Since first coming on the scene in 2009 with his Bastard mixtape, LA rapper Tyler, The Creator has been one of the most controversial figures in music.
You can’t say he doesn’t invite it, with lyrics like “And you call this shit rape but I think that rape’s fun” and “Raped a pregnant bitch and told my friends I had a threesome”.
If the point of art is to provoke, then Tyler is a consummate artist. The aura of controversy that follows him seemingly everywhere he goes hasn’t been seen since the height of Eminem mania in the late ’90s.
His intimate relationship with controversy, viral multimedia approach to marketing, and if you like, his music, have bestowed the 24-year-old California native with a die-hard global following, including in Australia, where he’s set to tour this September.
However, his forthcoming Australian tour has been met with considerable resistance from the members of activist group Collective Shout, who have pushed to have Tyler’s visa revoked.
Earlier this week, Tyler tweeted that Collective Shout had succeeded in their mission. “T is now banned from Australia,” he wrote, congratulating Coralie Alison, Director of Operations at Collective Shout.
While Frontier Touring, the promoters of Tyler’s upcoming Australian tour, soon clarified that no decision has yet been made on the rapper’s visa (later confirmed by the Immigration Department), Tyler’s fans were incensed.
It’s not hard to see where their frustrations are coming from. Tyler and the rest of his now-defunct Odd Future collective have managed to corner the market on angst-ridden youth, a throne once occupied by the likes of Eminem and Kurt Cobain.
However, there are ways to channel your frustrations that any reasonable person will agree are appropriate and ways that are not only inappropriate, but dangerous, immoral, and even illegal.
Since Tyler claimed that he’s been banned from Australia, Coralie Alison has been the victim of a disturbing torrent of non-stop abuse literally at the hands of the rapper’s fans.
Regardless of what you think of Tyler, The Creator and whether or not he should be allowed to tour Australia, there is no excuse for the abuse that Ms Alison has suffered.
Tone Deaf recently spoke to Ms Alsion via email to ask her about the campaign to have Tyler, The Creator banned, the mission of Collective Shout, and the sickening abuse she’s been suffering for the past 72 hours.
Tone Deaf: How did the campaign to have Tyler, The Creator barred from Australia come about?
Coralie Alison: We have been following Tyler’s actions for some time now. There are numerous examples in his past of inciting violence against women and inciting riots.
Australian Immigration Fact Sheet 78 on Controversial Visa Applicants refers to “people whose presence in Australia may, because of their activities, reputation, known record or the cause they represent and propagate, vilify or incite discord in the Australian community or a segment of that community, or represent a danger to the Australian community or a segment of that community.”
We believe his past actions, including his abuse towards one of our activists in 2013, mean that he meets the Department’s definition of a ‘Controversial Visa Applicant’.
TD: Frontier Touring and the Department of Immigration have both said Tyler’s visa is still in review – do you know why Tyler would tweet that he’s been banned?
CA: No, I don’t. I’m unsure of the motivation behind the tweet, however I believe he is well aware of what the consequences of the tweet would be. In 2013, he retweeted one of our activists and it also resulted in rape and death threats.
TD: There are other musicians who say offensive things in their lyrics, even some who’ve been charged with actual crimes. Why was Tyler, specifically, your target?
CA: We run numerous campaigns throughout the year. He was our target because had an Australian tour and met the definition of a controversial visa applicant.
We campaigned against Eminem last year and recently spoke out about Rihanna’s graphic video clip. Violence against women is never okay.
TD: Collective Shout have made submissions to Parliament about reviewing the classification for the music of Cannibal Corpse, yet they toured as recently as last year and Collective Shout didn’t seem to go after them?
CA: There are many additional campaigns that we could run if we had more resources. We have one full time staff member and two part time staff members. Our movement is mostly volunteer-run. I’m sure as our movement grows and we have more team members, we would be able to tackle numerous campaigns at once.
TD: Are there other artists that Collective Shout thinks should not be allowed to tour Australia?
CA: All artists that breach the visa requirements should not be allowed in Australia. The Immigration Department has guidelines for a reason and needs to do a character reference on all people entering.
This goes for other types of celebrities, like Floyd Mayweather who had his visa denied earlier this year.
TD: Are you able to detail the backlash that’s been directed at you since Tyler tweeted that he’s been banned from Australia?
CA: The abuse directed at me over the last three days has been horrific. People have described in details how they are going to rape, mutilate, and murder me. Regardless of your views on Tyler this type of behaviour is never okay.
Our government has a national plan to address violence against women. Approximately two women are murdered every week in Australia and the Victoria Police respond to domestic violence calls every 10 minutes.
This is at epidemic proportions and we need to look at the cultural drivers that allows this abuse to be normalised.
TD: Do you believe Tyler is responsible for the hateful attacks that have been directed at you?
CA: Each person who has sent abuse to me is responsible for their own actions. However, the abuse would not have been so targeted and so extreme if Tyler had not tweeted about me.
Given that this scenario happened in 2013 with one of our activists, I have no doubt that Tyler knew what the outcome of his tweet would be.
TD: You’ve said that Tyler “knew this would be the outcome when he tagged me“, did you at all anticipate that going after Tyler would result in such attacks, considering his and his fan base’s reputation?
CA: The campaign has been going for months and we haven’t received mass targeted abuse until his tweet. As activists we are used to receiving abuse. But abuse from Tyler’s fans is particularly aggressive.
I have a thick skin, so I don’t let it get to me, however it does raise concerns when those that listen to Tyler’s music go on to make death threats. I draw a correlation. I will be taking the matter further with the Australian Federal Police.
TD: Does Collective Shout have any kind of position on Maroon 5? They’ll be touring Australia in the coming months and their ‘Animals’ video famously irked some people with its content.
CA: I used to be a fan of Maroon 5 and had purchased a previous album. I was so disappointed when their music took a turn in this direction. Our team briefly discussed the ‘Animals’ video clip last year.
We didn’t have capacity to run a campaign at the time, however some supporters were wanting a ban on YouTube due to the graphic nature of the clip. When I watched the clip I found it extremely chilling and disturbing.
In reality women walk to their cars at night with their keys between their fingers for a reason. Stalking, street harassment, non-consensual sexual attention are things that many women have to face.
How far can we take the artistic expression when it becomes a cultural driver in normalising rape culture?
TD: Do Collective Shout believe Maroon 5 should have their visas revoked and be prevented from touring Australia?
CA: We haven’t formally discussed that. Tyler has a reputation for inciting discord, riots, violence against women. His actions as well as his lyrics mean he is a controversial visa applicant.