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Cardi B to Bebe Rexha: Why the trend of hurling objects at artists on stage is spreading

Cardi B really said enough is enough

Something troubling is going on in stan culture lately. Over the past two months artists including Harry Styles, Bebe Rexha, Kelsea Ballerini and Cardi B have all had objects hurled at them on stage by fans to varying degrees of injury. Flowers and feather boas are one thing – but phones, bracelets and other supposed “gifts” are causing black eyes and anger.

Last night in Las Vegas, Cardi B lost it and threw her microphone at a fan in retaliation when they tossed a drink in her face while she was performing. Adele has been similarly vocal about the trend: “Have you noticed how people are forgetting fucking show etiquette at the moment, they’re just throwing shit on stage,” she said during her Vegas residency. “Fucking dare you,” she added. “Dare you to throw something at me.”

So, in case you’re also wondering what’s possessing people to throw their worldly items at an artist they allegedly love while they play their favourite song, here’s a rundown of all the stage toss incidents so far and what they actually mean:

Cardi B 

While Cardi B was playing in Vegas, a woman at the front of her audience launched her entire drink over her. When Cardi raised her microphone and lobbed it into the crowd the woman immediately realised she’d taken it too far and started yelling “I’M SORRY, I’M SORRY.”

This seemingly wasn’t really enough for Cardi and when the footage went viral online she quote Tweeted the video and said: “Jealous A** B****!” – a reference to her new song. She’s now reportedly a suspect for battery.

Kelsea Ballerini

When country singer Kelsea Ballerini was singing in Idaho she left the stage after she was hit in the stage with a bracelet a fan had thrown at her and smacked straight into her face. “Can we just talk about what just happened?” she asked her audience when she got back on the stage. “All I care about is keeping everyone safe… Don’t throw things, you know?”

Bebe Rexha

Potentially the most severe injury on this list happened to Bebe Rexh when a fan threw their phone at her while she was on stage in New York and left her with a black eye. The man was arrested while she was taken to hospital. Bebe later revealed her bruise and healing eye on Twitter and managed to make a jokey TikTok about the assault, singing lyrics to her song with David Guetta: “I’m good, yeah, I’m feelin’ alright.”


Not as aggressive but still decidedly strange, P!nk has had all manner of items handed to her on her recent tour: Wheels of cheese, somebody’s mother’s ashes – literally, anything and everything is being gifted to her. “I don’t know how I feel about this,” she responded when an audience member’s zip lock bag filled with their mum’s remains landed on stage.

Harry Styles 

Harry Styles Love on Tour showed he was pretty much the king of audience interaction. He helped people come out, rang people’s ex boyfriends on their phones, wore bracelets people threw at him, and merrily lobbed water back at fans when they splashed him with beers.

But even Harry Styles got injured when a packed of Skittles came soaring through the air and smacked him in the eye in Los Angeles. The sweet brand then released an actual plea on social media asking people to stop chucking packets of them at him.

So, why does everyone keep throwing objects at artists?

Although the injuries artists might be suffering are new, the phenomenon of throwing things at performers isn’t. Over 150 years ago, flowers started to be thrown at classical ballet dancers across Europe in aristocratic courts, which eventually translated to opera, symphony, and theatre stages.

In the 60s, loads of women started throwing their underwear at Tom Jones every time he sang to show they fancied him: “It became a joke,” he told WBUR Radio station. “People were bringing them in bags, saying ‘There’s Tom Jones, throw underwear at him!’ There was a picture of a man who was a stage manager, with a big broom, just sweeping ’em all up.”

‘Fans have a parasocial relationship with their idols’ 

But the latest development in throwing things at artists: silver bracelets, family member’s ashes – things that could do actual harm or are just quite weird – seems to be displaced adoration:  “The boundaries between fans and celebrities have become more blurry thanks to social media,” Dr. Lynn Zubernis, clinical psychologist, professor at West Chester University and author of Fangasm tells The Tab.

“Fans have what is known as a ‘parasocial relationship’ with their idols – fans feel a close connection with the celebrity, often knowing a great deal about them and following their life on social media, while the performer doesn’t know they exist. The lack of reciprocity can lead fans to want to make a connection with their idol to make the relationship less one sided. Throwing an object onstage can be a way of trying to get the performer’s attention and be noticed by them.

“Often the object is something that represents the fan’s identity (a piece of jewelry, a stuffed animal, even in one infamous case the fan’s deceased mother’s ashes),” she explains. “Fans know who their idol is, and they want their idol to know who they are and how much the celebrity means to them, an expression of the human need for validation and to be acknowledged and seen.”

‘Fans are looking to be noticed by other fans and by society’ 

Phones, (the item which has so far caused the most damage) seemingly come from wanting social media clout. Cat Burns recently took someone’s BeReal on stage at her concert after she picked up their phone. Harry Styles has previously spoken with people’s mums after answering their iPhones live on stage. In desperation to have their own version of this experience, fans are hurting people.

“Fans are also looking to be noticed by other fans and by society in general,” says Dr Lynn. “Throwing your cell phone at a celebrity may be seen as a guarantee of a viral TikTok video…The psychological phenomenon of emotional contagion may also play a role in this behaviour, especially since not just throwing objects but rushing the stage has also increased at concerts.”

‘It should be up to the celebrity to stop it, but that needs to be a conversation’ 

Regardless of the reason for fans throwing objects on stage, it’s clear artists aren’t happy. “I’ve had it happen to me,” Jason Derulo told TMZ when asked about the craze, which he outlined was dangerous and needed to stop. “People are really into throwing their phones because they think the artist is going to take a picture, and I think artists [are] going to have to stop taking a photo.”

“It’s like the Matrix, you’ve gotta dodge these phones,” he contined. “It’s getting dangerous out here. I feel like it’s not a good thing, if an artist comes really close and you can try to pass your phone, I get that, but launching the phone on the stage, that’s crazy. I think it should be up to the celebrity to stop it, but that needs to be a conversation.”

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Featured image credit via Twitter and TikTok