Jared Leto performs through Thirty seconds to Mars in ~ the LA Forum, December 2018. (Kevin Winter/Getty images for KROQ/Entercom)

In the middle of August,Thirty seconds to Mars—the rock tape Jared Leto has fronted due to the fact that 1998—returned indigenous an island retreat they"d organized in Croatia for thousands of fans and proudly posted photosthat had a distinctly peoples Temple vibe. (Well, if everyone at the individuals Temple had been white, anyway.)

The photos showed Leto act his best Jesus impersonation in flow white robes, addressing fans who sat dotingly at his feet, and being followed around by hoards that young women. The tape captioned the photos "Yes, this is a cult."

The band has been making use of that tagline because that years now, on society media, inmerch and in music videos.In 2013, Leto told The new York time Magazine that it was "a joke, a response to journalists saying, ‘You have actually such a cult following."" This is the an initial time, though, the the band has taken the referral to its most literal conclusion, also though they"ve been holding "summer camps" because 2015, and taking every possibility to financially fleece their audience since the really beginning.

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Thirty secs to Mars fans already collectively refer to themselves together "the Echelon," and also are a group that seems overwhelmingly immersed no in music nerd-dom, however rather a an ext general type of love because that the community surrounding the band. The four-year-old video clip below doesn"t stroked nerves itself with the band"s music. Instead, it an ext closely each other a commercial for a megachurch.

Like numerous cults, the Echelon espouses an us vs. Them mentality via the hashtag #YouWouldntUnderstand, a stop Leto repeats often. The idea has actually pushed supporters to ever much more fervent degrees of devotion any type of time the tape receives any degree the criticism. (Scientology followers have been employing a comparable methodology because that decades.)

Leto is acutely aware of this degree of pan dedication (which is why the band once organized a compete in which—appropriateness be damned—the prize to be a night sleeping in his bed). In 2013, the said, "If world like Thirty secs to Mars, they really, really, really prefer it... We have this cult, this family, these believers." It"s this understanding that has given the tape a feeling of entitlement for this reason ingrained, theyhave been recognized to specifically request their fansget tattoosin their honor. (Take that,NXIVM!)

Just together cult members often show their devotion by throw money at their liked group, the many obvious method Leto fans show their meeting is by offering Thirty seconds to Mars method too much of their cash. The band"supcomingCamp Mars, acquisition place between Sept. 7–9 in Malibu, fees $999 for 2 nights of outdoor camping, and you have to bring your very own tent and supplies. (The getaway consists of daytime outdoor tasks like rock-climbing and also archery, plus two Thirty seconds to Mars concerts, i beg your pardon the tape calls Church that Mars.)

There space several significantly expensive dorm options, however the only method to sleep in a an are that isn"t common with strangers is by throwing down $6,499 because that a "VIP experience."Day passes do not sell much much better value, with prices at $349 for a show, part snacks and the you re welcome caveat: "This pass does NOT include a picture with the band."

Hardcore Thirty seconds to Mars pan have become accustomed to paying hundreds or hundreds of dollars because that crumbs. This is a band that has actually chargedup come $900 because that meet and greetsin which they are occasionally removed to the point of precise wearing surgical gloves. (To put that in perspective, One Direction supplied to fee $658, Rihanna to be still only charging $116in 2015 and also Taylor Swift has a plan of not charging fans to accomplish her in ~ all.)One that the great ironies of all this is that Leto asserted the tape "anti-greed" in 2013.

The band"s obsession v money is no invisible to their faithful following, yet observing fans mentioning the cost of loving Thirty seconds to Mars online can be rattling. Over there is a feeling that while few of them feel ripped off, they are likewise fearful of fully expressing your disillusionment. In a lengthy article about the tightening the restrictions during signing sessions with the band, one blogger wrote: "The 10 seconds it took because that them to sign PLUS the few minutes they’d protect against in bespeak to collect the existing you carried them... Seems brief for the quantity of money... However it to be usually quite fun." another wrote: "I payment 250$ just to have early on entry . End priced, however, it to be the ideal show ever."

In addition to the obvious financial benefits, wrapped increase in every one of this cult service is Jared Leto"s non-constrained conditions self-absorption. In 2013, Leto checked out the trouble of purchase the legal rights to goofy modeling photos from his My So-Called Life days and then getting them scrubbed native the internet by threatening legal action.

Music journalistRaziq Rauftold mmsanotherstage2019.com: "After Leto sent cease and desist letter to several of his fans, I chose the photos. Ns duly received really threatening legal notices of my own, so ceased and desisted. While it to be amusing, Leto is a really wealthy and an effective man with very wealthy and an effective people in his team. He"s the one percent and also I couldn"t compete with that."

It was a minute that demonstrated how much Leto"s narcissism stretches past the limit of normal celebrity.

A criticism generally leveled at Thirty seconds to Mars early in the band"s job was that they more closely resembled actors play rock star dress-up 보다 an actual, real-life band.Despite recurring criticism native music journalists that the band"s sound is "hollow and also emotionally one-note" (last year, Spin described Leto"s lyrics together "meaningless word salad"), pretending to it is in a absent star for long sufficient did eventually result in Leto ending up being just that.

So might Leto"s persistent assertion the he"s the leader the a cult mean that as well is finally coming to be a reality? If one considers the band"s whole history, Thirty seconds to Mars forming a cult doesn"t just seem choose a reasonable possibility—it feels almost like an inevitability.

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