Jared Leto, Cult Leader?

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According to a recent Instagram post, Jared Leto is totally running a cult. Wait, what?!

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Depending on your age, you might think of Jared Leto as the teen heartthrob from My So-Called Life, an Oscar-winning actor, or as the lead singer from the band 30 Seconds to Mars. That last group of fans–who call themselves The Echelon–has some people wondering if Jared Leto is now essentially a cult leader!

30 Seconds to Mars (abbreviated TSTM) recently held a 3-day music festival called Mars Island in Croatia. The ticket prices ranged from $995 to $6,499 and concluded with a crowd shot on the beach with all the festival-goers dressed in white. The caption read, “Yes, this is a cult.”

Okay, then!

Is It Really a Cult?

Jared has been dressing the part of a messiah in recent years, with his long, flowing locks, robes, and strangely ageless face. Finding out that he’s running a cult–or at least joking about it on the ‘Gram–is the least surprising news I’ve read all year.

Another shot from the festival showed a crowd of people sitting cross-legged on the floor while Jared spoke to them. It looks pretty sinister–especially given the recent resurgence in interest about the Manson Family–but the truth might be something less scary.

The official description of the Mars Island festival insists that it’s part retreat, part music experience: “Relax and restore with yoga amongst the trees, take a dip in the pool, catch a midnight screening or gaze at the stars, and catch two intimate performances with Thirty Seconds To Mars. Mars Island is an experience like no other.”

He’s Not the Only One

Weirdly enough, Leto isn’t the only 90s star who has started a cult. Andrew Keegan–who had supporting roles in 10 Things I Hate About You and Clueless–started a “spiritual organization” called Full Circle.

In 2015, Keegan leased a church in Venice Beach, California, to spread his message of light and love–and to sell illegal kombucha. Unfortunately for Keegan and his followers, the kombucha operation was shut down and the church struggled to pay the rent. It closed down in 2017–though it’s not clear if the religion itself has continued.

Other music groups have amassed a cult-like following. Fans of Insane Clown Posse, called Juggalos, consider themselves family–but the FBI considers them a gang. Beyonce’s BeyHive and Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters are also passionate to the point of being a little scary, especially when it comes to defending their queens on social media. Maybe the Echelon and TSTM is just a really dedicated fandom… or maybe Jared Leto really is a cult leader now.