Everything That You’ve Come to Expect
March 8, 2016 10:34 AM   Subscribe

Up close and a little too personal with The Last Shadow Puppets. As I walk away, I try to suppress my ballooning sense that something wasn’t right back there. Is it normal to be asked up to a male musician’s room — even as a joke? Or cheek-kissed, repeatedly high-fived, and stared down? Even if he’s entirely harmless (and I’m sure that he is), is this the sort of thing that I should let go for the sake of my job? After music journalist Rachel Brodsky interviewed the U.K. orch-rock duo, she came away with a very different article than she'd set out to write.
posted by showbiz_liz (28 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Skeevy men in skeevy band behave badly, News at 11.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:43 AM on March 8, 2016

Compare this to Jessica Hopper writing about how women are treated in music in any capacity--performer, journalist, etc--and it's all the same old song. We're told to be game, that it's no big deal, he was just kidding, boys will be boys.

I'm sick of it.
posted by Kitteh at 10:44 AM on March 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

Skeevy men with a disappointing association with my heart's own darling Owen Pallett, though. It's never just skeevy men alone; that wouldn't be as depressing.
posted by Frowner at 10:45 AM on March 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

I give up, how do I make the bud ad not take over the screen? I can't use ad blockers, so does anyone have a print link or something where the content is visible for those of us on old ipads or kindles?
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 10:47 AM on March 8, 2016

Skeevy men in skeevy band behave badly, News at 11.

You know, the fact that this CAN BE news, as in, the fact that pieces like this can now be published in a place like Spin, is actually kind of a big change.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:47 AM on March 8, 2016 [36 favorites]

Dismissing it as "oh those guys are just skeevy," gives them (and others) a pass to keep on doing it. These dudes are professionals, as is the author. It would be unacceptable for people in my office to invite each other up to their rooms in the course of a work meeting (or any other context, really), and it should be unacceptable here.

The closing is great. It's good slimy dude apologized, but that apology is not required to be accepted. Do better in the future, dude. I hope you have learned a lesson that will stay with you, and will help you recognize and call out behavior in others in the future.

Something I did not expect was for Kane to find out that I’d felt uncomfortable with his meant-to-be-funny advances. But he did, and a few days later sent me the following:

Dear Rachel

I really enjoyed chatting to you about the new record. I am just very sorry that silly remarks I made during our interview have caused offence. I recognise my ‘Carry On’ humour during the interview was ill judged and I am mortified that it made you feel uncomfortable. Please accept my sincere apologies.


I appreciate Kane’s note, but it doesn’t make me feel better. It certainly didn’t erase that afternoon or the other times I’ve felt objectified on the job. Notes like it don’t change the events that preceded them. Instead of apologies, I’d like to see a little more foresight and a lot more professionalism toward women in the music industry.

posted by Existential Dread at 10:49 AM on March 8, 2016 [22 favorites]

[One comment deleted. If you think the post subject isn't interesting, please just pass it by.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:52 AM on March 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

Ugh that is such a drag; I've really enjoyed most of their projects, together and solo. It's not like Scott-Walker-loving orch-rockers are a dime a dozen. But nope, won't be able to enjoy them at quite the same level going forward, I'd guess...
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:03 AM on March 8, 2016

Dear lord, I just got done writing an epic comment about...this...in another thread.

“Do you want to go upstairs?” Kane asks.

“No,” I respond, laughing nervously.

The boys’ publicist snaps to attention: “I did warn you when you arrived that they were on kind of a downward spiral.”

“I’m joking, I’m joking!” Kane says, chuckling.

posted by Lyn Never at 11:04 AM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

On the plus, it's nice to see certain scenes pushing back on this type of shitty behavior. At one of my own band's gigs in San Francisco a couple years back, a frontman from a pretty prominant group made some shitty comments backstage to one of our friends, who performed on stage with us for a couple songs. She was visibly upset, and we had a brief minute or two to decide how to respond...this guy is a good contact to have in order to get shows in the future, do we risk that professional connection and call out the behavior? We called him out on it, never played with him again, but we had the luxury of other connections and not needing his scene support.

Luckily, there's a number of good groups in the Bay Area, like Curious Quail, who work hard on creating an atmosphere of inclusion and call out sexist bullshit when they see it. May there be more like them.
posted by Existential Dread at 11:05 AM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

I’d like to see a little more foresight and a lot more professionalism toward women in the music industry.

Every industry.
posted by Phredward at 11:18 AM on March 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

I do not see nor hear why this is called orch-rock.
I was expecting classical instrumentation. This is more like glam-pop.
posted by MisplaceDisgrace at 11:35 AM on March 8, 2016

my heart's own darling Owen Pallett, though

He's gay though, so while we have our own misogyny issues to address, probably outright hitting on a female journalist isn't one of them.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:39 AM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Related article about misogyny in music that just popped up on my Facebook feed--touching on many artists and examples we've discussed previously on MeFi.
posted by misskaz at 11:50 AM on March 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

On first read, I took the "Do you want to come upstairs?" line as a reference to a Monty Python sketch. I think that is reinforced by the Carry On reference in his apology. Even if that was the case, though, it was ill-judged.

Partial transcript of the "Travel Agent" sketch:

Tourist: Good morning.

Secretary: Oh good morning, ummm, do you want to come upstairs?

Tourist: I beg your pardon?

Secretary: Do you want to come upstairs? Oh! Or have you come to arrange a holiday?

Tourist: Er.......to arrange a holiday.

Secretary: Oh sorry.

Tourist: What's all this about coming upstairs?

Secretary: Oh, nothing, nothing. Now where were you thinking of going?

Tourist: India.

Secretary: Ah one of our adventure holidays.

posted by Kafkaesque at 11:57 AM on March 8, 2016

A similarly horrible occurrence popped up in my Facebook feed earlier this week. This shit is everywhere in the music industry, and it's a massive problem.

This is not a review
This week, Rosie Solomon was sexually assaulted while watching one of her favourite bands. Here, she describes her experience and how she took action.

Before we start, I want to warn you all that this is not a concert review. I write for Redbrick Music, yes, and when I realised no one else would be reviewing the Baroness concert I had tickets for on the 29th February, I jumped at the chance to write about my favourite band, who I was seeing live for the third time. I never thought I’d end the night in a police station. But then again, no one ever expects sexual assault.
Baroness' response.
posted by Existential Dread at 12:33 PM on March 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

One thing I've learned recently about power imbalance centers around the distinction between intentions and consequences. Typically, the person in a place of privilege apologizes by talking about their intentions: "I didn't mean it" "You misunderstood me", etc.

What that person needs to do instead is to acknowledge the consequences of their actions. In a certain way, it doesn't matter that you didn't intend to hurt me. The fact is that you *did* and your apology needs to recognize *that.*

I think the note from Kane is a nice step, but it's problematic because he's signaling his lack of intention to cause harm. "...the silly remarks...", "...My carry on humor..." are all about conveying that the whole thing is rooted in some silly misunderstanding.
posted by jasper411 at 12:35 PM on March 8, 2016 [7 favorites]

That's a great piece, and I'd like to highlight this paragraph, which places what happened on that occasion in the appropriate (universal) context:
This is not about the Last Shadow Puppets. This is about the ongoing culture of imbalance, be it writers catering to famous musicians, women catering to men, or women catering to society’s conciliatory expectations. In previous years, I would repeatedly let men disregard my personal comfort because I was afraid of not being “nice.” For the bulk of my teens and 20s, it had never even occurred to me that there was another way to be. Because of how I thought I should handle conflict — which is to say, too delicately or not at all — I let ex-boyfriends contact me for months, I put up with strangers on the subway interrupting my reading for unwanted chats, and I’ve let men approach me at festivals, then proceed to follow me around for another hour when I didn’t want them to. But after spending a few years in the industry and a lot of money sitting on the therapist’s couch, I’ve managed to break down a lot of those conflict-averse barriers and recognize how I was — and how a lot of other women were — socialized to let my own feelings slide.
Thanks for the post, and I hope there are many, many more articles like this, drawing back the curtain on what goes on constantly so that men are forced to acknowledge it.
posted by languagehat at 12:45 PM on March 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

Here's my personal test for if something is cool or not.

I'll admit being a straight middle aged man, this kinda thing seems slightly overwrought, until you frame it happening to your daughter. If the response is, "eh, whatever", then it's likely not sexist, if your response is the opposite however, it is not cool.

I'd be pretty fucking irritated if my daughter had to endure this crap at work.
posted by Keith Talent at 1:05 PM on March 8, 2016

God, reading story after story about this bullshit makes me want to run around and hit a lot of guys in the head with an oar.

I mean, I know there are laws against pummeling assholes with oars, and they're good laws. I support those laws. And truthfully, braining dipshits with oars has historically proven ineffective at correcting poor behavior. And it's hard on the rotator cuff to swing oars into dudes' heads day after day.

But still.

If only a good oar-pummeling were legal and effective, ya know?
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 1:06 PM on March 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

I appreciate your general feeling, Keith, but it'd be really wonderful if you could stretch yourself past imagining how you would feel if this was your daughter to listen to what women are telling you and why, when these things happen, our response is not overwrought or melodramatic. Our experiences are just as real as yours, and you shouldn't need to feel paternalistic protection towards women to empathize with and be angered by our experiences.
posted by ChuraChura at 1:12 PM on March 8, 2016 [37 favorites]

That's a wonderful and enlightened way to approach things in theory, but people are animals, not gods or perfect theoretical constructs, and we relate to people not in purely theoretically appropriate or helpful ways, but in the ways that are possible for us to. One of those ways is through extending our empathy by finding common points of identification. Why shame people for being limited and human if they're trying in good faith?
posted by saulgoodman at 1:18 PM on March 8, 2016

[Several comments deleted. Let's not take a big sidebar onto Keith Talent's particular comment? The objection to it is noted, it doesn't have to become a whole back-and-forth with escalating rhetoric about him being attacked or having terrible views. Plenty to discuss in the actual article.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:27 PM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

He's gay though, so while we have our own misogyny issues to address, probably outright hitting on a female journalist isn't one of them.

Strangely enough, one of the reasons I like Owen Pallett's music is precisely that he writes about being gay/queer/etc! What with being queer myself, etc.

It's that when you have gross friends, it reflects poorly on you. This is particularly true about artists when something you like about the artist is their politics. Honestly, it's a pretty common thing, though - men who are actually okay themselves still having skeevy friends, working with skeevy dudes on artistic projects, etc. That's why it's so depressing - it's not just some gross, skeevy apples; it's this whole network of men who are not necessarily terrible individuals but who provide cover and a social network for terrible individuals and who don't see gross skeeviness as serious enough to break off the friendship or collaboration.

Gay men with gross straight male friends don't get a pass from me, any more than I should get a pass for having friends with gross attitudes.
posted by Frowner at 1:32 PM on March 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

Although hopefully Owen Pallett just didn't know, because he is the darling of my heart.
posted by Frowner at 1:32 PM on March 8, 2016

Oh yes, not disagreeing with you there
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:38 PM on March 8, 2016

I give up, how do I make the bud ad not take over the screen? I can't use ad blockers, so does anyone have a print link or something where the content is visible for those of us on old ipads or kindles?

Try searching for the headline on Google, then selecting the little arrow next to the URL. It takes you to a cached version that may work better. Or try this link which it gave me when detecting that I run an adblocker.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:01 PM on March 8, 2016

Given the subject of the article, I'm surprised it begins with an account of Brodsky making flattering remarks about the musicians' appearance, assuring them that they are styled to the nines and that she's not just buttering them up when she says they look that good.

If that were something one of them had said to her, it could be included in the list of unprofessional exchanges she's documenting in the piece. And while there is a whole history as well as contemporary factors that explain why what women say to men doesn't have the same affect as men saying the same thing to women, it's a little odd that the article starts with a suggestion that a little light flirting between journalist and subject is no big deal.
posted by layceepee at 8:11 AM on March 9, 2016

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