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

In the middle of August,Thirty seconds to Mars—the rock band Jared Leto has fronted since 1998—returned native an island retreat they"d organized in Croatia for thousands of fans and also proudly post photosthat had actually a distinctly individuals Temple vibe. (Well, if anyone at the individuals Temple had actually been white, anyway.)

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

The band has been using that tagline because that years now, on society media, inmerch and also in music videos.In 2013, Leto called The brand-new York times Magazine that it to be "a joke, a an answer to journalists saying, ‘You have such a cult following."" This is the very first time, though, that the band has actually taken the referral to its many literal conclusion, even though they"ve to be holding "summer camps" because 2015, and taking every chance to financially fleece their audience since the really beginning.

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Thirty secs to Mars fans currently collectively describe themselves as "the Echelon," and also are a team that seems overwhelmingly immersed not in music nerd-dom, but rather a much more general type of love for the ar surrounding the band. The four-year-old video below doesn"t stroked nerves itself through the band"s music. Instead, it an ext closely each other a commercial because that a megachurch.

Like numerous cults, the Echelon espouses an united state vs. Castle mentality via the hashtag #YouWouldntUnderstand, a stop Leto repeats often.That idea has pushed supporters to ever an ext fervent levels of devotion any kind of time the band receives any type of degree that criticism. (Scientology followers have been use a comparable methodology because that decades.)

Leto is acutely conscious of this degree of pan dedication (which is why the tape once hosted a vain in which—appropriateness it is in damned—the prize to be a night sleeping in his bed). In 2013, he said, "If world like Thirty seconds to Mars, they really, really, really choose it... We have actually this cult, this family, this believers." It"s this understanding that has offered the tape a sense of entitlement for this reason ingrained, theyhave been known to particularly request their fansget tattoosin your honor. (Take that,NXIVM!)

Just together cult members often demonstrate their devotion by cram money in ~ their preferred group, the most obvious method Leto fans display their appointment is by providing Thirty secs to Mars way too lot of their cash. The band"supcomingCamp Mars,taking place between Sept. 7–9 in Malibu, charges $999 for 2 nights of the end camping, and also you have actually to bring your own tent and also supplies. (The getaway consists of daytime outdoor tasks like rock-climbing and also archery, plus 2 Thirty secs to Mars concerts, i m sorry the tape calls Church that Mars.)

There space several progressively expensive dorm options, yet the only means to sleep in a room that isn"t common with strangers is by throwing down $6,499 because that a "VIP experience."Day passes execute not sell much better value, with prices at $349 for a show, some snacks and also the please caveat: "This happen does NOT encompass a photograph 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 tape that has actually chargedup come $900 because that meet and also greetsin which they are sometimes removed come the suggest of precise wearing surgical gloves. (To placed that in perspective, One Direction used to fee $658, Rihanna was still only charging $116in 2015 and also Taylor Swift has actually a policy of not charging pan to satisfy her at all.)One that the good ironies of all this is the Leto declared the tape "anti-greed" in 2013.

The band"s obsession v money is not invisible to their faithful following, yet observing fans pointing out the price of loving Thirty secs to Mars online can be rattling. Over there is a feeling that while several of them feeling ripped off, they are additionally fearful of fully expressing your disillusionment. In a prolonged article around the tightening of restrictions during signing sessions v the band, one blogger wrote: "The 10 seconds it took for them to sign PLUS the couple of minutes they’d stop in order to collection the present you lugged them... Seems quick for the lot of money... Yet it to be usually rather fun." an additional wrote: "I paid 250$ just to have beforehand entry . Over priced, however, it was the best show ever."

In addition to the obvious financial benefits, wrapped up in every one of this cult organization is Jared Leto"s untethered self-absorption. In 2013, Leto went to the problem of purchase the rights to goofy modeling photos native his My So-Called Life days and also then gaining them scrubbed from the web by threatening legal action.

Music journalistRaziq Rauftold historicsweetsballroom.com: "After Leto sent cease and also desist letters to few of his fans, I made decision the photos. I duly received an extremely threatening legitimate notices of my own, so ceased and desisted. If it to be amusing, Leto is a really wealthy and an effective man with really wealthy and an effective people in his team. He"s the one percent and also I couldn"t complete with that."

It to be a moment that demonstrated just how much Leto"s narcissism stretches beyond the limit of typical celebrity.

A criticism commonly leveled in ~ Thirty seconds to Mars at an early stage in the band"s job was the they an ext closely resembled actors playing rock star dress-up than an actual, real-life band.Despite recurring criticism indigenous music journalists that the band"s sound is "hollow and also emotionally one-note" (last year, Spin defined Leto"s lyrics together "meaningless indigenous salad"), pretending to it is in a rock star because that long enough did eventually an outcome in Leto becoming just that.

So could Leto"s persistent assertion that he"s the leader that a cult median that as well is finally coming to be a reality? If one considers the band"s entire history, Thirty secs to Mars developing a cult doesn"t simply seem favor a reasonable possibility—it feels virtually like an inevitability.

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