#FreeKesha: Explaining the social media phenomenon


Tim Keuchler // The Chief

Fans rally behind singer-songwriter Kesha.

Tim Keuchler, Managing Editor

“We’re gonna shake the tree until that leaf that has Kesha on it falls right off,” Lady Gaga stated in a radio interview on March 7 with Carson Daly.

If you’re a mainstream Top 40 regular listener, you’ve probably realized by now that pop music is missing one of its most captivating, recognizable stars, and has been for almost four years now—Kesha.

Long periods of absence in the music business can be detrimental to one’s career. Kesha has remained “out of sight, out of mind” since 2013, when she was featured on Pitbull’s number one hit single “Timber. ” Her long hiatus has fans worried that she may not be as successful as she once was and that the general public has forgotten about her—a scary thought for any musician.

However, this seemingly random break  wasn’t intentional. What artist in their prime would give up years of their youth, something so vital in staying relevant in music today, for no reason? Many people suspected that there was more to the story than just Kesha’s disappearance from the public eye, but in recent weeks the reason has finally become clear.

Back in October 2014, Kesha, sued longtime producer Lukasz Gottwald, who is mostly known by his stage name, Dr. Luke, for multiple charges including gender violence and sexual assault. Gottwald was the man who discovered Kesha and signed her to his record label Kemosabe Records, Kesha claimed that Gottwald drugged her with the powerful tranquilizer Rophynol (“roofies”) when she was 18,  raped her while she was unconscious, and later filed a preliminary injunction against him.

On February 19, however, things did not work out in Kesha’s favor, causing a social media eruption. Her long delayed court battle with Dr. Luke finally came to an end, when she was denied the right to record with other producers. Despite the ongoing protests outside the courthouse, New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich claimed Kesha’s contract was highly negotiated and that there wasn’t enough evidence to support her rape claims.

Many disagree with the Judge’s decision. “The propensity of society to rush to disbelief when someone openly discusses past sexual abuse is far too high,” MHS social studies teacher Mrs. Alexis Kalamaras said. “The amount of time that has passed since an incidence of abuse should not be a factor in determining the validity of the accusation.  In many cases the emotional distress caused by the abuse can impede a person from coming forward sooner.”

Of course, this caused an uproar on social media, with fans and ordinary internet-goers flabbergasted that the United States Justice system failed an alleged rape victim who now has to, by law, produce six more albums with the man who made her life a living hell. The hashtag “#FreeKesha” went viral, with millions of people sending out tweets and posts while using it. Other hashtags and trends like “#SonySupportsRape” and “Drop Luke to Free Kesha” also emerged. During this time, the  numerous petitions aiming to  reverse the decision received more than 400,000 combined signatures.

“Kesha is very talented and I hope for her sake that she isn’t lying,” senior Mike Hiller said. “I am kind of looking forward to her new music, as it will be much different coming from a new producer.”

In Kesha’s defense, Lady Gaga (who has tweeted in support of her,  met with her in person, and dedicated her Oscars performance to  her), and dozens of her colleagues, vocalists, producers, actors and actresses alike, rushed to her side, offering their thoughts, sympathy and help during this tough time.

“Standing with Kesha through this traumatic, deeply unfair time,” singer Lorde tweeted. “Send good vibes her way everyone.”

Producers Zedd and Jack Antonoff showed their support as well by offering to produce music for Kesha while megastar Taylor Swift quietly gave her $250,000 to cover her legal fees.

Chorus teacher and music expert Mrs. Ilena Dempsey supports the artists who are standing up for each other on such big issues.

“I was happy to see such support from other artists that know the music business and how corrupt it can be,” Mrs. Dempsey said. “It seems hard for them to even say too much, they know some artists get themselves into a bad situation because they want to make it in the music industry. It is such an unfortunate situation for Kesha.”

Students also have strong opinions on Kesha’s current legal battle.

“I think it is completely dehumanizing for Kesha,” junior Katrina Parubleva said. “It should be completely allowed for her, and any sort of artist to be allowed to not work with someone regardless of money and contracts. Even if an artist feels uncomfortable with anyone they work with or vise versa, they should be allowed to not work them and make the music they want to.”

Kesha’s next hearings in the trial will occur on May 5 (for the New York filing) and May 16 (for the California filings), according to Buzzfeed. This will  hopefully lead to her  finally obtaining the freedom for which she and her fans have wanted for almost half a decade.

“I’m pretty excited for how [Kesha’s] going to inspire others who have had similar issues as her [in her new music],” Parubleva said. “I can see herself reinventing herself and making this whole problem into something inspiring.”

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