Several years ago, I watched a documentary on HBO called “An Apology To Elephants”, naively thinking I’d watch a nature documentary expounding on the wonders of my favorite animal. Which it did. But it also highlighted the many abuses they’ve gone through at the hands of man. It was upsetting, to say the least, but there was one shot in particular that has stuck with me to this day. It was of a man with a club violently beating a baby elephant, all the while the elephant reaching for him with its trunk in a gesture of pleading submission. If a puppy had a trunk, it would have done the same thing.
It was in that moment that I decided to stop eating meat. It’s not like I was eating elephants or anything up until then, but that baby elephant, to me, represented all the suffering of all the animals in the world. From then on, any time I had a craving for a burger or an oyster po boy, I flashed to that baby elephant and that craving was gone. I’d stopped eating meat before for similar reasons, but it didn’t stick for longer than a few months. But it’s been about 4 years now since watching that movie, and I’m still living off of veggie patties and nuts. Not completely vegan yet, still eat eggs and cheese, so it wasn’t a complete change, and there’s always a twinge of guilt when I eat a cheese pizza, but I guess baby elephants only have so much power.
The point of that story is that there have been moments in my life where I have had to re-evaluate my way of thinking and the actions that I take. And that’s been going on for me again for the last several weeks. Earlier this year, I decided I needed to start paying more attention to the news, which is always a bad idea. As a result, I’m much more informed, but also much more sad, annoyed, and angry. And then I read about the Devin Faraci/Alamo Drafthouse/Tim League/Harry Knowles scandal. As with the baby elephant, reading Tim League’s dismissive email to a woman who came forward to report Faraci’s behavior gave me a sick feeling, and as the story unfolded, I realized that I could no longer go to the Alamo Drafthouse because forever on, I would always equate it with a network of molesters and those that protected them.
And shortly after that, the news broke about Harvey Weinstein.
It was quickly apparent that while Weinstein’s behavior was repulsive, it was also an open secret in Hollywood. He had been actively enabled and assisted for years, and as the fallout continues, he’s clearly not the only one preying on men, women and children in “the industry”. And many people knew and know about it and have done nothing.
Maybe I’ve been willfully obtuse all these years. “The casting couch” is certainly a trope I was familiar with. But I don’t think I really believed the things I saw in stuff like “The Player” and “Episodes”. Which is silly, since I was very willing to accept what I saw in movies like “Mississippi Burning” and “Schindler’s List”. I guess I just didn’t want to believe that the people who made the movies and TV shows that provided me countless hours of entertainment and escape could be anything but golden, magical, perfect gods. Or maybe I knew deep down that if I accepted that Hollywood was the cynical cesspool that Hollywood itself represented itself as, that I would have to forgo all those movies and shows I loved so much.
But I can’t ignore the price of entertainment any longer. I can’t ignore the dark side of an “industry” that exploits people the way that it does, or that has built itself up so much that people are willing to be exploited and keep it a secret so that they can get even the smallest taste of fame. I’m no Puritan, and I get that part of the allure of Hollywood is its hedonism, and that hedonism helps make some amazing art. But the Weinstein scandal has very clearly exposed the liberal hypocrisy of a town that espouses noble ideals it chooses to personally ignore.
If you’ve hung on this long, you’re asking yourself, what the hell is the point of all this? Well, first, thanks for hanging in there with me as I talk through this. But the point is, this is a blog that celebrates part of the entertainment industry. I mean it’s not like anybody’s making any money off of this, certainly not me, but I’m still giving my support by highlighting the many songs I know and love. And some of the songs and artists that I’ve written about on here have already caused me some internal moral debates. Like the Scorpions and their “Virgin Killer” album. Or Sting struggling to keep his hands off 15-year-old girls. Or all of “Hot Child In The City”. And these are just the examples that spring immediately to mind. There are more, and I realize after reading through a few of those posts that I was looking the other way myself because if I didn’t, that would mean I’d have to make a moral decision.
Which is where I’m at now. Every song I listen to, every TV show I watch, every time now I wonder who was hurt when it was made. Or who knew about it and didn’t say anything. I get that surely this can’t be true for every piece of entertainment out there, but I think it’s true for more than I’m comfortable with.
So. . .the point of all this is that I’m taking a hiatus from posting on Mixed Tape Masterpiece. Probably not forever, and all the music I’ve recorded off the radio and Spotify and what-have-you will still be here. But there’s going to be “radio silence” on here for awhile (see what I did there?) as I try to figure out how to reconcile my love of my radio music with my abhorrence for the industry that makes it.
All so dramatic, right? Thanks for reading and here’s to better days.