Increasingly I’m amazed by the bad practice in our industry that goes unchallenged and perversely accepted. For sure people speak in code about this bully or that abuser, and very occasionally some brave soul will expose the secret and name the people involved. However, generally speaking, our industry is one that is seeped in the secrets that will remain unchallenged as everybody fends for themselves and hustles for work.
If you make a fuss, if you call out wrongdoings, you sense the people around you putting their heads down and praying that you don’t embroil them in the furore. Those that constantly call out bad behaviour are ironically labelled as the “trouble-makers”. For all the social media accounts working their PR, saying the right things, it’s quite shocking when you discover quite how much spin is being put on things.
As somebody that has never been able to keep quiet about anything I’m forever appalled by what people will cover up in a bid to avoid a fuss, meaning of course that we never really get to the crux of the issues. Eventually all of these things come out, usually because the people practicing bad practice will get complacent and mess with the wrong people, or the wrong companies, and they get called out, and then we have that other group of people that had always wanted to break cover, but only feel able to do so if there’s some sort of “group action” taking place.
As saying nothing is alien to me, after all, silence simply makes you complicit in the problem, I struggle to understand the mentality of people that put up with nonsense. I genuinely don’t understand how they sleep at night, knowing that they’re covering up bad behaviour. Gee abusive relationships are complex aren’t they, especially when the abuser is your industry.
Then this weekend I heard about the untimely and sudden death of David Kort. David along with his life partner Christopher Colby are a stark reminder of the good guys. Whilst eulogising about David in private posts it struck me how lucky I had been to have done quite so many shows with them back in the day. Every show I reminisced about only had good memories. They always created a safe space to rehearse in, and we’re talking over 20 years ago now, a time when nobody really understood what a ‘safe space’ was.
Every rehearsal was full on, full out and full of laughter. From one-off concerts to major No 1 tours they never got stressed, they always respected everybody in the room, and they always respected everybody’s craft. So many life-long friendships were made in those rooms simply because they took time to try and hire the nice people, and when, for whatever reason, some others slipped through the net, they never shied away from sorting out the issues, whilst supporting everybody involved.
Looking online at all the tributes paid to David over the past few days it’s made me quite reflective. I had started to get concerned that I was edging into that “bitter old woman” stage, given that recently there’s been so much to complain about, and so little support out there trying to make a difference. Too many people keeping the secrets in a self-destructive Faustian pact between themselves and their careers. Questioning the motives of some of the people/organisations perceived to be at the forefront of change when actually their PR machines are spending as much time telling us that they’re great whilst occasionally reminding us of their work.
The conclusion of my reflection was actually quite simple though. There are very few genuinely good guys around, and so it’s right to keep calling out injustice, just like it’s right to truly eulogise the good guys. David Kort was most definitely a good guy, and our industry, and indeed the world, is a lot poorer today because he’s gone.