As the state of Texas reaches record highs in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Vanilla Ice was prepared to surge ahead with a Fourth of July weekend concert in Austin. Now, after significant public backlash and a venue capacity dispute, the rapper has pulled out of the show altogether. The Texas Tribune reported that only 84 of a possible 450 tickets had been sold as of Wednesday night.
On Thursday afternoon, he posted a video to Instagram surrounded by palm trees. “Basically, I’m not going,” he says with a laugh. “I listened to my fans. I hear all you people out there — I didn’t know the numbers were so crazy in Austin.” Ice, seemingly confronted with the pandemic’s effects for the first time, explains that they booked the show a long while back. “Hopefully by new year’s this corona crap will have a cure,” he says.
The blowback started on Wednesday, as numerous outlets and social media users drew attention to the show and Ice’s posts anticipating it. In an Instagram post from earlier this week, the “Ice Ice Baby” rapper effectively tried to “only ‘90s kids would know” his way through the deadly pandemic, longing for a time when “we didn’t have coronavirus, or cell phones.” He said: “I can’t wait to get back to this. The 90s were the best,” before running through a list of the decades cultural hallmarks like Beavis and Butthead, Wayne’s World, and Mortal Kombat.
After facing significant backlash on social media for hosting the concert, Ice defended the show on Twitter Thursday morning. “I take the coronavirus serious. But we can’t live in a bubble,” he wrote. “I think at this point we all understand the severity of it...practice social distancing and wear a mask.” Around the same time, he added a captionless Instagram post, featuring presumably old footage of Ice singing “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” in front of a huge crowd.
He’s correct in the assumption that responsible outdoor gatherings, much like the conditions in which most Black Lives Matter protests were held — outdoors, masked, spaced out whenever possible — have been proven to not cause a sizable spike in new COVID-19 cases. That said, the largely maskless country concerts from over the weekend suggest that people will ultimately just do whatever they want in the face of venue guidelines.
Countless business owners have already drawn the false equivalency between fighting for racial injustice outdoors and the right to enjoy a cold one to “Cool as Ice” as hospitalizations continue to rise in their state. It was always going to be a subjective question of which activities are deemed essential to gather, but the case counts have reached a dire enough place in several states to call them all off wholesale. We’re just going to optimism and personal responsibility our way through the crisis, case and death counts be damned.