why Max Colombie’s images also attract criticism

why Max Colombie’s images also attract criticism
why Max Colombie’s images also attract criticism

Max Colombie’s testimony about his drink and drug addiction has not gone undiscussed. The Oscar and the Wolf frontman is praised for encouraging others to tell their stories, but according to experts, his approach was not entirely flawless. “People can miss the sad side of the story.”

Paul NotelteirsFebruary 2, 20246:30 PM

In recent years, Max Colombie has played in front of tens of thousands of people in international arenas and has been showered with prizes, but in his head the wolves were howling. To escape his insecurities, he increasingly took refuge in alcohol and drugs. “It was very bad, it was five to twelve,” he admitted on Thursday evening in a conversation with VTM news anchor Freek Braeckman. At one point he took medication to wake up, drank to feel better and snorted cocaine to sober up. Falling asleep was only possible with a truckload of medication.

Thanks to professional guidance, the addiction has now been behind him for about two years, but he does not want to hide the experience. His testimony should break the stigma of substance abuse and encourage fans to talk about issues themselves. “I will not be able to break the taboo as a person alone, but I do want to be a good example,” he said.

It takes courage to reveal your substance abuse on a live news broadcast. That is why drug line coordinator Tom Evenepoel finds it impressive that someone with as many fans as Colombie shows a raw side of himself. “There is still such a big taboo that you run the risk of being given a permanent label,” he says. Testimonials from famous people are important because they give a language and face to an underexposed theme. For example, when Stromae joined the French television news TF1 two years ago to talk about his suicidal thoughts and sang ‘L’enfer’, it also caused quite a stir.

The recognition can make people realize that they themselves are struggling with a problem and after such a sensational testimony, helplines often receive many more calls. “If the theme is alive in the public debate, people also seek more contact,” says Evenepoel. The effect sometimes takes a while to appear. Only a few weeks after actor Matthew Perry died of a ketamine overdose, the helplines received many questions about it.

Rock ‘n’ roll feeling

Colombie’s candor in the news broadcast may be commendable, but the man is also criticized. Over the past ten days he posted several images on Instagram in which he was clearly under the influence. The context was completely unclear and hundreds of fans expressed their concerns. He disappeared from the scene for a while in 2022 because he was struggling with mental problems, many feared that he had relapsed. Journalists who called his management to ask what was going on were told there was no communication. Only on Thursday did he admit that the images were from several years ago.

The question then is whether it would not be better to immediately serve clear wine and thus avoid that his often young fans had to guess for themselves what the meaning of his posts was.

The videos can also send another unintended signal. “We prefer not to show images of drug use that can evoke a rock ‘n’ roll feeling in people,” says director of the Flemish expertise center for alcohol and other drugs (VAD) Katleen Peleman. Especially with a young audience, it is important not to suggest that hip parties go hand in hand with substance use. “People can miss the sad side of the story. You have to take into account that people see something different than the message you want to convey.”

The reason why Colombie’s management originally did not want to respond to questions is because his story also includes a new single. During the broadcast of VTM News artwork for ‘Angel Face’ was already shown, a few hours later the song appeared on all streaming services. Even those who don’t soak in a bath of acid full-time can suggest that the singer of Oscar and the Wolf created a somewhat unfortunate hype and then very easily profited from all the media attention. After all, the testimony could also work without immediately being linked to a commercial side, although Colombie immediately hedged against that criticism.

“I still stand by my point that it is so important to talk about it. I did that in a shocking way, but I think that unrest is also necessary to start that conversation,” he said during the interview. Music was also a way to express his feelings and writing helped him to cope with the turbulent period in his life.

The way in which the images were distributed may leave a somewhat strange aftertaste, but both Peleman and Evenepoel agree that Colombie moved a stone in the river. Cocaine in particular remains a drug that is not often openly discussed. “Many people still see it as a successful drug that allows you to function perfectly. If someone warns that it can quickly get a hold of you, this contributes to discussion and risk perception,” says Peleman.

Colombie himself has now drawn a line under his drug use. He assumes that he will not relapse.

For all questions about alcohol, drugs, pills or gambling, you can contact De Druglijn anonymously. Call 078 15 10 20 or chat and email via www.druglijn.be.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Max Colombies images attract criticism


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