Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Cruel Truth About Rock And Roll

 Last week, a story about Jackie Fuchs, centered around her account of being raped by the late music entrepreneur Kim Fowley in a motel room full of people on New Year's Eve in 1975, challenged the very idea that rock and roll is something worth loving. Fuchs's account hit the music world like a bomb that obliterated all taste of cherry from our mouths, demanding the acknowledgment of certain painful facts from anyone who loves 1970s pop culture, that groundbreaking all-female band in particular, or the romantic notion that music celebrating and enacting sexual openness is a force for freedom and empowerment. (Full disclosure: I'm one of those people.)
Like any secret laid bare after years of only furtive acknowledgment, this one has disrupted many lives and caused reactions ranging from rage to self-righteous moralizing to Fuchs's own remarkably generous forgiveness of those who knew something terrible had happened but didn't directly respond. (Here's a good, if incomplete, roundup of responses.) Fowley's reputation is now rightly destroyed. Other Runaways members and people involved with the band have come under fire and responded. (One of them, Runaways biographer Evelyn McDonnell, is my friend and longtime collaborator, and her comments have expanded the discussion in important ways.) As others shared crucial truths or pontificated, Fuchs herself, now a lawyer, employed her own great eloquence to call for the focus to remain on "holding rapists, abusers and bullies accountable." Several commenters have mentioned that the 1970s was a time when the exploitation of very young women was often in the media, citing the famous examples of the groupie milieu surrounding Led Zeppelin and the statutory rape case that exiled film director Roman Polanski from the U.S. Full NPR story here.