Let's get this out of the way: this past weekend's Astroworld Festival is a tragedy. As Highsnobiety Editor In Chief Thom Bettridge said yesterday, "the families of the eight who died and the hundreds who were injured or traumatized are owed an explanation — and neither Scott nor Drake have one for them."
Rather than accept a real rationalization of the catastrophe, though, a cache of netizens are blaming the occult, of which they believe Travis Scott and his ilk to be followers. Seriously.
Almost immediately after news of the Astroworld disaster emerged on November 6, pseudoscientific explanations began emerging on YouTube, Twitter, and TikTok that tied Scott and his festival to human sacrifice, satanism, and demonic activity.
According to this deeply flawed yet extremely viral "research," the tragic deaths didn't occur because of terrible planning and reckless on-stage encouragement of overly-aggro mosh pits — they happened as an act of human sacrifice.
I saw one thread where someone tied together three disparate moments from the past week — Astroworld, the Astros losing the world series, and UB40 member Astro's death — in some kind of bizarre triangle of unrelated coincidences.
People are even using the Freddy Krueger makeup line recently sold by Scott's partner, Kylie Jenner, as inarguable proof of a Satanic takeover.
Scott, Playboy Carti, other contemporary rappers have long used this style dark imagery with a heavy dose of irony, affecting an air of edgy cool.
This has always been present in rap music — really, you can go back to Jimi Hendrix setting his guitar on fire and Black Sabbath using cross imagery and find pearl-clutchers freaking out about demon worship.
There are an insane number of erroneous examples cited as "evidence" of Scott's satanic ways — including Bat Boy. Bat Boy! — but, really, it's all meaningless coincidences tied together to affect a greater, even more meaningless narrative.
The comment sections on Scott's Instagram have erupted with accusations of Satanism and demon worship, proving that today's youth culture is far from secular. Or, at least, that extremely online people are especially impressionable to a snappy TikTok clip.
Scott and the Asatroworld tragedy speak to this trend, which warps, twists, or fuses tiny grains of truth (if there are any at all) to inane leaps of logic and deceivingly presents the result as objective fact. Never mind that it makes zero sense for Scott to leave all these breadcrumbs hinting at his "true intent" for observers to tie together.
There's a saying in Qanon-dom: "Symbolism will be their downfall." It's this idea that members of the secret world-ruling cabal accidently drop hints of their true plans that only these citizen journalists can tie together into the bigger picture.
This research is, to put it simply, bullshit.
I shouldn't have to put a disclaimer on the fact that there's nothing funny or worth investigating about the unnecessary harm that occurred this weekend. I shouldn't have to say that Scott is very much deserving of blame for the weekend's events.
But the thing is, there are real-world explanations for these calamitous circumstances and they're far simpler than hollow accusations of occult activity.
Admittedly, the truth is a hard pill to swallow. It's tough to admit that there is no overarching evil plan and, sometimes, we simply endure senseless tragedies for no justifiable reason. There's no secret plot to uncover.
Unfortunately, people find the baseless conspiracy theories a lot more fun and platforms like TikTok are only too happy to repackage them for a massive audience.