It’s not exactly news at this point that the rapper known as Tyga is, as a rather self-explanatory headline in The Daily Beast put it yesterday, “a Creepy Predator Who Is Attracted to Underage Girls.”
As the Daily Beast’s Marlow Stern points out, the rapper famously started dating Kylie Jenner when she was 17 — officially “jailbait” in the state of California, where she lives — and defended the, er, romance in a song featuring one of the creepiest couplets in the history of lyrics:
They say she young, I should’ve waited
She a big girl, dog, when she stimulated.
This star-crossed romance got even skeezier last month, with tabloids reporting that while Tyga was dating Jenner he was also creeping on an even-more-underage girl online — a 14-year-old “Instagram model.”
In a press conference on Monday, with attorney Gloria Allred by her side, the girl in question — identifying herself as Molly O’Malia.– told her side of the story, saying that Tyga had approached her online, sending her messages on Instagram and trying to convince her to meet in person.
If her story is true, Stern notes, it
shows that Tyga is a predator with considerable means and influence who targets underage girls, just as he did with a teenage Kylie Jenner. And the public—and tabloid media—shouldn’t laugh off this despicable behavior any longer. It’s this lack of seriousness and accountability that’s allowed a demon like R. Kelly to continue to flourish, despite the countless young girls he’s left violated and forgotten.
Unfortunately, as the mention of the henious R. Kelly reminds us, Tyga is hardly the first predatory pop star. And in most cases, the media has been content to trivialize the issue or simply look the other way.
Sure, rocker Jerry Lee Lewis famously faced a backlash after journalists discovered that he had married a 13-year-old girl who also happened to be his first cousin once removed.
But Elvis Presley somehow managed to avoid this sort of scandal even while he was actively pursuing Priscilla Beaulieu, whom he met when she was only 14. The two eventually married in 1967 after what Biography.com euphemistically describes as a “nearly eight-year courtship.” According to assorted biographers, Elvis was positively obsessed with girls in their early teens. The official story, for what it’s worth, is that the singer didn’t actually have sex with any of them, preferring pillow fights and girly gossip.
Elvis wasn’t the first or the last pop star obsessed with underage girls; most had a lot more than pillow fights in mind. In a spoken-word section of the 1977 Kiss song “Christine Sixteen,” Gene Simmons declares
I don’t usually say things like this to girls your age, but when I saw you comin’ out of school that day, that day I knew, I knew I got to have ya. I got to have ya!
But it hasn’t been just rock ‘n’ roll sleazebags like Simmons who have advertised their interest in underage girls. The Knack’s “My Sharona” was about a real-life 17-year-old who was dating one of the band members; the group returned to the topic of underage girls in another song,“That’s What The Little Girls Do,” which laments how these “little girls” allegedly torment older men, breaking both their egos and their hearts. Oh, and the album that followed the massive hit Get The Knack was titled “But the Little Girls Understand.”
The list goes on and on. There’s Foreigner’s “Seventeen.” There’s “Young Girl,” by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap. There’s Donovan’s “Mellow Yellow,” a surrealistic ode to yellow vibrators — and 14-year-old girls.
And then there’s Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page. He didn’t write musical love letters to 14-year-olds. No, he just sent roadies to bring them to him, no questions asked. Or at least he did on one infamous occasion in 1972. As Cracked describes the incident, Page was so taken by 14-year-old groupie Lori Maddox, whom he’d spotted in a nightclub, that he
sent roadie Richard Cole to Maddox’s table with the message, “Jimmy told me that he’s going to have you whether you like it or not.” The roadie then grabbed her and chucked her in the back of a limo, saying, “You fucking move and I’ll fucking have your head.”
Page apparently did his best to keep the three-year “romance” that followed out of the press — and Maddox herself largely confined to his hotel room.
But the story has been out for decades now, and no one seems to give a shit about it. Page is still treated as a rock god, his creepy years-long exploitation of the extremely underaged Maddox seen as little more than a colorful example of seventies rock excess.
Some might say that it’s unfair to put Tyga’s skeezy but failed online seduction of a high school junior in the same category as, say, Page’s exploitation of Maddox. He didn’t kidnap her; they never even met in person.
Indeed, two other Daily Beast writers, Lizzie Crocker and Tim Teeman, sniff that
[i]n the annals of Allred cases defending pretty girls as victims of lurid celebrity scandals, this particular scandal was hardly a scandal at all before Allred entered the fray. …
it was not clear what made O’Malia … a victim in this case, until she had been transformed into one by Allred.
But that’s not really the point. It’s a good thing that Tyga’s pursuit of a 14-year-old is a scandal (and it definitely was one, albeit a somewhat smaller one, even before Allred got involved).
Pop stars’ exploitation of their young female fans used to be such a “normal” and expected thing in the music business that some of the rock ‘n’ roll predators not only wrote songs about it, but wrote songs in which they — shades of Humbert Humbert — made themselves out to be the victims.
Today, Tyga is getting called out on Twitter and in the tabloids for his predatory behavior. That’s a good thing.
I only hope that Jimmy Page and R. Kelly and all those other musicians who have happily exploited underage fans will eventually be held to the same standard.