Strength not shame.

Later this week, all being well, I am going to see a band called ‘5 Seconds of Summer.’
My 12 year old daughter adores them and has got me to love them too. It is such a joy having a daughter with good taste in music who helps you discover exciting new bands and feel a bit younger than your 46 years.
5SOS come from Australia and have been together since their school days; no X-factor manufacturing involved.
You may have heard some of their songs; several have been in the charts and they supported One Direction on a previous tour.
Their music is a mix of feel good upbeat rock such as ‘Hey Everybody’ and lyrical, sensitive emotional songs.

One of the reasons that we love them is that they are real people and real role models.
The song ‘Broken Home’ relates to the experience of growing up in a broken family and dealing with the confusion of parents who no longer get on.
‘Jet Black Heart’ is about the reality of being human and flawed. It talks to young people of the difficulty of emotions and of the reality of depression, isolation and low self-esteem. The video for the song is beautiful; the band invited fans to send them stories of their own struggles and created the video around those fans who have struggled but lived to tell the tale and recover.

These young men have done a huge amount to challenge the false stereotypical images of the music industry. They have shared themselves as humans, not idols or super humans and encouraged their fans to do the same.

So this article made me cross:

The article is written in such a way as to imply a weakness in the band and an impending split; comparisons with One Direction and Zayn Malik are drawn and the scare-mongering tone is neither helpful, supportive of Calum nor responsible, as far as I can see.

To criticise Calum and suggest that he is on the edge of leaving the band misses the point of what these young men are about.
To suggest that Ashton Irwin’s revelation of depression or Michael Clifford’s experience of anxiety and depression are a weakness shows a weakness in the writer’s understanding as to what is needed as role models for our young people.
It is hugely positive that these artists are honest about what they have faced and about the fact that life ..and true stardom….can continue in the face of mental health issues and difficulties.

We need role models like this for our young people to keep challenging stigma. I have written about this here:

Fortunately the fans of the band seem to recognise this, as was shown by their support for Michael after a concert in Michigan last August:

I hope Calum looks after himself and manages to enjoy the tour. I hope that 5SOS keep going for as long as they can. But above all I hope that we can recognise and celebrate the huge achievements, musical and personal of these wonderful, talented honest and ultimately human stars.


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