Entertainment these days is largely based on the concept of “what goes around will always come back”. Many modern forms of media are recycled – sound bytes from one song in another song, sequels, prequels, remakes, adaptations. A lot of what happens in pop culture bears repeating.
A current legal case in the entertainment industry is proving to, as Britt Julious of The Guardian calls it, be “radical, even revolutionary”. Kesha aka Ke$ha, the singer of hits like “Tik Tok” and “Timber”, has sued her producer Dr. Luke for charges such as sexual harassment, unfair business practices and abuse.
Though a lot of people are surprised by Kesha’s bold move to gain freedom with her creativity and away from personal oppression, her saga can be compared to another famous blonde. Exactly 60 years ago, the iconic Marilyn Monroe fought her own battle for creative control, and if you are thinking the comparison is far fetched, read on:
1) Right to Creativity & Unfair Contracts – In 1954, Marilyn Monroe covertly moved to New York away from the public eye where she made her own production company with photographer friend Milton Greene. She did so as a sign of rebellion against an unfair contract with MGM where she was paid lower amounts than her costars, made to constantly do comedies and was paraded around like a show pony for them. In 2014, after publicly stating to Rollingstone Magazine the year before that she had no creative control, Kesha escapes the public eye to rehab in Illinois for an eating disorder, emerging healthy and files a lawsuit against Dr Luke and Kemosabe Records. Kesha has stated before that she wishes to release material that would make the public take her more seriously and that her monetary percentages as an artist and song writer are unfair.
2) Marketed as Stupid – Marilyn was famous for “dumb, hot blonde” roles, but she was quite studious. She constantly attended prestigious acting classes and read books about method acting, despite being a famous actress. Meanwhile decades later, Kesha scored a 1500 out of 1600 on her SATs and has quoted before that in high school, she would sneak into college courses on Cold War history “for fun”. She also writes most of her own music and has penned work for many others including Britney Spears, Big Time Rush, and Ariana Grande.
3) Supporting Minorities – Marilyn was boldly remembered for getting Ella Fitzgerald on the music club scene by agreeing to make appearances if they would allow the famous African American singer in their establishments. Meanwhile, Kesha has stood up for gay rights, even saying on stage during a tour that she would not get married until all gay men and women can, including frequently doing an entire performance number with a Rainbow American flag.
4) Image Re-haul – When Marilyn emerged back on to the Los Angeles scene after creating her own production company in New York, she completely overhauled her image with the help of the aforementioned Milton Greene to externally show she was a new person. Kesha did the same with long time friend and stylist Vittorio Masecchia after her stint in rehab upon returning to LA.
5) Odd Family Dynamic – Marilyn Monroe spent much of her childhood years in foster care, and it is noted that the time she spent with Milton Greene and his family in New York out of the public eye was of great service not only to her career, but to her as a human being. Kesha, while in a very close family and never in foster care, has never known who her father is. Other than one comical attempt at getting to know someone who claimed to be her father, and joking that rock star Alice Cooper is her father, she has noted that her strong family relationship back in the Nashville area is one of the building blocks of her life as a person and artist.
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