Ke$ha v. “Dr. Luke” (Updated)

Sometimes, CNN provides a window into the approved narrative, and the approved narrative with respect to the whole Kesha-Dr. Luke thing involves terms like “complex” and “intricate” instead of rape and abuse.

When they call it “in-depth”, you know you’re in for a heavy dose of propaganda.

Why is the Kesha-Dr. Luke narrative so different from, say, the Bill Cosby narrative?  They both seem to fit comfortably into the “casting couch” category, allegation wise.

We have a passing acquaintance with the “entertainment law” establishment.  It exists in New York and Los Angeles in this country, and nowhere else.  Talent – musical, acting, whatever – is controlled, managed and produced through this establishment.  They get a piece of whatever sells and entertains the masses.  The bigger the sales, the tighter the grip, precisely for the reason that a talent who dares to defy or even marginalize the role of the establishment in his or her “career” is a mortal threat to the whole enterprise, especially if the talent is high profile and successful.

Because the establishment, by itself, has no talent and nobody likes them.  All they have is their grip, so it must be jealously guarded.

The judge understands:

“You’re asking the court to decimate a contract that was heavily negotiated and typical for the industry,” New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich told Kesha’s attorney Mark Geragos after hearing arguments that Dr. Luke had invested $60 million in the singer’s career, according to a brief from the Hollywood Reporter. “My instinct is to do the commercially reasonable thing.”

“I don’t understand why I have to take the extraordinary measure of granting an injunction,” the judge said, citing the lack of hospital records and other medical evidence related to Kesha’s assault allegations.

It’s good if you have hospital records and medical evidence of a sexual assault, but often you don’t.  That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, of course, but the judge has to go by proof, and to that extent we can sympathize with the judge’s position.

On the other hand, we can’t agree that “the commercially reasonable thing” can trump Kesha’s allegations.  The rest of the judge’s comment implies that the judge’s real concern was protecting industry practice.  Industry practice includes the casting couch, apparently, and so this whole thing becomes “complex” and “intricate”.

There’s a lot to say here, potentially.  But not now.

 Update:  In addition to the Cosby situation, throw this into the mix:



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2 responses to “Ke$ha v. “Dr. Luke” (Updated)

  1. Kent

    This is a tricky case, and without any proof whatsoever, it is hard to be a fly on the wall and not ponder if Ke$ha is making up the allegations in order to get out of the contract. It’s all about the money, whether you take the side of the plaintiff or defendant. Nevertheless, it would make dangerous precedent if she were able to get over on allegations alone. Remember, without these entertainment lawyers and entertainment managers, most of these entertainers would be singing in local joints for a few hundred dollars with no signed contract whatsoever. Indeed, there are a few musical acts right here in Rochester that are better than many acts we hear on the radio, but they didn’t have the fortune of being discovered (as they are not as marketable for one reason or another).


    • Kesha’s word is proof. It may not be very good proof, but it’s proof.

      I appreciate the value of the entertainment lawyers and managers, to a degree. It’s a little like the literary agent game. There are so many people peddling a novel some screening process must exist.

      But then you wind up with some people having the gate-keeping power, and it’s a power that is readily abused. Here’s how the CNN article introduces us to Dr. Luke:

      Lukasz Gottwald is not actually a doctor, but he is a ridiculously successful and well-known music producer who has produced huge hits for the likes of Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson and Pink.

      He’s “ridiculously successful” and “has produced huge hits”. When was the last time you read someone being described as ridiculously successful?

      The interesting question remains: why is this being treated so differently in the media than the Bill Cosby case? Is it because Dr. Luke still has the golden touch whereas Cosby’s money generating days are behind him, so the “industry” protects the former while abandoning the latter?

      A corollary and equally interesting question: what is “complex” or “intricate” about any of this? If Kesha’s allegations are true it is abominable to hold her to the terms of a contract grounded in the exploitation she describes. If they are not true it is a straightforward abuse of the legal process for which she should be punished. The only way it becomes complex and intricate is by ignoring the fundamental question and trying to steer between competing interests: the interests of stars in not being exploited and abused versus the interest of the “industry” in not having its business practices, which include the casting couch, thrown into disarray.

      You make an interesting point, too. Does talent drive success, or the marketing of the industry? Can a lesser talent achieve greater success because of the latter? I was always struck by the dizzying success of Madonna: basically a very mediocre singer-songwriter with a penchant for disturbing exhibitionism. She’s a great example of someone who was made a star more by the industry than by her talent.

      It’s a subset of the question I often ask around here: is there a reality we all have to submit to, or can we make reality the way we want it through our own efforts? The media, indeed that very CNN article, blurs the line between the two by hyping the role of Dr. Luke compared to the talent he has supposedly promoted.

      This story is significant on a number of levels.


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