ArtOfFact Records has found itself embroiled in an ongoing controversy following their decision to release a remix by the self-confessed pedophile musician Mr. Kitty (“Vital Signs – Mr. Kitty Remix”) for one of their recording artists, KANGA on November 10, 2023. The remix is part of a collection of KANGA’s Soundcloud-era remixes released by ArtOfFact Records.
This particular move by ArtOfFact Records was heavily criticized, as Mr. Kitty had previously been involved in a scandal where he admitted to having had an inappropriate online relationship with an underage fan in 2019. The situation raised questions about the label’s decision-making and ethical considerations, with Brutal Resonance for instance accusing the label of prioritizing profit over moral responsibility. At Side-Line we are very much concerned of the lack of initial insight that the rights of a child were grossly violated, which made this release a no-go from the start.
ArtOfFact Records initially did not comment on the situation but then as issued a formal apology on November 19th, 2023, following backlash from fans and artists within the scene. The label stated that they did not condone Mr. Kitty’s actions and announced a donation to a victims of abuse charity. However, their statement was criticized for not mentioning KANGA.
KANGA’s reaction was faster and included removing the remix and issuing video apologies as well as written notes on her social media accounts. Since ArtOfFact Records initially did not issue an apology, they left KANGA to manage the situation on her own bearing the brunt of the fallout. KANGA also said in an Instagram story that ArtOfFact pushed her into it although she constantly tried to reject the idea.
Two days after the initial apology, ArtOfFact Records issued another statement directed at KANGA posting it as a reply under the initial statement. Despite these apologies, there continues to be considerable criticism towards the label for releasing the remix despite being aware of Mr. Kitty’s past.
Where did it all start with the Mr. Kitty scandal?
The controversy surrounding Mr. Kitty started with an article in the Austin Chronicle in Summer of 2021. The article accused Mr. Kitty, whose real name is Forrest Avery Carney, of being involved in a nearly four-month exchange of explicit Twitter messages, nude photos, and graphic videos with a 15-year-old fan from Russia and this in 2019. As a result Mr. Kitty posted an admission to having an inappropriate online relationship with the underage fan and that he was seeking help.
The victim stated that he felt “grossed out” by the experience and believed that Mr. Kitty’s public apology was an attempt to salvage his career. The conversations also leaked out online.
This singer is a pedophile and exchanged nudes with a 15-year-old boy. He manipulated and said that he was depressed and wanted to kill himself, people forgave him and continue to listen to his music. People should know the truth. His name is Mr.Kitty.— vasya (@VasyaNartov) June 27, 2021
Please spread the word ❤️ pic.twitter.com/ycOubKJ8gN
Following the revelation, some of the Mr. Kitty tour dates were canceled or postponed, and the Chicago-based darkwave record label Negative Gain announced that it would immediately discontinue all sales of Mr. Kitty’s albums and transfer streaming sales rights to his estranged husband. The label also stated that it does not support Mr. Kitty’s actions and made donations to RAINN and HRC in support of those harmed.
Mr. Kitty continues to release new material and so far has not responded to this new development.
The power game between musicians and fans
The situation – again – underscores the importance of considering the moral implications of business decisions, especially when they involve individuals with controversial pasts. The controversy also reflects broader issues within the music industry, such as power dynamics and the responsibility of labels in upholding ethical standards. Overall, Artoffact Records’ involvement in this controversy serves as a case study in the balancing act between commercial interests and ethical considerations in the entertainment industry.
The dynamic between a person in power, such as a musician, and underage fans is complex and often problematic due to the inherent imbalance of power. The relationship between musicians and underage fans is laden with potential risks due to the significant power imbalance. It is crucial for the industry, society, and the musicians themselves to recognize and address these risks to protect young individuals from exploitation and abuse.
Here are some key aspects of this dynamic:
- Power Imbalance: Musicians and celebrities generally hold a position of power and influence, which can create an imbalance in their relationships with fans, especially underage ones. This power can stem from their fame, wealth, or the idolization they receive from fans.
- Idolization and Vulnerability: Young fans often idolize musicians, viewing them as role models or figures of admiration. This idolization can make underage fans vulnerable to manipulation and abuse, as they might be willing to overlook or excuse inappropriate behavior.
- Manipulation and Abuse: In some cases, musicians might exploit their power and the adoration of young fans for personal gain. This can include grooming, where the musician slowly manipulates and coerces a fan into a sexual or otherwise inappropriate relationship.
- Consent and Maturity: Underage fans, due to their age, are not legally capable of giving consent in many jurisdictions, especially in the context of a relationship with an adult. Furthermore, the cognitive and emotional immaturity of minors makes them incapable of fully understanding or consenting to certain actions or relationships.
- Responsibility of the Influencer: Musicians, as public figures, have a responsibility to conduct themselves ethically, especially in interactions with young and impressionable fans. Exploiting their status or the admiration of fans for personal or sexual gain is not only unethical but often illegal.
- Fan Communities and Peer Influence: The dynamics within fan communities can also play a role. Sometimes, peer pressure or a desire to fit in with a group can lead younger fans to engage in behavior or overlook warning signs that they might otherwise question.
- Societal and Industry Responsibilities: The music industry and society as a whole have a duty to protect young fans from potential abuse. This includes enforcing laws and regulations, promoting ethical behavior, and providing education about the risks of power imbalances in fan-celebrity relationships.
This is not the first and will not be the last time that certain musicians abuse their power in order to get sexual favors from (underage) fans.
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