Friday, January 22, 2021

"A pernicious infamy"

As understatements go, describing spousal abuser and convicted murderer Phil Spector as "flawed" was right up there. As editorial decisions go, suffice to say it's not one the BBC should be particularly proud of. At least they had the decency to swiftly change their article about his death and subsequently issue an apology, I suppose.

For the Guardian's Laura Snapes, Spector's enduring legacy is not the famous "wall of sound" production style or the drumbeat on The Ronettes' 'Be My Baby', but "music industry abuse going unchecked because the art is perceived as worth it - or worse, considered 'proof' of wild and untameable genius". She argues that he "created not just a sound but the enduring paradigm of the exploitative music svengali whose work is too lucrative for him to be held to account, his victims little more than unfortunate collateral".

The long list of men who have followed in his footsteps proves her point - that a reverence for artistic talent and/or a preoccupation with commercial interests regularly results in turning a blind eye to unacceptable behaviour, the victims of which are all too often women.

Snapes suggests that perhaps the solution lies in "a more collectivist view" that abandons what Jen Calleja has called "the cult of the individual" and instead acknowledges the fundamentally collaborative nature of the creative process. In doing so, she adds an extra dimension to Calleja's case for recognising the input and work of others rather than giving (or seeking) sole credit.

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