PWR BTTM might have set a speed record for pop-culture implosion: One day after allegations of sexual assault, anti-Semitism and intimidation were levied against band member Ben Hopkins, the queer indie duo was dropped by their management company.
By Saturday, they were also dropped by their record label, Polyvinyl Records, which declared “There is absolutely no place in the world for hate, violence, abuse, discrimination or predatory behavior of any kind.” Over the weekend, multiple opening acts announced they’d no longer tour with the band, whose album Pageant dropped this weekend. (PWR BTTM actually had to cancel the tour after numerous venues backed out).
Now it appears as if all the major streaming music platforms have removed PWR BTTM tracks, as well. Pitchfork reports Pageant is no longer available on iTunes, Apple Music, Tidal, Google Play, or Amazon, and is expected to be taken off of Spotify soon. Older records released by Father/Daughter Records, including their debut album Ugly Cherries, have also been removed from iTunes, Apple Music, and Tidal.
“The allegations that have come out about PWR BTTM are unsettling and difficult to read and digest,” Father/Daughter said in a statement announcing it would no longer sell the band’s records or merchandise.
Nonconsensual advances of any kind are, of course, unacceptable. And any accusation of sexual impropriety or intimidation should be taken seriously. But were the allegations against Hopkins vague enough to merit further investigation before summary judgement?
The situation first arose on May 11, one day before Pageant dropped, in a post to a private Facebook group in Chicago: One member, Kitty Cordero-Kolin, alleges to “have personally seen Ben initiate inappropriate sexual contact with people despite several ‘nos,’” and claims Hopkins kissed their date unsolicited at a 2016 show in Massachusetts.
An anonymous source then told Jezebel she had been assaulted by Hopkins, who took her home one night and allegedly “made sexually aggressive advances and started having sex with her without permission.” After reportedly sending her naked pictures, she claims, Hopkins assaulted her again a month later.
Both Cordero-Kolin and Jezebel’s source maintain they’ve “heard stories” from other members of the queer and DIY music scene, but so far no one has come forward to corroborate. And Hopkins hasn’t commented on the situation since the band posted a statement on their Facebook page on May 11.
Many PWR BTTM fans are outraged at Hopkins; others don’t know what to think.
But at least one calls the swift and summary reaction against the band “deeply upsetting.”
“Because of allegations for which this band hasn’t been even officially charged, you can’t even buy their music anymore,” they wrote on Facebook. “We don’t even know what happened yet… I’d like to be allowed to make my own moral decision as to whether I want to listen to them anymore or not.”
They also point out that many other artists accused of assault and worse—from Chris Brown and R Kelly to Jackson Browne and Michael Jackson—still have their music readily available for purchase.
Has the punishment fit the purported crime? Or should Hopkins, and PWR BTTM, be considered innocent until proven guilty? Share your thoughts (respectfully) in the comment section below.