We Shouldn’t Be Making Fun of Aaron Carter

Aaron Carter's online behavior is increasingly erratic. But we should be worried, not amused.
Aaron Carter's online behavior is increasingly erratic. But we should be worried, not amused. Presley Ann

Contrary to popular belief, we at the Observer actually don’t sit in our ivory towers, looking down at all the lay folk with scorn and disapproval as we kick it with George Soros and other members of the Deep State. We’re all just regular people like you who are simply trying to make it through this cosmic fluke of an existence with dignity and self-determination.

And just like many of you, some of us struggle with mental health. I’ve been in therapy since I was 8, and I was having suicidal ideations at 14. Two years ago, the cops had to come to my house for a welfare check just to make sure I didn’t do anything, uh, rash. This is all personal information that should probably be left between me, my therapist and my poor roommate who had to deal with the cops while I was buying groceries, but I’m going against my late grandfather’s advice, “If you tell people all of your business, you have no business left” for a reason.

See, back in May, we reviewed former child star Aaron Carter’s show at the Prophet Bar, and we were a bit uncomfortable over his statements that he was making a huge comeback, in spite of the fact that no more than 100 people showed up to the show. We honestly had legitimate concern for Carter’s mental health over this delusion but, as sincere as we were, Carter took to Twitter to dismiss our review and reaffirm this “new wave” of his:

"Have you heard my new album?? Lol maybe your stuck in the past I’m not. Thanks. my new wave proves it. End of story." Amid recent reports of Carter’s escalating family conflicts and a bizarre GoFundMe page of his that made the rounds two weeks ago, we have found ourselves revisiting the May concert review and Carter’s response to it. We stand by our claims that Carter has not made anything that even remotely resembles a comeback, but it feels appropriate to repeat and emphasize another sentiment we expressed in the article: We shouldn’t be  making fun of him.

“We love our brother and truly hope he gets the proper treatment he needs before any harm comes to himself or anyone else.” — Nick Carter

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And I don’t say this as someone who is morally superior. I made jokes about him after he responded to our review, and looking back, those quips were rather insensitive. I also made jokes about Britney Spears’ mental health. I also made fun of Amy Winehouse’s horrifying struggles with substance abuse. I made jokes about people who were at their most vulnerable, and in doing so, I flippantly minimized their struggles and those of people in similar circumstances.

I’m not saying this as an act of self-flagellation. We humans are deeply flawed creatures, and this impulse to make fun of people’s struggles with mental illness and substance abuse have all been normalized by the stigmas against both. If you are making fun of Carter, I understand why, but I would implore you to consider the gravity behind his struggles.

Back in September, Carter revealed that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. He has a long history with opioid and benzodiazepine addiction. His mother has encountered struggles with alcoholism. His sister, Leslie, died in 2012 following an overdose with what recreational drug enthusiasts call “The Holy Trinity” (a benzo, opioid and muscle relaxant cocktail). In 2017, their father, Robert, died of a heart attack.

Grief, mental illness and self-medication are load-bearing pillars that uphold the Carter family’s (not the country band) reality. This has taken a turn for the worse as Carter’s siblings, Nick and Angel, had to file restraining orders against him over what they claim were threats of homicide.

“In light of Aaron’s increasingly alarming behavior and his recent confession that he harbors thoughts and intentions of killing my pregnant wife and unborn child, we were left with no choice but to take every measure possible to protect ourselves and our family,” said Nick in a statement. “We love our brother and truly hope he gets the proper treatment he needs before any harm comes to himself or anyone else.”

The situation is troubling, and the fact that Carter has repeatedly aired out the drama via Twitter only makes it more of a spectacle for people to gawk at. If a court finds that Carter did indeed make those threats, he should be punished, and despite his resistance to doing so, he should surrender all of his guns and never touch another one for the rest of his life.

Mental illness can motivate people to carry out heinous actions, so by no means should Carter get special treatment because of it. But not being the center of mockery for one's mental illness shouldn’t be considered “special treatment” — it should be the norm.

But since it’s not, we had to cancel a Deep State meeting and climb down from the ivory tower penthouse just to level with you.
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Garrett Gravley was born and grew up in Dallas. He mostly writes about music, but veers into arts and culture, local news and politics. He is a graduate of the University of North Texas and has written for the Dallas Observer since October 2018.