January 25, 2018


GRAMMYs 2018: Wearing White Roses Needs to Mean More Than Just a Fashion Statement

Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic
Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic

Some of the biggest music executives have called upon artists to show their support with the Time's Up movement by wearing white roses at the 2018 GRAMMYs on Sunday. But while the sentiment is heartfelt, donning an accessory doesn't show enough action when many people are still silent about the music industry's dark underbelly.

According to Billboard, Meg Harkins, Senior VP at Roc Nation and Karen Rait, head of rhythmic promotions at Interscope/Geffen/A&M Records came together to organize the movement. They chose the white rose because it is a practical and traditional accessory with a symbolic color, referencing Hillary Clinton and the suffragettes (which is a slightly problematic issue in of itself since it excludes countless people of color). "It is an important conversation politically in our country and it's also a conversation we need to have internally with our artists and our companies," Harkins explained. "We need to say if anyone is feeling like they're being discriminated against and they don't feel safe in their workplace, they have people who will support them."

Since their announcement, Halsey, Rapsody, Kelly Clarkson, Cyndi Lauper, Dua LipaRita Ora, Tom Morello and more have confirmed they will participate in the movement. It was inspired by the 2018 Golden Globes earlier this month, where actors wore all black and Times' Up pins. But as highlighted with that awards show, this support of solidarity can lead to hypocrisy.

A fashion statement means nothing when half the people who will attend this year's GRAMMYs have either worked with or supported executives, industry players, music producers, rappers and singers who are sexual predators or have been accused of sexual assault and misconduct. Most of these allegations have been well-documented for months (some even years, in the case of R. Kelly), yet many of these artists have yet to speak out about it.

Justin Timberlake, who will most likely attend the ceremony to promote his upcoming album, is one of the main artists who show surface-level support yet have skeletons they refuse to dust away. After the singer wore a Time's Up pin to the Golden Globes, he was immediately slammed for donning the accessory while still being mum about working with Woody Allen. Dylan Farrow, the director's adoptive daughter, called out Timberlake for his hypocrisy. "The saying means, for example, you can’t support #TIMESUP and praise sexual predators at the same time," she said in response to the singer's tweet earlier this week. "You can’t retain your credibility as an activist (i.e. - retain the cake) and, at the same time, praise a sexual predator (i.e. - eating the cake)." 

There is also R. Kelly, whose underage sex allegations have been rumbling for not years, but decades. A new round of accusers came forth last year when veteran Chicago music critic Jim DeRogatis (who has been investigating R. Kelly for a long time) published a report detailing the artist's abusive sex cult. Many big-name artists have worked with him over the years, with the most recent being Lady Gaga (who is praised for her support of sexual assault victims), Bryson Tiller (who's performing this year), Fantasia, Jeremih and the GRAMMY-winning Chance the Rapper. Russell Simmons, the founder of Def Jam and a huge rap mogul, is also feeling the Weinstein effect as 15 women have accused him of sexual assault and rape thus far. The list goes on, with the possibility of other allegations that have not yet been brought to light.

The shift in Hollywood and the music industry is almost tangible as women are openly and bravely discussing their incidents with sexual abuse by some of the biggest industry leaders. The conversation has been masked for too long, and it is important that we continue to tackle these issues publicly. But does wearing an accessory properly drive that notion home? For the moment, probably so. Yet this shouldn't turn into a trend where we see actors wearing something notable at the Oscars and other award shows to come this year. Show your solidarity on the red carpet, but don't throw the significance of the movement away along with your wilted flower.

Below, watch Young M.AMILCK and everyday women speak out about solidarity, empowerment and being fearless: