Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Front Porch Step

My opinion on the issue

Jake McElfresh, better known as Front Porch Step, transformed from a rising star and poster boy for teenage struggles (and Tumblr's many emo/pop-punk blogs) to someone whose albums were being burned as the result of a whirlwind of hate transpiring overnight. Sexual harassment allegations surfaced in December of 2014 and Front Porch Step's biggest fans quickly became his biggest enemies.

Jake McElfresh for Alternative Press
When I first heard these accusations I was inclined not to believe them. Honestly, I loved Front Porch Step; his music captured the pain of failed romance and not thinking you're good enough for anyone. I had seen him live that October and I, along with everyone else, had adoringly yelled out his lyrics while he sang. He made a beautiful speech about loving yourself, during which my friend and I actually cried.

So, naturally I felt very betrayed when his actions came to light. If you are not caught up, let me give you a quick run-down: He is being accused of sexually harassing underage girls and soliciting nudes. These accusations come mostly from Tumblr, including these two girls. Both, and several other tumblr users, lay claims to abusive or manipulative relationships and sexually explicit text conversations.

Despite the fact that I'm not quick to believe rumors on the Internet, the overwhelming amount of evidence (screenshots of texts, DM's, McElfresh's nudes, etc) presented by the girls convinced me that these allegations were true.

I do not support Front Porch Step anymore because I just don't think people would go to the trouble to make all this up. What convinced me of this even more is that McElfresh didn't defend himself after these events. All he had to say was that he was sorry about what was happening and that he would address it soon.

"Soon" ended up being about three months later, on April 3. In his lengthy statement, McElfresh opens with the tale of his difficult and insecure youth. He then goes on to write that he has never had sexual relations with an underage person and he denies that he is a child molester, pedophile, or rapist. He also writes that any relations with his "online girlfriends" were consensual. That part of the story, at least, matches up with the some of the girls'. Several claim responsibility for their part in the text conversations which, from my standpoint, look mutual.

Therefore, I think the main legal issue is age. Dear Front Porch Step, it doesn't matter how consensual these relations were if the girls were underage. Although he claims that everything was legal, the girls claim the opposite.

Honestly, I think this whole thing is a huge mess, mostly for McElfresh. A note for musicians: Don't follow Jake McElfresh's example. Getting involved with online relationships, especially if you're not sure just how old the people on the other end are, gets you nothing but a ruined career. Allison Weiss has decided not to tour with Front Porch Step, he has been removed from Pure Noise Records' website, and there is a petition to take him off Warped Tour. This is something people won't forget; a permanent mark on McElfresh and his career.

If even half these accusations are true (and I'm pretty sure they are), I don't think he's fit to represent the alternative scene in any way. Jake McElfresh had a huge potential as an artist and an icon in the scene, but he ruined it with his immoral actions.