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It’s been announced they’ve been taken off the bill for the Big Day Out festival in New Zealand due to complaints about their homophobic lyrics, and producer Left Brain is also caught in a legal dispute with a photographer he allegedly assaulted during a live show. Odd Future have talent and there is more to their vision than the controversy they’re creating but the extent to which the one dominates the other is beginning to be a real problem for them.
Controversy has clearly been a vehicle for the group, and particularly their figurehead Tyler the Creator, in the past. His aggressive style has helped to set him apart and assert his individuality in a very loud way up to now. This of course doesn’t justify the offence caused but it goes some way to explain why he adopts the attitude in his work. It’s also starting to feel formulaic however – as well as offensive. They want to do things on their own terms but sometimes slip into a jock-ish ‘shitty punk’ attitude that manages to be both hurtful and increasingly boring. Odd Future can be immature and angry but they are altogether too good to be restricted by the need to shock and simply come across as unlike-able after the past week’s events.
The details of the ongoing legal issue is particularly worrying: both sides agreed there was an altercation but charges were only pressed because the photographer, Amy Harris, received a dismissive response from the group’s publicist and was later emailed threats from an anonymous person. The whole issue was unavoidable and seems to have escalated because of immaturity from their camp. No-one wants to tame Odd Future and their contradictions fuel their craft but continuing down a dead-end of criticism and allegations does the group no credit and they risk being turned into a caricature.
The group’s recent actions mean that it’s becoming difficult for this fan to see anything other than tired posturing. The assault charge, accompanied by the festival pull-out, felt like a development in the Odd Future story from a roaming, rowdy playfulness to something that left a definite sour taste in the mouth. It might be time to re-think and re-focus if they want to maintain and develop the energy and dynamism that made them so exciting in the first place.