When Idols Become Sexual Violence Perpetrators: The Case of David Desrosiers Simple Plan

Posted under Movies On By Ihasopia

This July 2020, Simple Plan fans were shocked by the latest news about David Desrosiers, bassist and backing vocalist from a Canadian band that was formed in 1999. I am no exception, who has been a loyal fan of Simple Plan since the song Welcome To My. Life was released in 2004—since 16 years. The news about David Desrosiers this time is really not good—David stumbles upon a sexual assault case that he has admitted to having committed against several women so far.

 

Speechless. That’s my first response. My feelings, as a fan, must be admitted quite chaotic and messy. Surprised. Stuck between believing and not believing. Disturbed and burdened, very, very much. Get hurt too. This is really the news I least want to hear from an idol I’ve followed for a dozen years. On the other hand, I am also a feminist—and I am aware that a feminist cannot give any room for acknowledging any cases of sexual violence. Even if it was done by his idol. But apparently, who would have thought in practice, (to be honest) this is still not that easy.

I wrote this article as a place for reflection, to explore my own internal process in responding to cases of sexual violence committed by David Desrosiers. It turns out that I also experienced the same dilemma when the idol I followed had been around for a dozen years since I was a teenager—it turned out to be a male perpetrator of sexual violence whose actions cannot be underestimated at all. It feels like you’ve been divided in two—between being a fan of David Desrosiers & Simple Plan, or being a feminist? Should I choose one?

More About David Desrosiers’ Sexual Assault Case

The disclosure of cases of sexual violence perpetrated by David Desrosiers began with the upload of an Instagram account @victim_voices_montreal in early July 2020. The post contains an anonymous message from a woman in French explaining her sexual relationship with the violence she experienced from David.

In the posts, it is described that David Desrosiers started making inappropriate jokes against this anonymous woman when she was a minor. They then had consensual sex, when the anonymous woman was an adult. However, David Desrosiers invited other people (his friends) to have group sex ( group sex ) without his consent.

In the upload, it is stated that David Desrosiers is ‘looking for prey’ from among Simple Plan’s own fans, so they can remain silent and believe that what David did was right. In addition, David also humiliated and threatened to go to the police, if the woman refused to have sex. David is also said to have threatened his fans to attend a Simple Plan concert, if they did something he didn’t like.

Finally, the post claims and reveals that David Desrosiers has sexually assaulted dozens of young women. The most heartbreaking thing when I read this news. Broken, because not a few women who have experienced sexual violence from a David Desrosiers—have not imagined how the impact of sexual violence on their mental-emotional conditions later.

Is all this true? That was also my question at the time. I certainly don’t want to doubt the testimonies of women victims of sexual violence who may have gone to great lengths to dare to speak up. However, on the other hand, I also realized that David Desrosiers is an international music figure—gossip and hoaxes can happen. What is clear, I try to be neutral and try to be open. Open to the possibility that the news is true or false. I don’t want to be too ‘blind in love’ to idols themselves, defend them and believe they are always right in everything—on the other hand, I also don’t want to be a fan who immediately blames them for one thing without prior confirmation and clarity.

Then, the official written statement from David Desrosiers was finally published on his blue ticked Instagram account. David didn’t say anything. There are no denials. Not dodge. Instead, he immediately admitted that he had sexually assaulted the women and apologized. Although, for me, the apology is more aimed at the public and fans in general—not specifically for women who have experienced sexual violence because of David’s actions. He also announced his retirement from the band Simple Plan and said he would seek professional help. The official statement is written in French and English, as follows.

“Recent public statements have led me to acknowledge that some of the interactions I have had with women have caused them harm. I have decided to withdraw from the band and seek professional help to educate myself and act appropriately in the future. I am truly sorry for the harm I have caused to these women.”

David Desrosiers, July 2020
Even though David did the right thing to admit his mistake and apologized without much ado, my heart as a fan and a woman (feminist) is still broken so badly. Because David confessed, it is absolutely true, that David Desrosiers had been a perpetrator of sexual violence, which he did repeatedly to dozens of women—who, as it turned out, were also his fans . For me, it’s a nightmare.

When idols become perpetrators of sexual violence, what should fans do?

I suddenly remembered Seung-Ri from Big Bang who stumbled upon the narcotics and prostitution business (and corruption) scandal in March 2019 and how his fellow K-popers who were fans in Indonesia showed support that was (considered) ‘blindly’ ‘. This Big Bang Seung-Ri scandal is indeed a ‘big’ case which has become one of the most horrendous scandals in the K-pop world so far. We have to admit although not all, many Seung-Ri & Bing Bang fans show ‘blind love’ to their idols. This includes a fan gathering in Jakarta, in order to show support and solidarity for idols who are having a hard time—even though fans are criticizing them in the endInternational Big Bang. It seems that the ‘blind love’ of Seung-Ri’s fans makes them believe in their idol more than the women who have been victims of his prostitution business scandal. I’m not surprised, I saw something similar in the Simple Plan fandom.

I remember my fellow feminists were quite upset at that time too. Why is it still being supported by the proven perpetrators of sexual violence?! This one sentence may be able to summarize the annoyance. Even I, even though I don’t pay much attention, I can’t say I don’t agree with the thoughts of fellow feminists who are annoyed with the fans who continue to ‘defend’ Seung-Ri. Until I experienced it myself when the David Desrosiers sexual assault case was revealed to the public in 2020. It turned out to be complicated. I can understand that for Seung-Ri’s fans , his idol scandal is not an easy thing to respond to or go through. If you want to try to understand (without intending to justify the actions of ‘blind love’ fanstowards their idols), however, there’s a fan-idol bond that’s hard to explain in this regard—especially for K-pop fans who are already notoriously fanatical about their idols. It could be that fans feel more ‘bound and connected’ to their idol, more so than their own family. Who knows?

To be honest, as a fan of a dozen years, it is not easy for me to just turn my back on David Desrosiers. As a Simple Plan fan , I know that David Desrosiers was so deeply depressed that he had to take two years off the band for therapy and recovery. He just returned from a break last June 2019, just a year. However, not being able to ‘turn my back’ against David Desrosiers, does not mean that I justify all his actions (especially those that are wrong, especially related to cases of sexual violence) and defend David with ‘ blind love ‘ as a fan. Although initially shocked, speechless, believe-not-believe, now I am resolute and keukeuhwould say David Desrosiers was guilty, as a sexual offender, of hurting women who were his own fans . That clearly cannot be defended, nor can it be justified.

As a fan who only knows David Desrosiers behind the camera through his music-and-songs with Simple Plan, I’m well aware that I don’t know David Desrosiers personally. I don’t know what his private life is like, or his daily life—it’s beyond my reach as a fan, especially since he’s separated by countries and continents. I only know him as a musician and my main focus is on their music. I also don’t know whether my idol is a perpetrator of sexual violence or not, he could be a perpetrator of sexual violence. So, I certainly can’t stand up for my idol (in this case, David Desrosiers) with ‘blind love’—to me, that’s too much.

However, I can’t help but stand up for my fellow women who have been victims of David Desrosiers’ sexual assault. What they had been through was hard and difficult, definitely not a pleasant experience. Although I never knew who they were, even though they remained anonymous until the time I wrote this article. I really hope they can recover. Their recovery is one of my concerns and I empathize as fellow women, as well as fellow Simple Plan fans who are disappointed and let down.

On the other hand, I remain with David and Simple Plan, loyal as a fan for decades. Not with blind love, but with ‘support’ for David Desrosiers genuinely seeking professional help and learning from his mistakes. I will still hope that David Desrosiers will never repeat the same mistake again, will never again be a perpetrator of sexual assault. So are the other four members of the band (who have so far been free from sexual assault cases). Honestly, I still hope David Desrosiers doesn’t resign forever from Simple Plan, I hope his resignation is only temporary—I feel that the Simple Plan, without the complete line-up of five members who have been with them for more than 20 years, is not the Simple Plan that fans are familiar with.so far. Incomplete. As a fan, it’s hard for me to let go of Simple Plan whose music has accompanied my life since I was a teenager.

However, if I choose to remain loyal as a fan without being blinded by ‘blind love’—it doesn’t mean I have to demand every fan to choose to remain loyal like me. Fans clearly have the freedom to choose—according to their own background and reasons. It’s also free if anyone decides to boycott and stop being a fan. Because too surprised and too disappointed, for example. On the other hand, too. Fans who choose to resign as fans, do not need to demand all fans to step down too.

To me, this may be similar to the case where we just find out that our closest friends we have known for a long time or our own family members are actually perpetrators of sexual violence. Even though they hate what the closest person has done, not everyone can immediately cut ties. We reject and regret the acts of sexual violence that have been committed, but it is very difficult to break the relationship. Just like fans like me who have been ‘living with idol music’ for so long but suddenly found out about cases of sexual violence from their idols.

For me, in this case, maybe I don’t have to choose one—I can still be a Simple Plan fan and be a feminist. After all, only David Desrosiers was the perpetrator of the sexual assault in this case, not Simple Plan as a full-fledged Rock-Punk band . I love this band for its music and songs, which have so far been highly socially criticised and never promoted sexual violence. In this case, responding to what was once done by David Desrosiers to female fans, making Simple Plan was issued the following statement -where they issued a public apology for what one of its members and take time pausewhile to reflect so that similar things do not happen again in the future.

Responding to idol sexual assault scandals, I think the answer remains the same. It doesn’t matter whether a fan chooses to boycott and stop being a fan—or on the contrary, decides to remain loyal to being a fan, one thing is certain: the attitude of fans towards sexual violence by idols must be clear—clearly believe, clearly state that there is no violence. any kind of sexual activity (performed by anyone) that deserves to be defended or justified. Loyal support for idols is certainly welcome, but we don’t need to support sexual violence, right?*