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Op-Ed: Musicians Kissing Fans on Stage is Weird

We have grown used to these little numbers. The singer or band reaches a point in their show, typically during the same song, where a fan gets invited onto the stage. The singer goes on to perform for the fan, then comes the kiss. Sometimes it is just a friendly hug, others a little peck, we have even seen the strangest things as well, singers stripping fans down, ripping their clothes off, touching their bodies, giving a child their first kiss, or that one time a fan got peed on.  

What is all that? Where did it come from? Some decades ago, we might have found that moment enjoyable. A fun, cute little act where one lucky fan got to make the dream come true for everyone else. Now we might just be passed that. We know that what might have started as an innocent little gesture of appreciation from an artist to their fans can soon get out of control. 

We have seen kids, under the age of consent, being kissed in public by grown adults. We have known of singers taking advantage of their star power, feeling entitled to “stealing” kisses from their fans, undressing them, touching them intimately, slapping their bottoms, the list goes on. But simply the act of kissing a fan can seem awkward today. We have matured as a society, enough to understand that power dynamics also apply to the relationship between a celebrity and a fan, and that admiring someone does not equal giving consent for them to do whatever they want. 

The concept of the fan, or worse, the groupie, is a generalized construction completely devoid of agency. Their sole purpose is to admire. To happily receive what their idol has to give. We have seen singers become angry at fans that suddenly refuse to be kissed on stage. We have known musicians to steal kisses from their fans. Even when consent is verbally denied, it is typically met with disapproval from both celebrities and fellow fans. 

This may be why seeing artists kiss their fans seems weirder and weirder. We have known of situations of abuse to happen both on and off-stage. A minor girl getting her top pulled down by an adult singer in front of thousands of people could have qualified as sexual assault. Adult women have confessed on many occasions that their past as teen groupies was marked by sexual abuse from their admired musicians. So now we know better than to glamorize celebrity-fan relationships. This applies to on-stage kisses, as well. 

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