Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How Kesha's Court Case Has Been More Than Eye-Opening

It has been one hell of a week for Kesha.

Last Friday, a judge denied her petition to be released from her contract with Sony that entailed her to continue working with record producer Dr. Luke, whom she says drugged and raped her as well as emotionally and physically abusing her. This should be nothing new, this has been going on since 2014, and as a result from Kesha's refusal to work with Dr. Luke she has not released any new music since her 2013 hit with Pitbull, "Timber". The judge denied Kesha's petition stating that her claims were false and she was using the allegations for "contractual leverage" against Sony and Dr. Luke. Sony has offered to let Kesha work with another producer, but the singer fears the label won't promote her work if she doesn't make more music with her abuser.

It's utterly disgusting that a judge would blatantly disregard someone's testimony that they were abused. It doesn't matter if you're famous. Do you really think someone would lie about being drugged and raped for "contractual leverage", whatever the hell that implies? I surely don't. Lots of celebrities have stumped to new lows in Hollywood, but the photos released of Kesha sobbing when the judge announced the verdict last week (seen above) shows that she's certainly not lying. Those photos don't show the face of someone who made up claims of rape for attention, or "contractual leverage".

This appalling turn of events has pretty much brought out the best and worst in everyone. HBO star and writer/producer Lena Dunham wrote a beautiful essay for this Tuesday's edition of her email newsletter, Lenny Letter, in which she brings up the subject that Kesha's plight is basically domestic abuse. She writes: "A huge part of Kesha’s argument rests on her lawyer’s assertion that Gottwald [Dr. Luke], potentially enraged by Kesha’s sexual-assault allegations, could make efforts to bury her subsequent albums, preventing her from publicizing and therefore profiting from her work. This kind of control is a cornerstone of domestic abuse, and it’s far too common: according to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, financial abuse is an aspect of approximately 98 percent of abusive relationships. When a woman is not in control of her financial destiny, either because her partner is the primary breadwinner or because he makes financial decisions for the entire family, her world is made minuscule. Her resources evaporate. Fear dominates." Dunham also writes that 19 states in the United States still allow rapists to assert parental rights over children conceived through rape, which is the source of the problem surrounding Kesha and Dr. Luke. It's awful, and needs to be changed, It's quite eye-opening, maybe even more than eye-opening, that a judge would tell someone that they're lying about having been abused, and force them to continue working with their abuser. Just like if a child is conceived through rape, the rapist could take hold of his parental rights and continue to torture both of them. There is no difference in Kesha's situation. It makes one get a stomach ache.

Countless music stars have also publicly proclaimed their support for Kesha, including those who have worked with Dr. Luke before, such as Kelly Clarkson and Taylor Swift. Ms. Swift, in fact, gave $250,000 to Kesha to compensate for her mounting legal bills and to cover any other financial difficulties, as she hasn't exactly been working because of this mess. Swift's donation received much media coverage and reportedly received thanks from Kesha's mother, but of course Ms. Swift was now being transported into Kesha's headlines. If this was done intentionally by her reps, we'll probably never know, but I think the act of kindness would've been a lot kinder if she had done it without the press release. As a result, Demi Lovato sent out a hasty tweet in response to Swift's donation, which landed her in severely deep water, with people saying Lovato was "shading" Swift (which, I'll admit, she was) but god forbid someone speak out about Swift's donation, which, I'm sorry, deserved to be side-eyed. Lovato just had to be the one to say something, and she's already the whipping girl of the social media world, so that didn't exactly help her.

I'm sure Swift wanted to donate that money to Kesha out of the kindness of her heart. I'm sure that's true. But at the same time, everyone knows Taylor Swift has a strong and somewhat mean fanbase. People were even tweeting her before she donated the money asking her why she hadn't done anything yet. So when someone like Taylor Swift gives $250,000 to someone in need, you know she's going to be boosted into headlines. Taylor Swift is an angel, Taylor Swift gave money to Kesha despite putting her own career on the line, having worked with Dr. Luke before. I saw an article this morning on Buzzfeed titled "We Need to Stop Talking About Taylor Swift", and we do need to stop talking about her. We do. This is about Kesha, not about Taylor Swift. I'm sure her donation was heartfelt and is much appreciated by Kesha herself. But this is about Kesha's battle, not Taylor Swift being an angel. Leave her out of this. It's a shame someone with a lower profile couldn't have donated money to Kesha, because then we wouldn't have had to endure the countless news articles praising Taylor Swift. Yeah, she's great, but this isn't. About. Her.

Dr. Luke has denied all of Kesha's allegations, stating that she was a very good friend for many years and was even like a sister to him. There's no telling how this will turn out for Kesha, but she's already lost valuable years of her career to a man who abused her in a society whose law will force her to continue working with him. Many, many hugs are sent out to her in hopes that this will somehow turn out well for her.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Book Reviews: 'We'll Never Be Apart' by Emiko Jean and 'The Promise of Stardust' by Priscille Sibley

1. We'll Never Be Apart, by Emiko Jean: I really, really enjoyed this book. It was very cheesy, but I couldn't help loving it. One review I read by a particularly tough critic on Goodreads said that there was little to no character development and the entire plot relied on a twist that many readers have seen before. Well, let me tell you, the twist in question? I'd never seen that before. When I told one of my friends about this twist, she sighed and said, "Predictable." But I didn't think it was predictable at all! Granted, this was the first psychological thriller I've read that can also be classified as YA, so maybe I just got lucky in that I'd never seen a twist like that before. The ending reminded me of E. Lockhart's We Were Liars, which I also loved. Going back to the character development dig: I think the book does have a lot of interesting character development. The main character, Alice, is deeply flawed and we learn why she's like this over the course of the relatively short novel (279 pages), so I completely disagree with that critic's opinion. I also really enjoyed how Alice's journal was incorporated into the plot for backstory. It might've been a bit better if the journal was in first person and the rest of the narration was in third person, but I'm choosing to overlook that. Very entertaining. 4/5 stars. 

2. The Promise of Stardust, by Priscille Sibley: This book. THIS DAMN BOOK. My god. Where do I even start? Usually, when you see a review opening like that, it means the person liked the book, but let's get one thing straight. I did not like The Promise of Stardust. It is hands down one of the single most inconsistent novels I've ever read. I bought this book three years ago at Target when I was on vacation in Florida and I completely forgot it ever existed until I found it at the bottom of a pile of books in my bedroom a couple months ago, so I decided to finally give it a shot. The book opens with Dr. Matt Beaulieu, a neurologist who gets word that his wife, Elle, has fallen and suffered a bad head injury. As a result, she becomes braindead, and just as everyone is making peace with the fact that they will have to let her go, they find out Elle is pregnant. She's had numerous miscarriages, and because Matt knows how much Elle wanted a child, he wants to keep Elle alive on life support so the baby can have a chance. Matt's mother Linney, a nurse, as well as Elle's younger brother Christopher, strongly oppose keeping Elle alive because her mother, Alice, was kept alive while gravely ill for an extended period of time and they know Elle didn't want to die that way. They're already in court before the book has reached 100 pages. Not only that, the only backstory we have up until over 100 pages in is details the characters have said. Thereafter, some chapters shift to up to twenty years in the past, but it's basically just Matt continuing to recount the past to the reader, which I found really uncreative. Matt isn't a good narrator or a very good character, either. He fights dirty to keep Elle alive because he knows how much she wanted a baby. Never once do we hear how much Matt wanted to be a father. It was completely one-sided. It's also evident that this is Sibley's first novel. In my opinion, she tries way too hard to make her writing style comparable to that of Jodi Picoult. The premise is an interesting concept, but the writing style completely destroys any potential it had. I expected this book to be a cheesy romance, and boy oh boy, it definitely is, but it's written so amateurishly that it was almost hard to overlook it. I had trouble finishing the book. The legal mumbo jumbo is boring, the romance is unbearably cliché, and the characters are not all that interesting. 2/5 stars.