Now, I’m not a fan of Kesha’s music. I’ve heard it and I was not impressed. I’m not her target audience, obviously, so I doubt she would care much about my personal feelings on her music. Other people can like it, that’s fine, it’s just not for me.
Having stated that, the recent news that she’s still going to be forced to work with a producer who allegedly raped and abused her is outrageous. Kesha wanted an injunction that would release her from her contract with ‘Dr Luke’ and Sony, saying that she felt unsafe with him. But the judge said in the ruling, ‘I don’t understand why I have to take the extraordinary measure of granting an injunction’. An injunction might be an ‘extraordinary measure’ in the ‘legal’ sense, and it might ‘legally’ be right thing to do, but morally and humanely it is not. Which is sad.
I understand that there are probably many, many complexities in this case I don’t know about or understand. There are obviously power dynamics at play both inside the studio between Kesha and her producer and outside the studio between Sony and those affiliated with it. What seems to be clear about the whole issue, however, is that everyone (outside of Kesha herself) seems more inclined to follow the money rather than protecting a person needing protecting.
As one commentary has written, ‘Sony should have not just offered Kesha a new producer but offered her a new, better producer and assured her that she was still going to receive the same publicity and promotion throughout her career despite the producer shift. If they can’t do that, then they should let her go.’
This is absolutely correct. Sony may hold the rights to her recording and releasing music, but wouldn’t it be in their monetary interests if she’s actually recording and releasing that music? Couldn’t they have reached some sort of agreement where Sony, even if it’s through Dr Luke’s subsidiary label, releases and promotes her music, but that she never, ever has to deal with the man himself again?
Even if Dr Luke technically has to ‘produce’ the album, surely there are ways where he and Kesha aren’t in the same place at the same time? There have been many musicians over the past decade (at least) that have worked in one studio, then sent the recording to someone else for overdubs or production. I’m fairly sure that’s how the Postal Service worked on at least their first album (hence their name, as they sent their music via post), and I believe that’s how the National recorded one of their latest albums. If not that, Sony could ensure there’s an intermediary in the studio acting as chaperone.
Or they could just let her out of her contract. Perhaps due to it being bought thanks to a gofundme project. Or in part due to the $250,000 Taylor Swift just gave to Kesha for ‘help with the financial needs’ she might be facing.
Even if Kesha is lying (and it’s a big if, though I don’t actually claim to know one way or the other), it’s not like she’s using very good method of coercion to get out of her contract, as one writer pointed out. A link in that article notes that every year rape victims are continually failed by the justice system. But, even if she is, she’s obviously not happy in her current situation. If she’s lying, she’s willing to go to extreme measures to make her unhappiness known. That in itself seems to be a sign that something is wrong. Would she really be making good music that people will want to buy in such a situation? Wouldn’t it still behove Sony to help to remedy that, so that it can actually get the most out of their investment in her?
I’m saddened that the world — and by that I mean the legal aspects of the world, not the massive amounts of outpouring Kesha has received in wake of the news — has sided with an accused rapist and the money he and his company represent. Sure, he’s invested a lot of money in building her career, and of course he denies doing it. No one is denying that he’s invested money in her. Neither is anyone denying that he’s maintaining his innocence. But money shouldn’t trump everything else in the world. Kesha’s not even seeking legal recourse to have him arrested, just asking that she be allowed to work with someone else and be supported in that endeavour. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask, does it?
Yet it somehow seems that just by coming forward with her allegations, Kesha is being ‘slut-shamed’ and made to feel worthless. She’s being told that because there’s no ‘evidence’ of the alleged crime, there’s nothing the judge can do. What sort of evidence of abuse lasts 10 years, anyway? Why would she even keep evidence of such an act, there to remind and torment her every day? With an outcome like this, why would other women want to come forward with their claims?
I can only hope there is some sort of change in the works at Sony or in Kesha’s circle to rectify everything. I can only hope that, in broader terms, this is the beginning of real change towards accusations of rape and abuse. She’s having her life ruined just by coming forward. Doesn’t she, as a person, deserve more than that? Don’t we, as a society, need to give her more? Couldn’t this serve as a teaching moment for the music industry and society?