and looks forward to clearing his name in court.”
Unfortunately, emergency department visits concerning sexual assault have risen more than tenfold in the past decade. With the rise of the #MeToo movement, more survivors have been encouraged to speak about their experiences. Best seen on Twitter, many fans have been more outspoken about holding celebrities accountable for their actions. However, there are still a large number of people who make comments accusing victims of lying.
“Victim-blaming,” which has its roots in misogyny, continues to be a growing issue in social media, and unfortunately, for many fans of artists who have been accused of sexual assault, coming to terms with the news can often hit close to home.
As social media continues to become a forefront in our lives, more and more celebrity scandals come into the public eye. It prompts the resurfacing question: can we really separate the art from the artist? To many fans, O’Connor’s gentle lyrics have helped during the darker period of their lives, yet knowing what he has done, it offers a newer and more concerning perspective on the lyrics. How much of it is really about true love?
According to one UC Santa Barbara college student, it’s becoming increasingly concerning that these music artists and celebrities are being charged with such serious scandals. The student, who opted to remain anonymous, stated that “it creates a whole new perspective on some lyrics that we once thought were endearing and about true love.”
With O’Connor’s trial date set and fans still mulling over the news, we turn our attention back to social media, waiting for the next celebrity scandal to go trending on Twitter.