The often shocking – if not, always surprising – allegations of sexual harassment that continue to sweep the news have not even left Westminster MPs without reproach, but it is the entertainment business that provides the backdrop for the most high-profile revelations.
Since The New York Times made public a series of very serious claims against film mogul Harvey Weinstein in October, the floodgates remain open as a cascade of unsavoury allegations of sexual misconduct engulfs Hollywood. Kevin Spacey, John Lasseter, Dustin Hoffman, Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck, Stan Lee, James Franco (again). The list goes on and it will continue to grow.
The film industry may be in the throes of an ugly and necessary flushing process, with each passing day bringing news of more celebrities caught in a web of predatory behaviour. Only time will tell which venerable figures 2018 will bring crashing down from the false, invincible pedestal success has fabricated for them.
But as one branch of entertainment hangs its head in shame, others fall silent. And no silence is more deafening than that coming from those who make noise for a living. Bar a few relatively low-profile cases, recent sexual harassment allegations against figures within the music business have been relatively scarce.
It is over four years since Ian Watkins was sentenced to 29 years in prison and branded ‘potentially the most dangerous sex offender’ his judge had ever come across. The former Lostprophets vocalist’s paedophilic crimes were sickening; the case was so horrifying that it transcended industry lines and appeared to be the actions of a warped individual rather than indicative of underlying tendencies within music.
In October 2017, Watkins was accused of grooming a young mother from inside prison. While the Weinstein storm grew into a hurricane, it was difficult to recall similar charges brought against any major music stars in the intermediary between Watkins’. Gene Simmons of Kiss, who denied groping a female interviewer in December, became one of the first such cases in recent memory.
This scarcity is clearly a fortunate one, but it does not mean certain truths will one day, sooner or later, come out. It also does not mean that music has an entirely clean slate, with a number of artists holding not-quite-celebrity status accused of wrongdoing of late. Fans of emo-rockers Brand New will be well aware of vocalist Jesse Lacey’s soliciting of sexual images from underage fans in the 2000s, which came out late last year.
Indeed, a swathe of members of bands belonging to the ‘Kerrang’ genres have fallen from grace recently: Moose Blood, We Came As Romans, With Confidence and PWR BTTM are among those involved. Alt-rockers Don Broco announced in late November that an alleged case against singer Rob Damiani had been ‘publicly retracted’.
Perhaps these instances have come to light due to a younger demographic than other genres. Most of the above victims were fans, often disarmed or misled by their idols.
And just as these cases are not necessarily representative of creators of alternative music, the chances of this epidemic not extending beyond a handful of closely related genres are slim to none. Is it a question of if, or a question of when allegations will surface against a pop-megastar, or a super-producer of emerging young talent? A Weinstein-like situation is immediately imaginable in the case of the latter.
This consideration is not intended as grimly pessimistic. The as-yet small number of high-profile cases is encouraging, and one hopes that Hollywood’s shame is limited to the minority already outed.
It does aim to prevent complete shock when a serious allegation is made against someone who holds the trust, adoration, attraction, charisma and captivation of millions, however.
Brig supports the #MeToo campaign