Norma Jean Frontman Comes Under Fire for Posting Image Insensitive to Black Lives Matter Movement


The music industry went dark yesterday in solidarity with the ongoing protests around the U.S., an effort to let important voices be heard and to keep the internet’s airwaves unclogged with our relatively insignificant crap. I spent the day having difficult conversations with family members about the importance of these and related issues and continued to educate myself about what’s going on. I hope you all made good use of your time as well.

Norma Jean frontman Cory Brandan, on the other hand, came under fire from members and former members of Every Time I Die, Stick to Your Guns, Beartooth and the metal/hardcore world at large for an insensitive image he posted that came off as mocking the Black Lives Matter movement. Brandan later deleted the tweet, saying he wasn’t aware of the image’s origin, apologized, and said he believes George Floyd was murdered, but stopped short of voicing support for the movement at large. Either way, the damage was done and for many it was too little too late, especially in light of Brandan’s thorny history with such issues.

Here’s a screen shot of Brandan’s original tweet including the offending image, which dates back to at least 2013:

Norma Jean Frontman Comes Under Fire for Posting Image Insensitive to Black Lives Matter Movement

The blah blah blah gif, which contained a scrolling effect that screen shots can’t capture (view it here), was coopted to mock a Black Lives Matter .gif with a similar typeface and scrolling pattern in 2016:

Black Lives Matter GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

When fans started calling him out, Brandan deleted the tweet and posted a thread of apologies:

“Haha this is not what some of you guys think it is at all. I haven’t seen that other gif. Fuck me. Deleted. I back the movement, but there’s nuance to it and the conversation is chaos. If you know me, you know I hate ‘the state’. (And getting in trouble on twitter)

“I’m not trying to be on here. But one of my frustrations is seeing the conversation get washed away today with the black out. (Which I said would happen) so I RTd someone this morning you should check out. That’s it. Focus on the big picture. Not me. (Y’all love me though)

“Thanks to the two dudes that brought it to my attention rationally.”

Brandan elaborated on his feelings about the current riots and response to George Floyd’s murder (condensed by MetalSucks for clarity):

“I am positive George Floyd was murdered and the police need to be prosecuted.

“I don’t back violence in the streets, looting, or burning buildings, I’ve spent the time listening and reading lots of posts. Watching all the videos. I see that riots are being escalated by infiltrators and police. I think the conversation is chaos and that led to the conversation being quelled and washed off platforms with black boxes.

“I don’t support the black out Tuesday thing. I think the conversation should continue! I’ve certainly learned a lot. But I think twitter is annoying (but it’s also why I love it). Facebook was worse so I deleted literally yesterday. Felt good.

“I think people are extremely emotional right now (which is to be expected) but I don’t think everyone is thinking rationally enough because of it. Beyond that I am positive that there are things going on with the ‘powers that be’ and they are using us to fight and stay divided. Divided we are weak. United we would be strong.”

It’s worth noting that Cory doesn’t really share any of his thoughts on the state of law enforcement in America, only commenting specifically on the murder of George Floyd. His statement also comes off as incredibly dismissive — “I think people are extremely emotional right now” — to an issue that’s been plaguing millions of Americans for decades, nay, centuries. Yeah, no shit, Cory.

Later in the day, Every Time I Die bassist Steve Micciche got involved, taking Brandan to task:

“This was actually posted by a musician in the hardcore scene. You actually had to think about this and hit send. This tone deaf insensitivity is just appalling.

“This isn’t cute, funny joke. It’s straight up fucking garbage. Can’t backpedal out of that.

“Personally I don’t post donation receipts, but I made another one an hour ago after reading this vile pig’s visual trash. This is a good one among the many out there I chose. If you have the means, perhaps you can do the same.”

Stick To Your Guns frontman Jesse Barnes got involved, saying:

“Hey @CoryBrandan I know you are always trying to make it a point to own the libs but you’re a fucking punk bitch. Fuck you. Fuck your band. Fuck ANYONE who fucks with you. You’re not welcome any where near my scene you fucking coward mother fucker. Fuck you.”

As did former Beartooth guitarist Taylor Lumley, simply stating, “Don’t step foot in Columbus again.”

Brandan attempted to explain himself directly to fans:

“I know I messed up on this. I was uninformed about the gif and didn’t realize it was mocking another one and I’m sorry. I am 100% on board with black lives matter. George Floyd deserves justice.”

“I was frustrated with the arguing and division I was seeing online. I searched for blah blah and that was one of the first gifs. I understand it was disrespectful. I’m sorry.”

“Thank you. I’m educating myself at reclaim the block and I’ve made a donation to Joyce Preschool from their “fund the broader movement” campaign. I’m also looking into other ways that we can use our platforms to help.”

Yeah I realize I messed up on that. I was uninformed about the gif. I didn’t realize it was mocking another one. No excuse. I need to be better. Sorry.

There is some history between Norma Jean and Every Time I Die besides some shared members over the years: Brandan came under fire from the metal world at large back in 2018 when he said that MAGA hats were welcome at his band’s shows (as well as Hillary shirts), a direct response to Keith Buckley’s proclamation that that MAGA hats and Trump supporters were not welcome at his own. While Brandan was simply trying to be inclusive, he received heavy backlash at the time for allowing intolerance at his shows.

So, what do you think? Did Cory simply make an honest mistake by using that .gif? Even if it was an honest mistake, was it insensitive anyway? Or did he post it in malice and then try to backpedal?

[via The PRP]

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