Celebrities Normalizing Festival Culture

Just because Kendall Jenner and Vanessa Hudgens go to Coachella does it mean its cool? Apparently yes according to young festival goers these days. Music festivals flood the calendars of music fans every year. However, they are becoming more and more popular for different reasons other than the music. The outfits, the parties, the alcohol, drugs and much more are factors that encourage people to attend festivals. What’s most concerning is the drug use that becomes more common at festivals every year. Festival culture is something that is well known and glamorised by various celebrities. As new festivals emerge, the term FOMO (fear of missing out) comes into play. Young festival goers feel like they MUST attend the next splendour in the grass this year because it will be way too fun to miss. But where did festival culture originate and why is it advertised by so many celebrities?

When a celebrity like Kendall Jenner attends a festival, everyone is watching. The fashion and the parties of Coachella 2016 are proof of the influence celebrities have on festival culture. When Kendall Jenner wore Aquazzura’s “Tulum sandal (worth $650), the online store got 110% increase in views in the 48 hours of Kendall wearing them. Similarly, when her sister Kylie Jenner wore a black dress at the Revolve party at Coachella, it received 27,000 searches straight after. Brooklyn Beckham wore a Gucci floral top and again straight after he made an appearance at Coachella with the shirt its views sky rocketed ernet to 15,000 page views. These huge numbers of increase show that there is a heightened awareness of what is happening at each festival.

Festival culture has become so much more recognized in recent years. However, it has always been around. The history of festival culture actually goes back thousands of years. The term ‘festival’ was first found in the English language in the middle of the 16th century. The word was derived from ‘feast’ and was mostly centered around harvest. Throughout history, storytelling and music played a huge role at mass cultural gatherings such as the Pythian games in ancient Greece. Celtic and Gaelic cultures held festivals dated as far back to the year 1000. These festivals were called Mods in Scotland, which consisted of dance competitions. Throughout Europe people gathered in masses to listen to classical music, however, these events were usually only reserved for the upper class. In Indian culture, the event called Thyagaraja Aradhana, is a festival for classical Indian music and has been running since 1847.

Music festivals as we currently know them started in the 1950s. The Newport Jazz Festival was founded in Rhode Island in 1952 and 13,000 people attended. A festival on an Island? Sounds like an awesome idea. How did Fyre Festival fail so bad though? That’s another story. But back to the history, it has been said that the Newport Jazz Festival was the beginning of festival culture in America which has widely spread around the world.

Festivals have evolved over the years, and in the 21st century it has gotten to the point that celebrities have begun to advertise a few dangerous habits such as drug and alcohol use at festivals. Vanessa Hudgens was seen at Coachella in 2011 with a mysterious white powder substance she kept in a “small baggy”, but let’s be real the pictures say it all.

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Justin Timberlake also openly admit to being high on drugs at a festival and loved it in a recent interview.

He stated, “I’ve been to Coachella many times, on many different, um, substances. I’ve been to Coachella many times but not remembered a lot of it, I’ll leave it at that. But I remember I used to go to Coachella a long time ago. I remember Coachella when there wasn’t, like, paparazzi and stuff there. Like, I stood in an open field and one year I saw Nine Inch Nails and the next year I saw Weezer, and I was standing in the middle of the field, you know, like tripping my mind out.”

These are just a few celebrities that have been caught out but the fact that it’s a huge part of festival culture is no secret. It’s hard to get statistics on how many people are taking drugs at festivals because it is illegal after all. However, drugabuse.com did a study on drug and alcohol mentions, by festival, on Instagram. To do this, researchers first gathered intel on how many Instagram posts mentioned one of the 15 most popular festivals they analyzed (3,622,365). They then looked at how many of those posts also mentioned or alluded to a controlled substance. The results were pretty interesting to say the least.
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The fact that so many people are talking about festivals and drugs in the same post on instagram is pretty shocking. Celebrities also aren’t shy to promote a festival that they are attending either. Or should I say not attending? It has been known that the recent ‘Fyre festival’ fail was promoted by celebrities such as Kendall Jenner and Bella hadid. They took to instagram to show off promotional videos and share some exciting captions weeks before the festival. But when it came down to it, the celebrities were a no show. The Fyre Festival that was meant to be amazing according to all of the celebrity promos was such a fail that its own ambassadors didn’t even show up.

This hype that celebrities create surrounding festivals is hardly ever a true representation of what actually happens. Vanessa Hudgens isn’t drug free at coachella and Kendall and Bella don’t actually think Fyre Festival is worth going to. As popular culture evolves, things like drug use are normalised by celebrities. People no longer frowned upon to participate in that type of activity if a celebrity is doing it too.

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