Monday, September 07, 2020

"His friends all knew what he was like"

According to the old adage, you shouldn't speak ill of the dead. That certainly seems to have been the line taken by numerous (male) DJs and dance music insiders when reacting to the death of Erick Morillo. However, as Annabel Ross has pointed out in a no-punches-pulled article for Medium, what is perhaps most appalling is the fact that practically all of the tributes made some gesture towards the rape and assault charges levelled against him - but did so only vaguely and dismissively, effectively excusing his actions as those of a flawed genius, a legend beset by personal demons or a "troubled soul". His victims evidently merited barely a thought.

Just as Rachael Healy recently made clear is true of the stand-up scene, Ross notes that sexism and misogyny are endemic within the world of dance music (going so far as to use the same "tip of the iceberg" metaphor) - but she also acknowledges that the problems are much bigger, systemic in wider society. In that context, the chances of significant change look slim. But it has to start somewhere - and that should be with male performers and promoters both acknowledging and calling out inappropriate behaviour among their peers rather than either keeping quiet or making excuses for the likes of Morillo and James Veitch.

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