Very recently, I caught drift of some terrible news about one of my favorite artists-a rowdy, wild, spirited girl with questionable morals and even more questionable taste in clothing and men, who we all know and love for her upbeat pop music. Of course, I’m talking about none other than Kesha Rose Sebert, formerly known as Ke$ha.
Last Friday, Kesha’s trial with Dr. Luke erupted into pop culture news sites everywhere and trended among social media users around the globe, eventually leading to the proliferation of the hashtag #FreeKesha across the Twittersphere on the day of her trial. If you've tuned out of social media for lent or simply choose to remain uninformed about what's going on in Hollywood, here's a short recap.
Broadly speaking, Kesha is rightfully trying to sever ties with Kemosabe Records. More specifically, Kesha is seeking to detach herself from its founder, Dr. Luke, who’s been credited with producing her most popular singles, "Tik Tock" and "We R Who We R." Kesha has accused the founder/producer of sexually, emotionally, physically, and verbally abusing her, which eventually led to a 2014 lawsuit. During the hearing, which took place on February 19 of this year, the judge ruled that Kesha was still legally bound to her contract, stating that she must produce six more albums under Dr. Luke's record label. Crazy, right?
Immediately after the judge's ruling made its way to the ears (and screens) of the public, uproar ensued from supportive fans and musicians on various social media platforms.
And just like that, Kesha fans (who the popstar refers to as “animals”) across the world were ready to stand together and fight against the judge’s ruling.
Don’t get me wrong, I'm all for using Twitter to advocate for the good of the people. But something in particular about this case may have caught your eye if you considered yourself up-to-date with what's happening in Hollywood. According to a number of online sources, Kesha has been facing this legal battle since October 2014. So why is it that so many of us had no idea that any of this was happening until two years later? It’s possible that Kesha has been trying to keep things under wraps for the sake of her own privacy. Perhaps we brushed over the topic in pop culture news so lightly that we’re having trouble remembering the accusation and lawsuit. Or maybe this scandal has been right in front of our faces for the last two years but wasn’t brought into the Twittersphere light until the case was nearing its end. Or (and most disturbing) did we even care that this was happening to America’s favorite glitter girl?
I’d imagine that we millennials make up a pretty hefty chunk of Kesha’s fan base. I'd also be willing to bet that we millennials can say with confidence that we “grew up” with Kesha. To us, Kesha has always acted as a kind of spirit animal, if you will. We’ve idolized Kesha in the same way our parents idolized Madonna (okay, maybe she wasn’t that revolutionary, but still). Until very recently, most of us only viewed Kesha as a party-girl icon who produced the catchy, fun songs we all blared through our first cars’ speakers when we got our intermediate driver’s licenses. This makes her legal troubles unfathomably difficult to grasp fully. For years, we’ve clumped Ke$ha, the musician, and Kesha, the individual, into a single element. We’ve assumed that she really is the drunken glitter princess that’s portrayed through her music and videos, or that she does indeed spend all her time at bars and house parties, hitting on ghastly biker dudes and taking “living on the edge” to another level.
What’s so significant about Kesha’s case (besides its obvious injustice) is how quickly it completely reformed her image by separating the popstar from her weirdly wild persona. It’s sad and it’s terrifying, but, essentially, Kesha’s trauma acted as a sort of wake-up call for her fan base and served as an invitation to the reality being masked behind smudged eyeliner, ripped clothing, and bottle service. We tend to think that people like Kesha are invincible, because looking at them from a distance, they are. Fortunately, as soon as the digital collective recognized Kesha as a victim, she instantly received the love, support, and attention she was entitled to from fans and the like.
So, what does this mean for Kesha’s future, as both a musician and a human being? The artist has yet to speak publicly about her plans specifically, but according to this PassionWeiss article Kesha claimed, “I know I cannot work with Dr. Luke. I physically cannot. I don’t feel safe in any way.” While her music career may be up in the air as of now, Kesha fans are remaining as hopeful and dedicated as ever.
The Galleon is curated and managed by Christian Brothers University, a Memphis-based university founded in the Lasallian tradition (a sect within the Catholic faith). Part of our founding mission is to uphold respect for all persons-regardless of political, religious, or social beliefs. As an institution, we take no stand on political matters; to do so would undermine our commitment to intellectual inquiry and thoughtful response to events taking place in our World by members of the CBU community.