What’s wrong with kids today? It’s a question that has followed us from our jelly shoe-clad childhoods, to our MTV/TRL/TGIF loving adolescence, to our Not-Penn-State and definitely Not-Berkeley-circa-1960 University of Pennsylvania. Try as we may to cover College Green with bottles and flags and other objects so small that people look on in awe at the amount of work put into implementing such a task, the truth is that the closest we come to a student movement may be dragging our hungover bodies to the Spring Fling concert each year. This year, however, anyone looking to dispel accusations of on-campus apathy — or just looking to not get molested — would be better off staying home.
Akon, the headliner for this year’s Friday night concert, has a reputation for being a violent, abusive hack. He is so terrible that even Verizon — apparently more passionate than our campus — pulled their sponsorship from his tour with Gwen Stefani. Desperate to be “Konvicted,” Akon was outed by the Smoking Gun, a website that posts celebrities’ public records, as having fabricated tales of spending five years in prison, selling guns and drugs out of his locker while attending high school in “the ghetto” (Fact: Akon grew up in suburban New Jersey), and being part of an elaborate car theft ring. Not fabricated, however, are the videos and stories of Akon’s abusive concert behavior.
In April of 2007, during a performance in Trinidad, Akon held an impromptu dance contest and announced that the winner’s prize would be a free trip to Africa. After a 15-year-old was declared the winner, Akon explained that by “Africa,” he had meant “his genitals.” He proceeded to dry hump the girl around the stage, her head hitting the floor again and again, simulating rape as she struggled to get away. If you haven’t watched the video, do. Similar videos show Akon giving Tara Reid the “Smack That” treatment, as well as throwing a 15-year-old boy into the crowd, injuring both the child and the people on which he landed, because he allegedly threw a pretzel onto the stage.
In the song “Sorry, Blame it on Me,” Akon addresses several of his wrongdoings almost directly. But instead of putting the blame on himself, he puts it on the 15-year-old girl and her father, the club that let her in, his mom and pops and growing up way too fast. He puts the blame on his victims.
The unsurprisingly low attendance at last week’s Take Back the Night, an event aimed at breaking the silence surrounding domestic and sexual violence against women, did not silence its powerful message. “Yes means yes. No means no. Whatever we wear. Wherever we go.” So whether you do it for your own safety, to have the same amount of humanity as one of the biggest corporations on the planet, or just because Akon’s voice sounds like a ringtone, make no mean no this Fling by staying home.