In the age of social media, many fans are asking those they support to speak up about important around the world. For fans of the alternative pop band, Twenty One Pilots, this situation is all too familiar. While drummer Josh Dun spoke out in support of Black Lives Matter in May, lead singer Tyler Joseph had stayed silent until recently, when he posted this tweet on Sep. 2.
Joseph tweeted, “You guys keep asking me to use my platforms. feels good to dust these bad boys off.” In the tweet were photos of him wearing white platform shoes. Fellow band member Josh Dun liked the tweet, along with Debby Ryan. This angered fans and non-fans alike for its insensitivity.
Joseph’s tweet was not only insensitive but also disrespectful. He made a mockery of his fans asking him to use his platform (that they gave him) for good. It was a strange joke to make.
No one’s telling Joseph to protest in the streets (although if he did protest, his notoriety would amplify multiple causes) but instead, act like he cares about serious issues by donating to charities and funds, or even posting links to petitions and resources.
After receiving backlash for the platform tweet, Joseph posted a lengthy thread talking about the importance of mental health overall, his mental health and how he uses humor to cope. While those are great and important things to talk about, Joseph also said he was unsure if he was able to handle these issues fans were asking him to speak about.
“I really don’t know if I can even handle everything that’s happening right now,” Joseph wrote.
i really don’t know if i can even handle everything that’s happening right now. the scariest place to be is when you find yourself in a spot where you can’t find an answer to the question, “what’s the point?”
there has to be a point.
— tyler jøseph (@tylerrjoseph) September 2, 2020
This entire thread was beating around the bush, instead of getting to the root of the problem: Joseph mocking his fans who asked him to be vocal about important issues. Instead of apologizing, he used his mental health as a scapegoat.
Joseph backed up his original tweet, claiming, “this isn’t a notes app moment. i’m doubling down on my platform tweet. it was fantastic.”
He closed off the thread with, “my tweet wasn’t suppose [sic] to be about human rights. so in case you are wondering where i stand: Black Lives Matter. i just wanted to take a moment to raise awareness about something else that has meant a lot to me for a long time. but now I see there is no room for that right now.” Joseph then linked the Black Lives Matter Carrd in the reply.
His thread was not only long-winded, but he ended it with a passive-aggressive statement insinuating that he can’t talk about BLM and mental health, which is wrong. The main point a lot of people were trying to make is that he’s able to care about both, not solely mental health.
it doesn't have to be a "this or that" situation. we can talk about more than one issues at a time, god knows the world is full of them this year
— pelin ☆⁵ (@wishmakerskz) September 3, 2020
As a black Twenty One Pilots fan, Joseph’s tweets cut deep. It was a calculated move, that he has since doubled down on, not a mistake. But the problem lies not only in Joseph’s idea that his original tweet was “fantastic” but the fans defending him. Multiple replies to his tweets are all along the same vein of “Tyler doesn’t have a responsibility to speak up on social issues if he doesn’t want to.”
While Tyler Joseph, or any other artist, does not owe their fans anything, it doesn’t mean fans can’t call him out when he’s wrong or ask him to do the right thing. Even though it would still be bad, Joseph staying silent would’ve been much better than going out of his way and thinking about the tweet, taking photos, typing it, and posting it. People have died and are still dying and he’s making jokes on Twitter.
As a famous person, he has a platform. And it’s not like Joseph is completely silent on issues — this thread, and his music is proof that he has and still does use his platform for activism, specifically for mental illness. So, what would be the harm in expanding that to causes like the Black Lives Matter movement? The two intersect.
Joseph doesn’t see where he’s gone wrong, even though fans have explained it to him time and time again the replies. If he wants to show solidarity to the Black Lives Matter movement, first he needs to apologize to his black and other POC fans and take down his tweet. Instead of being insensitive on the internet and then scapegoating mental illness, Joseph should see where he went wrong and do better.
Featured image via Abby Gillardi