BROCKHAMPTON: ART + CULTURE
On any random day circa 2015, there existed the off chance everyone could find a contemporary cultural icon to relate to. With players such as Kanye, J.Lo and even Ru Paul on scene, the feeling of a diverse norm within the entertainment industry seemed almost guaranteed, even if it would only come to fruition in a distant future. Yet, over the past few months, BROCKHAMPTON and their many artistic ventures have proven that this diverse future within the arts may come sooner than we believed, and all at the hands of the same generation demanding it.
It was a cold day in Philadelphia when I arrived for the BROCKHAMPTON concert; the winds were rough, the snow steadily falling, and the sun hidden deep behind gray clouds overlooking the city. The streets were barren apart from the few pedestrians that hurriedly rushed to their destination in an attempt to avoid the frigid outdoors, but in an alleyway some fifty feet away from the Theatre of Living Arts there sat a group of twenty or so kids patiently withstanding the weather for one purpose. Approaching this group, one thing became clear: there is no room to question that they are a part of something much larger than music.
Anyone who has witnessed the line for a BROCKHAMPTON concert will tell you that they are not merely concert-goers. Being a fan of music means you delight in the art, but being a fan of a boy band means you’re a part of the culture, and those who follow BROCKHAMPTON exemplify this well. Diverse, unique, and curious, the fans that gathered to watch the show portrayed a new generation in nearly every sense. Finding each other through the internet, just as BROCKHAMPTON did themselves, their bonds transcended age or geography. Instead their relationships were formed under the similar beliefs that attracted them to the boy band in the first place. These were the outcasts, the unacknowledged, and often ignored kids of communities ranging all over. These were the people of color who felt unsafe and unwanted, the groups who didn’t fit into the norms of their communities, the gay kids who lived in homophobic environments, and everything in between. These were kids who had taken a step back and realized they disagreed with their homes, their states, and their societies and wanted to make a change.
“Question everything,” they reminded me, quoting the very name of the group’s label and diving deep into discourse about these notions of identity. It is not easy to find a fandom that so consistently engenders the group they follow, yet BROCKHAMPTON’s fanbase does so to a "T," always able to relate to someone’s experience out of the 14+ member boy band. Every hour that lead up to the show seemed to only make the fans grow more wild with excitement, and, when the show opened, the feeling in the air was palpable.
Sometimes what you need most is tangible proof that the world is changing to begin believing it. Through their work, their actions, and the space they are creating, BROCKHAMPTON mirrors a growing generation of people no longer willing to wait for the art they consume to represent them. Instead they exemplify the future they desire and share it through the means of their talents. BROCKHAMPTON’s music has become an anthem to those groups that have been ignored and underrepresented and their fandom a refuge for those without a space or community willing to accept them. Their music gives those who seek representation words to scream, to sing, and to cry out, feeling unity in knowing they are a part of something larger while doing so. It is a cultural manifesto expressed through the art of their craft, and it is already visibly taking shape in the crowds that attend their shows. Without realizing it, these fans have become the hand that propelled the group forward into the mainstream, allowing for a platform that has no choice but to give attention to those who previously lacked it and forcing the industry to question their standard. What becomes mainstream? What is accepted under that category? Abiding by what rules? Through what sacrifice?
It is through the power of people like the fans of BROCKHAMPTON that we can find representation in an industry that so persistently continues to lack it. It is important to acknowledge the necessity and brilliance of being spoken for by those who can and those who will do it justice: to thank not only the artists but also the culture that cultivates them and their message. BROCKHAMPTON and every fan that has allowed them the opportunity to shine exist as a product of a multitude of others that preceded them, all fighting for the same future. Let this stand as a love letter to every fan that follows an art which represents a revolution. Let this be a love letter to the growing generation of those who strive to create a platform in which success is possible for the underrepresented. This one's for you.