The spotlight on the #MeToo movement looks like it will be quite dim at the upcoming Grammys, where just a few musicians have pledged to support Time’s Up by wearing white roses on Sunday. But one highlight of the ceremony will no doubt be Kesha’s performance of her song “Praying.”
The New York Times reports that the artist, who accused producer Dr. Luke of sexual assault in a 2014 lawsuit, will perform the song with Cyndi Lauper, Camila Cabello, Julia Michaels, and Andra Day. But while Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich tells the newspaper that the “last four or five months will put a different spin on the way people will view” Kesha’s rendition of “Praying,” it will not specifically address #MeToo.
“Praying” is a beautifully unsubtle song about Kesha’s experiences with Dr. Luke and the performance will probably be a moving highlight of the night, even if it doesn’t explicitly address #MeToo. But it’s disappointing how little effort the Grammys and its attendees are putting into addressing sexual assault and harassment in the music industry at large.
For the past few years Kesha has become an industry icon and example of how abusive producer-musician relationships can be, but the problem is much more pervasive than than just one person. It’s easier to saddle Kesha with the full burden of the music industry’s problem with assault and harassment, than actually addressing how it permeates the careers of countless other young women. It’s easier for the Grammys to perform concern by featuring Kesha as its statement, rather than making any kind of real effort when the cameras aren’t broadcasting to millions of people.
It has been completely disheartening to watch the massive sea change in the entertainment industry, as actresses and actors come together to work with Time’s Up, but then learn that only a handful of musicians say they’ll be voicing the same concerns at the Grammys. The New York Times reports that “more than two dozen top-tier female artists, from first-time Grammy nominees to decorated veterans” declined to comment on how the #MeToo movement would affect the awards show, and that doesn’t even address how few men want to speak about it.
“This is a decision that I need to know a little more about,” Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow told Page Six about whether or not he was wearing a white rose. “From what I heard about it, I think it’s a wonderful expression that we as a society need to be working on and dealing with.”
Maybe Sunday night will roll around and every artist will be wearing a white rose and talking openly about harassment in the industry. Maybe red carpet journalists will actually ask artists about their thoughts on the movement and what can be done to change it. But the silence right now, in the days before the Grammys ceremony, is deafening.