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Does Aerosmith Worship Constitute Cultish Behavior?
A Review of AeroCultism and Cultural Consequences

Story Filed: Saturday, July 1, 2001 7:15 PM EST

LONG BEACH (Pope Diva I) -- Beginning in the 1970s, increasing numbers of individuals began to observe and report striking and frightening changes in their loved ones. Formerly serious, high-achieving, well-adjusted citizens would suddenly throw all other concerns and responsibilities by the wayside to devote themselves completely to the rock band Aerosmith and their music. Considered a temporary aberration by music critics and social scientists, Aerosmith worship was not immediately identified as a cult.

In many cases, individuals also worried about their loved ones' physical well-being because of the groups' dietary, health, work, or sexual practices. Although conservatives obtained some literature denouncing Aerosmith's lifestyle and music, others had nowhere to turn and usually worried alone for long periods of time. Gradually, they began to find and help each other.

Occasionally, these individuals would find a mental health professional or clergyman who sincerely listened to their concerns. Individuals would usually voice such observations as: "That's not my friend"; "He talks like a fanatic, as though he were programmed"; "He spends all his money on Aerosmith concerts and Aero-phernalia".

"She was fine, but now she seems like a different person"; "She used to like easy listening, but now all she listens to is Aerosmith, and at ear-splitting volume"; "She used to think clean-cut guys were attractive, but now she won't date anyone who doesn't look like [insert Aerosmith band member name]"; "Her closet is full of nothing but red silk shirts, black leather, drapey harlequin jumpsuits, scarves, cigars, and sex toys."

Soon, these concerned individuals and professionals realized that they were observing a process akin to what was popularly known as brainwashing. But they didn't know what to do. Their friends wouldn't listen, or couldn't hear them over the blaring music. They sometimes succeeded in persuading their friends to listen to other bands, and the term "deprogramming" was used to describe the process of countering Aerosmith's unshakable hold over the lives and minds of their fans. These attempts at deprogramming never succeeded for long, however, as Aerosmith continued to release new material and to tour in support of it.

Seeing no other options, some individuals began to bring AeroFanatics to secure places, and to detain them there until they had listened to Lawrence Welk music played for hours on end. Frequently, these encounters lasted three days or more. The process appeared to be working. Hundreds of AeroFanatics renounced the band, promising to destroy their albums, and to never attend another show, or watch another video. In time, it became apparent that the cunning AeroCult members were only telling the deprogrammers what they wanted to hear, and were returning to their fanatical Aerosmith worship on-the-sly, just as quickly as they were released by their captors.

Many individuals, those who actually succeeded in having their loved ones deprogrammed, reported that their now-Aero-free friends seemed lifeless. AeroFanatics in recovery reported bitterly that they felt as though they were in a psychological prison.

Because deprogramming had come to be associated with coercion and confinement and because it rarely worked, it caused quite a controversy. AeroCultists railed against it, in large part because they hated Lawrence Welk music. Others denounced it on legal and ethical grounds. Others in the deprogramming movement defected and became devotees of the AeroCult, themselves. These defectors came to believe that Aerosmith were, in fact, gods -- just as the AeroCult members had always claimed.

Charges and countercharges were leveled between the deprogrammers and defectors from their ranks. Lawsuits arose from their battles. Judges and juries -- once Aerosmith's albums, concert footage, and videos were entered into evidence -- inevitably found for the defectors, and became AeroFanatics themselves.

AeroMania swept the globe, and institutions responsible for providing social services began to break down, as those in charge of these institutions abandoned their duties to follow their deities whenever they toured.

Aerosmith's critics, always the first to insist that devotion to Aerosmith must be cultish behavior run amok, eventually began to feel that they were in jeopardy if they continued to speak out. These critics also had to contend with the fact that their efforts to force AeroWorship underground had succeeded only in making the AeroCult members more numerous, more stubborn, and more devoted.

In time, it became apparent to Aerosmith critics and social scientists alike, that this was a cult that could not be broken. In an effort to reassure AeroCult members that they were no longer in danger of being deprived of their deities, the wider society made gestures of reconciliation and good faith.

Grammies, MTV music awards, Oscar nominations, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and -- most recently -- induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, were among the olive branches extended to the AeroCult by the uninitiated, and were all designed to bring the decades-old battle to a peaceful end.

AeroCult members, always happy and approachable when Aerosmith is touring, now seem philosophical about how they fit in in the wider society.

Tammy, a devoted AeroCult member since childhood, is willing to forgive and forget the ugly past; and even happily accepts that not everyone understands or approves of her belief system.

"Look," she said, "Everybody doesn't have to worship Aerosmith. We never said they did. In fact," she went on to say, "the less people who do, the more for me."

Tammy, who was interviewed as she sat in her Long Beach, California home amongst her beloved Aerosmith Collection, switched CD's in her player and hit play on the VCR, obviously already growing tired of our short interview.

"More for me... I can DEFINITELY live with that."