Ke$ha’s Case and The Failings of the Entertainment Industry

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Usually known merely for her infectious pop vocals and preoccupation with glitter, the singer-songwriter Ke$ha has of late been engaged in far more a serious narrative.  For over a year, the singer has been in a legal battle to nullify her contract with musician and producer Dr. Luke.  Over the past ten years her producer has drugged, raped, and emotionally abused the artist.    

After many years of such abuse, ultimately resulting in Ke$ha’s placement in rehab, she came forward in an attempt to escape the restrictions of her contract.  Having been contracted to Dr. Luke’s “Kemosabe,” a division of Sony Entertainment, she is currently barred by the company, which is run by her abuser, that also controls her writing, recording, and distribution.  

 

The artist is quoted saying, “I know I cannot work with Dr. Luke.  I physically cannot.  I don’t feel safe in any way.”

 

Ke$ha’s attempt to free herself from this contract was denied this past month.  Her contract will force Kesha to finish six more albums for Dr. Luke’s label.  And while the company and judge articulate Ke$ha’s ability to avoid working directly with her past producer, the emotional and physical safety of the artist is still an area of major concern.  Stuck in her contract, Ke$ha must contend with restrictions in both her monetary and creative freedom.  

 

Ke$ha has received support from various industry executives, artists, and fans.  But this case runs much deeper than any individual support that can be given.  It is more notable even than her inability to create music away from the man who abused her.  

 

This case is representative of the systemic gender inequality and male dominance in the music industry and the way women in entertainment continue to be intimidated and coerced by the brands and labels that represent them.  Like has been the case in mainstream American entertainment since its beginnings, its companies, and the legal system that enforce their regulation, has again failed to protect an artist from the individual identified as the abuser.   While the music industry provides us with some of the most influential art and entertainment, its flaws cannot go unnoticed.  Ke$ha’s case gives us a look behind the scenes of the darker side of the entertainment industry.  And while we can appreciate the music, the structural inequality in the industry, that is detrimental to the many who share their art with us, is worthy of our attention and disapproval if we are to truly support artists and the music they create.  

 

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