#MeToo Hits Hedley

Content Warning: The following article contains content regarding sexual assault that may be harmful to some.

The #MeToo movement has brought to light hundreds of cases of sexual misconduct by Hollywood and pop culture figures. As the gruesome details piled up in articles and Facebook commit-threads, the now infamous band Hedley performed at the Peterborough Memorial Centre on March 2,

For those of you who haven’t been trailing the white rabbit or been following the long, incriminating hole the band has managed to fall into (hmm no, the word “fall” holds far too much accountability, they’d probably claimed to have “Trip[ped]“). Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard, who got his big break on Canadian Idol back in 2004, is accused of serious sexual misconduct among multiple women from ages as early as 14 years old, dating from the early stages in his career to present. With new information surfacing each day and the moot, semi-apologetic statements being released by Hoggard via Twitter, people are slowly learning that their once pre-teen heartthrob is far from “Perfect.”

While dozens of accusations by women who have experienced similar accounts of sexual misconduct from Hoggard have been blowing up social media feeds for quite some time now, the most notable and unsettling stories are making their way through major news organizations and social media platforms. There’s the graphic tale from an Ottawa women about her Tinder date with Hoggard that quickly escalated into a non-contractual version of Fifty Shades of Grey.

Calgary radio host Katie Summer recently retold her “#MeToo Moment.” On meeting Hoggard, Summers told Hoggard that she was a fan and replied:

“’Oh cool, well maybe if you’re lucky I’ll let you come out into the back alley with me and’–I don’t want to say it because it’s graphic–but he basically said I could give him oral sex, if I was lucky.’”

And lastly, but most disturbingly, there’s the story of one a 14-year-old concert-goer who was found a block away from the venue Hedley was performing at. She was found by police confused and date-raped. Later in an investigation officials found her shoes suspiciously in the band’s green room at the all-ages venue, but no charges were ever laid.

Although personally I’ve never been the biggest Hedley fan, I didn’t mind them, so my best friend and I got our moms tickets for Christmas long before hearing “Anything” sketchy about Mr. Canadian Idol. It wasn’t until about a week before the concert when I started seeing a surge of news stories come out about Hedley and all Hoggard’s weird fetishes, including his apparent favourite pasttime of objectifying women for sport. I decided to put on my Magnum PI hat do some research before I went and cheered on this alleged abuser in an arena.

The more I read, the more nauseated I became and every feminist bone in my body knew I had to break it to my mom(s) that we were no longer going to the concert. I called the venue to see about getting a refund and what I found most shocking was that it took all of 30 seconds into the phone call before they were asking for my name and credit card number to fully refund my tickets. The lady on the phone told me the promoter was offering refunds to anyone who inquired and I could hardly believe how easy it was. Too easy, I thought. I hung up the phone with my damage control senses tingling, which to me only validated his guilt.

Instead of going to the concert, we hosted our own anti-Hedley party directly across the street from the venue. What started out as a leader board for my beer pong tournament pipe dream that our moms were not at all interested in, became a sign which I very carefully wrote and illustrated. This may be (but don’t quote me) the most objective protest sign ever made in the history of forever which read, “Roses are red, violets are blue, either you really pissed off the Illuminati or treat women like poo.”

We didn’t take it parading through the streets or bombard the tour bus when it rolled up or anything like that, but we did display it all night and flash it out my window a few times to potentially provoke the thoughts of the audience members heading to and from the concert. Needless to say, the concert was a ghost town and it didn’t look like many people passed up the opportunity for a refund. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more empty seats than those in attendance.

As it would seem, the birth of these stories was the match that sparked the death of Hedley and caused an uproar among masses igniting campaigns such as #OutHedley2k18. Hedley was blacklisted from some radio stations, and eventually backed out of performing at the Juno Awards. Ultimately they were put in a spot where their only option was to inevitably disappear from the spotlight and its members retire from Hedley and go off “On [their] Own“.

While Hoggard has been careful to not directly admit any wrongdoing in the midst of all these horrible accusations, it’s important to note that he also didn’t say much at all on the matter in the early stages of these allegations.

It’s to be expected he is backed with a brute legal force monitoring his every movement to avoid causing further irreversible damage. His contradictions have not gone ignored by the public and the credibility behind his defence was immediately diminished the moment he went on record just recently saying basically he did treat women badly because he was famous and he could, but not so bad that it falls into a rapey category, but still “[He’s] So Sorry“.

While Hedley’s name has been dragged through the mud and the Cageless tour has suffered tremendously and faces possible termination, it seems as though Hoggard’s main concern moving forward is whether or not this will land him in an actual cage. Irony at its finest.