Saturday, February 03, 2018

#MeToo Finally Meets The Music Business


I've been wondering why the fast and loose music business hasn't been sucked into the #MeToo movement. There's a whole horror show of abuse, from musicians inviting fans backstage to executives preying on artists and abusing staffers. Yesterday when I was reading about a right-wing state Rep. in Arizona being expelled from the legislature for serially harassing women, a music business newsletter showed up about something a little closer to home. First the Arizona Republican.

There was a vote and it wasn't close. First the Speaker removed his handgun and rifle and then the House voted 56-3 to immediately expel Don Shooter (R-Yuma) for "dishonorable" behavior after the conclusion of an investigation. He was escorted off the Capitol premises by by security while legislators were still voting and condemning his behavior. He told the Arizona Republic "I've been thrown out of better places than this." Cute.
The investigation that led to the vote found “credible evidence” that he behaved inappropriately toward seven women and had created a hostile work environment in the House.

A report on the inquiry graphically details lewd language and actions from Shooter, once a powerful Republican committee chairman, who has openly behaved in a crass manner, but did so unchecked by his peers for years.

Moments before voting began, female lawmakers from both parties gathered in a circle around Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, the first woman who publicly accused Shooter of harassment.
So, like I said, just when I was reading that, a friend sent me a copy of the new Lefsetz Letter, a publication that muckrakes brutally about the music business. This one was about a pretty notorious music industry executive, Charlie Walk. I never met him in person, as far as I know, but I had been hearing about him for years, none of it good.

I remember the day you called and asked me to work for you. I was in shock. I couldn't believe a music mogul like yourself wanted ME to come work for YOU. And not only did you want me to work for you, you wanted me to start my very own department. You said it would revolutionize the way the record industry worked. You said I would change the game. You said I had raw talent. You said I was bright, savvy and necessary. You said a lot of things that I wanted to hear. You made me feel like a Unicorn. And you promised me a lot of things. And you were true on your word. You took me as a young trend forecaster and gave me the opportunity of a lifetime. The opportunity to help shape the industry that I loved, which was crumbling at the feet of digital downloads. You introduced me to other music moguls like Donnie Ienner and Lyor Cohen and my ultimate (now fallen) hero, Russell Simmons. You gave me a fancy office, an assistant and a budget. You took me backstage to shows and got me private meet ‘n greets with the likes of Prince. You gave me opportunities beyond my wildest imagination.

But you also made me feel sick to my stomach almost everyday. For a year I shuddered at the idea of being called into your office, where you would stealthily close the door and make lewd comments about my body and share your fantasies of having sex with me. I was 27. No previous experience had taught me what to do in such a situation. So I laughed it off, gently reminded you that you were married with children, and tried to change the subject. But you were relentless. You would instant message me throughout the day making sexual remarks. Truly vulgar words and ideas. Pervasively. You invited me to dinners that in hindsight I had no business being at, but you did it so that you could put your hand on my thigh under the table, every time inching it closer and closer to my sacred place. You did it so you could lean over and whisper disgusting things into my ear and I had to smile so that no one suspected anything. On multiple occasions your wife was sitting right across from us. And then there was that event at your swank pad when you actually cornered me and pushed me into your bedroom and onto your bed. The bed you shared with your wife… your wife who was in the room next door. You being drunk and me being 6 inches taller was my saving grace.

You promised me the world in my career. You told me I would be one of the top 30 music executives under 30. It's what I wanted. Cloaked in power, you knew how to get me right where you wanted me. Under your control. Playing your sick games.

After a year of working in fear, I finally called deep on my courage and shared my story with your counterpart. He wasn’t surprised. He told me that there was nothing I could do about it, but that he would help me coordinate a graceful exit if I wanted. I was paid to keep my mouth shut and my reputation intact. I’m ashamed of that piece but it’s a truthful part of my story. I took that dirty money and moved to LA.

I remember the girl that took that job. I remember how confident and vocal she was. How grateful. I remember how motivated and determined she was to crush it, to be a visionary in the industry. But the girl who walked away a year later had shrunk. She no longer looked up when she walked. She became quiet. Her spirit was barely recognizable. She felt confused. She felt diminished. She felt wholeheartedly worthless. She lived in a corrosive pit of shame.

To you, Charlie Walk what you did was normal. It was a power you perceived to have earned, with a right to exercise it. But to me it was insulting, confusing and objectifying. And it was a secret that I held for a very long time, my experiences only spilling out in flashbacks and nightmares. And my silence paid off. I was able to flourish in the industry, but the more that I did, the more that I saw there were so many Charlie Walks. I walked away from the world of entertainment 8 years ago and never looked back. Now I’m running a women’s sanctuary devoted to self-love, growth and empowerment. I find myself in a vortex of strength, courage and most of all morality. It’s where I belong so in some ways, perhaps I needed to endure you, to get here, so I’m deciding to be grateful for your part in my journey.

The truth is Charlie Walk there will always be scumbags like you. I know this because you're raising sons who will follow in your own footsteps. But here’s the thing, I'm raising a son too. And I'm raising him to respect himself so that he can respect others, including women. I’m raising him to stand up to a-holes like you in honor of women. I’m raising him to know that healthy relationships don’t involve power. I’m raising him to be what you weren’t raised to be, a decent human being.

I don't wish ill for you, Charlie Walk. Only the possibility of personal awakening, accountability and transformation so that you can use your power for good. I forgive you, Charlie Walk. I hope you can forgive yourself.

Free hearted~
A couple days later Peter Asher noted that the music business has been curiously quiet when it comes to #metoo and I wonder why, is it because it’s essentially an independent contractor business, one wherein everybody’s too afraid of damaging future relationships to speak up? ... for a notoriously freewheeling business it’s been strangely noiseless.
Could it be that so much of the music is based on sex?

Could the classic rock records of yore, even the MTV rock records of yore, be released today?

So now what happens?

Does Charlie Walk get bounced from television singing show The Four?

One would think definitely, right?

Why is it men who make money feel invincible? Especially those who were shunned growing up. They leave morality behind and believe they’re entitled to their heart’s desire.

I’d be scared to be a woman. It’s like running a gauntlet every day.

Furthermore, where were these men brought up, and how?

And never forget that it’s the team/bro behavior, begun in sports and spread through fraternities and board rooms. There’s groupthink, you take one for the team, you stand up for the status quo and those in power. Irrelevant of sexual harassment this is a huge problem in our economy.

We need to teach people to stand up for what’s right.

And we need to ensure they’re not penalized for their behavior.
Walk was suspended as president of Republic Records and told to not show up for the taping of the finale of The Four where he's a judge.

And on Thursday, Billboard carried a piece about Walk hiring power attorney Patty Glaser to defend him. She also defended Harvey Weinstein.

Labels: , , ,


At 5:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Why is it men who make money feel invincible?"

Why is this a question? Those with money buy the loyalty of thugs to ensure that those who enforce the law are afraid that they will become Exhibit A that Might Makes Right. Money is Power, because having enough of it puts you above the Law (which as Dickens noted, "is a ass") and out of reach of retribution.

Need proof? How many crimes did J Edgar "Mary" Hoover commit during his tenure as Director of the FBI to ensure that no one ever could take him down? How many of his files still haunt the living, cowering in fear that someone will discover them and apply them? How many times was Hoover censured or condemned - much less prosecuted for his crimes?

Now put someone like him at the service of some lowlife with a great deal of money. Let's pick on Steve Wynn as our example since he's been in the news recently for his excesses. Had he been proactive, Wynn could have cultivated FBI and other police assets and gone after those now charging him with unsavory behaviors. We'd never have heard a thing, except maybe for someone who didn't understand the "friendly" message being delivered to shut up and sit down ending up being put down.

Money IS Justice, which is a cleverly disguised respelling of the phrase "ju$t u$" and is only available to those who can afford the initiation fee into the club. The rest of us can either shut up and "fuggeddaboudit" or enjoy discovering what Eternity really looks like.


Post a Comment

<< Home