Rex Orange County: Idol or Perpetrator?


Bedroom pop singer Rex Orange County, aka Alexander O’Connor, has been charged with six counts of sexually assaulting a woman for two days in the U.K. A woman accused the 24-year-old musician of assaulting her twice in London’s West on June 1, 2021, as reported by The Sun. He then proceeded to assault her in a taxi and three times at his Notting Hill home on June 2. O’Conner appeared at Southwark crown court on the 10th of October, pleaded not guilty to all six charges, and was released on unconditional bail. The Sun additionally reported that a representative revealed that O’Conner “is shocked by the allegations which he denies and looks forward to clearing his name in court.” They continued on to say that “he is unable to make any further comment because of the ongoing proceedings.”

As the pop singer has released three albums and has been continuing to break out into the world after 2017, the hearts of many devoted Rex Orange County fans have sunk. 

Since the criminal proceedings stop him from traveling internationally, O’Connor encounters difficulty in continuing his world tour. In July 2022, he officially announced via Twitter that his August 13 performance at Gunnersbury Park in London would be the final stop for the year, effectively canceling his upcoming tour dates in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, due to “unforeseen personal circumstances” that suggested he was “having to spend some time at home this year” and would “not be able to continue with touring as planned”. Many were quick to point out that the artist was essentially brushing the real reason behind these sudden decisions. “Why not be straight up w ur listeners my guy” replies one of his fans on Twitter. 

Fans of Rex Orange County now debate whether they plan to support his music now that the sexual assault news has been released. While O’Connor’s music is described as comforting and wholesome, the shock and betrayal were quickly expressed on social media platforms like Twitter. Numerous Twitter users, fans or not, have been speaking their opinions on the singer receiving any form of love and praise after the allegations have broken out, including replies like “@BBCR1 playing Rex Orange County like he hasn’t been charged of sexual assault?” 

Some people believe that problematic behavior should be an excuse for not supporting artists anymore. Afraa Khan, junior at Wilcox High School, states her opinion that she doesn’t “think Rex Orange County should be supported or praised in any way by anyone. [She] understands why his fans were hurt by what was revealed as they had supported him previously, but continuing to support him or choosing to ignore the allegations, is unethical and wrong.” In addition, another commenter on social media states, “I still love Lana Del Rey. Sure, she made some [questionable] comments, dated a cop, and wore a blingy mask, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop listening to her songs.” This comment contributes to an ongoing debate on whether or not it’s acceptable to appreciate and support music created by someone society has deemed as an awful person. Many people have called for the separation of art from the artist meaning to essentially appreciate the work of an artist without the influence of their personal character or actions. “I don’t think it should be judged solely based on what kind of person the artist is,” says another commenter.  “It’s not like artists are saints. Their job is to make music. It’s not really their fault people choose to put them on a pedestal.”

Others point out that streaming the music of someone deemed “canceled” is inherently supporting them. Since artists gain success because of their large audiences, they believe that a problematic artist doesn’t deserve the profit, success, or platform to influence audiences, so mass boycotting their music is the public’s way of guaranteeing that they suffer for their actions.

While Rex Orange County has created a strong foundation of support during his musical career, this incident may be the ultimate deal-breaker. With no ongoing reports or representatives to speak on the issue until further notice in January of 2023, O’Connor’s case and trial will be dealt with on future dates.