Trinity students should expect their college, and by extension the student groups they sponsor, to use our tuition in a way that makes the campus safe, welcoming, and enjoyable for as many people as possible. We are disappointed in the decision by Barnyard, the student group in charge of arranging Spring Weekend, to bring Action Bronson to our campus. We are disappointed in their judgement, lack of research, and blatant disregard for the well-being of survivors of sexual assault on campus.
We believe that Action Bronson headlining Spring Weekend is an endorsement of violence, specifically against women and minorities. This is why Trinity should follow the lead of Toronto’s North by Northeast (NXNE) Festival and George Washington University’s Spring Fling by disinviting Action Bronson. We fully recognize that we will not receive a refund and that we are contractually bound to pay Action Bronson. However, we think it would be better for Trinity students, and the institution's reputation, for the concert to be cancelled regardless.
While Action has apologized to GWU for his promotion of violence against women, it is more important to recognize that he blamed GWU students for misinterpreting his work while continuing to promote the same culture of violence that he purports to disavow. Actions speak louder than words. His songs are still streamed, performed, and promoted. His videos remain online without a hint of apology in the descriptions. Creating a character for a music video who endorses killing women is distinct from simply rapping about violence. Also, just because he claims it’s a character and not himself abusing women, doesn’t mean he’s not still rapping about abusing women.
We recognize that people may argue that his lyrics are obviously too violent or too absurd to be taken seriously. This claim means absolutely nothing in a country where 1 in 5 women are victims of rape or attempted rape at some point in their lives and over 40% of women experience sexual violence other than rape. Our choices of which artists perform speak to the values that our campus promotes. The message we to present to students should not contribute to a campus culture of violence against women. We are on a campus that is rated third highest in reported sexual assaults. The ideas Action Bronson promotes are not jokes - they are real concerns. (Stats from National Sexual Violence Resource Center, citing the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Before listing all the reasons why we should disinvite Bronson, here is some sobering information about Trinity and Spring Weekend: Trinity College is ranked the 17th most homophobic college in the nation by the Princeton Review as of 2014. Trinity also has the 3rd highest rate of reported sexual assaults in the nation, according to the US Department of Education. Ideally, the Spring Weekend Concert is meant to be a part of every Trinity student’s college experience. It is allocated a budget of tens of thousands of dollars.
Allowing Action Bronson to perform at Spring Weekend would create a psychologically harmful and drastically unsafe space for women, LGBTQIA+ students, and survivors of sexual assault. To have an event where fellow classmates are celebrating a man who has built his rap career on hatred and violence against women is a slap in the face to the students on campus who have dealt with these issues firsthand. Action Bronson being chosen as the headliner for our largest concert makes it seem like the college doesn’t care about survivors. We would like to believe this is not true, but the evidence points to the contrary. The choice to have him headline alone has already caused survivors to feel sickened after looking up his music videos and lyrics. They are now left to reconcile Trinity’s decision to invite him.
After the controversy at GW, Action Bronson promised not to perform his infamous song “Consensual Rape.” He currently has a stipulation in his contract with Trinity that states he can’t perform that specific song here either. This was a smart decision, considering the song contains lyrics like “Consensual rape / vinegar solutions / animal abusing / barrel revolutions / Don’t get me pissed off, fuck around and rip your tits off,” and “Take my nuts out your mouth / let me breathe for a minute please / your life is cheap like a hooker in the Philippines.” The fact that he needs a legal ban on performing the song indicates that he may have wanted to perform it, or that the college at least did not trust him not to perform it.
We are lucky that he also has no way of performing his music video, “Brunch,” where he kills a woman, stuffs her in his car, rips out her hair, and beats her dead body, since he will not have access to a projector. We believe that someone who creates music like this, who chooses to play the part of the murderer in “Brunch,” who has built his career on a foundation of violence and hatred towards women, should not be celebrated, supported, or paid, by Trinity College as an artist, regardless of the music he will be performing.
This begs the question of what music he will actually perform, since he won’t be performing his most famous songs. To get an idea, we looked at the last publicly available Action Bronson set list from a concert he performed in Los Angeles on February 20, 2016. Here are some sample lyrics from three of the six songs he performed then (half of them covers), and would be likely to perform at Trinity:
“It’s always poppin’ at the IHOP / Choke a pussy with his tie knot, it’s my block / Chuck Knoblauch” - Terry (Chuck Knoblauch was arrested in 2009 for domestic abuse).
“[Chorus] Get money, get money / Keep stuntin’, keep stuntin’ / Bag bitches, bag bitches / Go crush ‘em” - Money in my Pocket (While this is a Meyhem Lauren cover, it is worth mentioning that in Action’s video for Brunch, he stuffs a woman in a bag and crushes her).
“All my life I was a fuck-up, now I pull the truck up / Same bitch stuck up, now she wanna suck us” - Actin’ Crazy.
While these are not the worst things Action Bronson has written and could potentially perform, they are recent samples of work that he finds acceptable to put on stage. There are many who believe that the rap industry on the whole hates women. This is not unique to rap, and the Trinity International Hip-Hop Festival artists proved that rap can be politically conscious, or at least not violently anti-women.
If for no other reason, sign the petition to hold Trinity and Barnyard accountable in the future to hire better artists.
The Man Behind The Music
Action Bronson is infamous for violently assaulting people at his concerts. These have included everyone from security guards to attendees. There is video online of Action Bronson, a body-builder, attacking a security guard in Portland who attempted to get him to stop smoking a blunt on-stage in Portland (in 2014, before it was legalized in Oregon) and body-slamming a concert-goer who jumped on stage to excite the crowd in Boston in 2013. There are pictures and articles of him throwing a man off-stage in New York City in 2015, but no video. There are several other documented examples. To quote Vice, “What do people think is going to happen at an Action Bronson show? That he’ll stand behind a [mic-stand] politely spitting bars in between glugs of Evian and a dab with a damp towel?”
Trinity students drink copious amounts of alcohol throughout Spring Weekend. No one would contest this. It only takes one person to drunkenly (or soberly) upset Action Bronson by getting on stage, or in his way, for him to violently assault someone. The available evidence suggests men specifically are targeted by Action Bronson, meaning no one is given a safe space at a Bronson concert. We believe this is not a risk the college should take. Last year at the Kygo concert, Campus Safety stood by motionless while students were pushed into fences, stepped on, and led away from the concert blackout drunk. We don’t trust the College to protect us.
His social media posts that are offensive to women and LGBT people are too numerous to list here, but we have chosen to include some recent examples:
After an Instagram bender where he posted a picture of someone he called a “Mexican tranny” and referred to as “it,’” he apologized by saying: “I love gay people. Trannies not so much.” He then later added, “My Mother is Upset. The Picture i posted on Instagram was Distasteful yes, But in no way was i trying to offend anybody from the Gay and Lesbian Community. It wasnt[sic] even a Transvestite it just honestly looked like one. I was stupid and i apologize for any hurt caused. In closing I still dont[sic] give a fuck what anyone things[sic] i love everyone and Blow Me from the Back.” He then deleted his Instagram account.
When his NXNE concert was cancelled, Action released a small series of responses on Twitter to distance himself from his most controversial songs, but quickly deleted them and replaced them with, “FUCK ALL YALL[sic] HATERS BLOW DICK.”
Clearly, Action Bronson is not great at apologizing. He behaves far below our standards for acceptable behavior. We know Trinity and Barnyard can do better by apologizing and correcting the decision to let Action headline Spring Weekend. Alternative parties, like one at The Mill, are already planned. We want to make clear that this is not about choosing not to go to a concert. Rather, this is about having some say in how Trinity spends our money, and the campus climate we want to create.