Call Them Out. Change The Norm Letter From The Editor Regarding Sexual Misconduct In The Music Industry
LOS ANGELES, CA- Earlier this year, Forbes Magazine published an article titled “When Will The Music Industry Have Its #MeToo Moment?” In it, they discussed several high profile claims involving rape allegations against Russell Simmons, Neil Portnow, the former CEO of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and R. Kelly. While these high profile news stories certainly bring some attention the matter, as news consumers, we’re all just “oohing” at the headlines and getting our entertainment fix watching its related programming, glossing over, and even ignoring the fact, that sexual misconduct in the music industry runs rampant even if the subjects aren’t “high-profile”. That needs to change.
I can’t live without music. I work in the music industry, so I mean that both literally and figuratively. As much as music brings me great joy with its inherent beauty, I fully acknowledge the fact that it’s often used as a tool to take advantage of people. The business side notwithstanding, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen, or had a first-hand account, of both musicians and music-consumers, engaging in sexual misconduct. From unwanted “grinding” by popped-collar, polo-wearing bros in the crowd to the unsolicited fondling of a young lady wanting to enjoy the experience of crowd surfing… I’ve seen it… I know you’ve seen it. It’s time we do a better job at calling it all out and holding offenders criminally accountable.
I’ve seen musicians in positions of “power” use their notoriety in unacceptable ways as well. But this isn’t about what I’ve seen.
On July 15th, 2020, Clementine Creevy of Cherry Glazzer, shared her unbelievably personal story about the abuse she endured with a former bandmate, Sean Redman. Inspired by the story of another victim, Clementine details her own experience, revealing that she had been the victim of statutory rape.
Because Redman was a legal adult and knew how old Clem was at the time of the act, his act was felony statutory rape which, FYI, in the state of California, has a 3-year statute of limitations.
After Clementine’s brave act, the flood gates opened.
Five days after Clementine’s account, The Regrettes’ Lydia Night told her own, frighteningly similar story about SWMRS’ Joey Armstrong.
Lydia was triggered by a Twitter post that SWMRS posted on July 19th, a post which positioned the band, and by inference its members, as woke feminists. Lydia detailed the ways in which Joey used his position to groom her and try to convince her to have intercourse prior to her 18th birthday.
Just wanted to note that SWMRS was also a Burger Records artist.
Arrow de Wilde of Starcrawler piled onto the Burger Records bitch-slap with her own story, which comes from something that she experienced earlier this year. While on tour with The Growlers, Arrow recounts how The Growlers locked her in a dressing room and had a male stripper rub his bare genitals on her all while they videotaped her.
Arrow concluded her post by saying, “I know my experience isn’t the same as some of the survivors who’ve come forward recently, but the humiliation and lack of respect they’ve shown so many women seem like a patter. It’s a pattern that that [stet] needs to stop.”
It certainly does.
Burger Records and its ilk aren’t an outlier. It’s a sure bet you are supporting and endorsing an act or a label that is steeped in a toxic culture of bad behavior. The fact that Redman, The Growlers, and Armstrong were called out and the fact that Burger Records was canceled, brings some satisfaction, but on a larger scale, how can we change this toxic culture in music generally? How do we stop the unwanted gropes in the crowd? How do we stop bad actors from ruining the music that we love so much? Is it really still, “Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll”. I think not. We’ve got to come up with a new euphemism, a new mantra, that reflects the current state that music is in today.
While Lydia emphasized that her “goal here isn’t to ‘cancel’ anyone but to further the conversation on the intricacies of [power abuse, grooming, and manipulation that not only exists in the music industry but in so many other industries,” I think it’s also important to call out those bad actors. See something, do something. We’ve all got video cameras on our phones. Video can be used as evidence. If you notice someone doing something untoward, call them out and put the attention on them and their bad acts. I know that I won’t hesitate to pull a dude, no matter how big they are, if they are clearly invading the personal space of another at a show.
More importantly, we need to champion those who have been victims. When a victim is ready to tell their story, listen to their narrative, and help them heal. Referring them to a legitimate resource is a small act, but it is an act nonetheless.
In the meantime… since live shows won’t be happening for a minute… on behalf of myself and Blurred Culture, I’d like to do my small part now to do what I can.
I’d like to sell prints of the photographs featured in this post, with 33% of the net proceeds to be donated to RAINN.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE, online.rainn.org y rainn.org/es) in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.
Each print goes for $100 and is a 13×19 print on Canon Semi-Gloss paper, limited to a run of 20, signed and number by me. Delivery is free. If you are Los Angeles based, I will personally deliver the print to you (following social distancing guidelines). If you are outside of Los Angeles, I will package the print in a cardboard poster tube and send it via U.S. Mail.
If you’d rather donate directly to RAINN, please click on THIS LINK.