GilmerFreePress.net

Arts & Entertainment News

The Free Press WV

►  Taylor Swift groping trial draws attention to hidden outrage

Taylor Swift’s allegation that a former morning radio host reached under her skirt and grabbed her backside during a photo op is bringing attention to a common but largely hidden outrage for many women, one that few report.

A 2014 survey found nearly 1 in 4 women in the United States had been groped or brushed up against in a public place by a stranger at least once.

But many never talked about it, let alone went to the police. A 2015 survey of more than 16,000 people globally found more than half of the respondents outside the U.S. had been fondled or groped.

The then-girlfriend of former DJ David Mueller, who was standing with Mueller and Swift when the singer says he groped her, even testified that a co-worker had grabbed her backside at another concert.

Mueller denies groping Swift and sued the singer, saying he was fired because of her false allegation.

Late Friday, just as closing arguments were set to begin, the judge threw out Mueller’s claims against Swift — saying after he’d heard all of the evidence that Mueller could not prove Swift had anything to do with his losing his job. U.S. District Judge William Martinez also said there was no indication that Swift had made up her story.

Even before that ruling, women around the world, not all of them fans of Swift’s music, had been cheering the pop superstar for confronting the issue in federal court and keeping an unflinching attitude on the witness stand.

On social media, some are using a teal ribbon that represents opposition to sexual violence and praising Swift as an example for other women.

Paige Brasington, 21, a Swift fan from The Woodlands, Texas, said she was groped on public transportation while studying abroad and was glad Swift was giving attention to the issue with the same honesty she brings to her music.

The University of Georgia student was stunned the first time it happened to her on a crowded tram in Budapest, thinking there must have been an object pressed against her. After she reached down, she found a man’s hand on her butt. He exited at the next stop. When she told a male friend, he asked if she had enjoyed it.

“The most important thing about this trial is it gets people talking about this issue,” Brasington said. “It forces them to confront that it is wrong and should never happen.”

Holly Kearl, founder and director of Stop Street Harassment, which commissioned the 2014 U.S. survey, said women who speak out face not being believed or being blamed for groping, something many women have reported in sharing their stories on the group’s website.

Sometimes they do not know their rights or what the law says, or lack the time or energy to report it. However, sharing those stories online, especially through video, is helping show victims it is not uncommon and proves to others it is a problem, she said.

Kearl was standing outside a house after leaving a party in college when a group of men ran by and one of them grabbed her crotch.

Even though she was a domestic violence advocate and well-versed in women’s issues, Kearl said she froze as the men left laughing, and she never reported it.

“It’s just something that happens in our society, and if we don’t challenge it, it’s going to keep happening,” she said.

Swift did not go to the police either. Her mother, Andrea Swift, testified they had hoped to keep the matter private and did not want it to define the singer’s life.

As a star, Swift had another way to take action. Andrea Swift and other members of Swift’s team pushed for Mueller to be fired, which led to his lawsuit against Swift and her representatives.

Mueller’s ex-girlfriend, Shannon Melcher, testified Friday that she saw nothing happen during the brief encounter at the photo session at a Denver arena in 2013 before a Swift performance.

Swift and her legal team have pointedly framed what Mueller allegedly did to her as a sexual assault, not “inappropriate touching” as Mueller’s lawyer, Gabriel McFarland, refers to it.

In Colorado, what Swift alleges is considered unlawful sexual contact or harassment, a misdemeanor, which victims have five years to report to police to prompt an investigation, said Karen Steinhauser, a former chief deputy prosecutor for the Denver District Attorney’s Office. It is unclear if Swift would reconsider pursuing a criminal charge.

On the witness stand, the singer defiantly told McFarland that she was not going to let him or his client make her feel that what happened was her fault.

Swift is countersuing Mueller, alleging assault and battery, and seeking a symbolic $1 judgment holding him responsible. Jurors will still get to decide that, along with whether Swift’s mother and radio liaison interfered with Mueller’s career.

Even though she’s not a fan of Swift’s music, Samaria Alli, 21, lined up for a spot inside federal court to show to her support for Swift’s stand. Alli, a musician, said women often are harassed in her male-dominated field, then face a backlash for complaining about it.

“I just want to see how this plays out for the sake of women anywhere,” she said.

Swift has a somewhat complicated history with feminism. She is known for her “squad,” a group of famous girlfriends that includes Lena Dunham and Selena Gomez, showing off her female friendships in the entertainment industry. And she has posted music from rising female singers on her social media pages, giving them extra exposure.

But Swift also has had a high-profile dispute with fellow female performer Katy Perry. And Swift was criticized by some when she tweeted about the Women’s March hours before it began in January because she did not personally attend, despite other celebrities showing up.

Swift was supportive of fellow singer Kesha, who is at war with her former mentor and producer, Dr. Luke. Kesha claims Dr. Luke drugged, sexually abused and psychologically tormented her. He denies the allegations.

Swift donated $250,000 to Kesha in a “show of support” to help in her legal fight. Adele, Lady Gaga and others also offered support to Kesha.


►  Presley’s friends feel love, pain, 40 years after his death

It isn’t just the legend of Elvis Presley that has unmatched staying power 40 years after his death. The guilt, pain and regret felt by those who knew and loved him lingers, too.

Prolific session musician and producer Norbert Putnam was on vacation with his family in Hawaii when he heard his friend died of a heart attack. After years of making groundbreaking music and acting in more than two dozen movies, Presley’s career had slowed, and historical accounts of his life note he was fighting obesity and substance abuse when he passed away in his Graceland home in Memphis, Tennessee.

Putnam was standing in line to pay for items at a general store when he heard someone say Presley had died.

“I reached into my pocket, threw some money down, ran to the car, threw the food down, turned on the radio,” Putnam said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.

Putnam switched on the radio. The announcer said: “Elvis Presley died this morning.”

“I sat there in my car and bawled like a child who had a toy taken away from him,” Putnam said. “I could not believe it. I thought someone should have staged an intervention. I thought he could have been saved.”

Since Presley’s death, devotees of the swivel-hipped, smooth talking performer who was born into poverty in Tupelo, Mississippi, and became an international star have been flocking to Memphis for Elvis Week, the annual celebration of his life and career.

It coincides with the anniversary of Presley’s death in Memphis on August 16, 1977, and it draws visitors from around the world. Most fans will have their first glimpse of a newly built entertainment complex that has replaced and updated old exhibits focused on Presley’s cars, movies and memorabilia. An estimated 30,000 people are expected to attend a candlelight vigil that begins Tuesday night and continues into Wednesday morning at Graceland, where Presley is buried.

For the first time, Graceland will charge fans for access to Presley’s gravesite during the nighttime vigil. Visitors can pay $28.75 to join the procession leading to the graves. The ticket also provides access to other parts of the property, Graceland said in a statement.

Putnam is scheduled to make a public appearance during Elvis Week to honor the late rock n’ roll pioneer. Bill Medley, the deep-voiced singer who comprised half of the Righteous Brothers duo before starting a solo career, will also be there.

Presley and Medley played the same hotel in Las Vegas in 1971. Their schedules kept them busy, but they still would catch each other’s shows.

Medley had a strong following, and Presley sang Righteous Brothers hits “Unchained Melody” and “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling.” They were friends dating back to the early 1960s.

Before Presley would go on stage at the Las Vegas Hilton, he and Medley would spend a few minutes together, talking about their mutual love for motorcycles and musical influences. Medley remembers those chats fondly, as Presley had few moments when he could just be himself, away from fans and handlers and an entourage known as the Memphis Mafia.

“We would sit there, one on one,” Medley said. “So Elvis and I just really became Bill and Elvis. We would just talk about normal stuff. ... Nothing too deep.”

Putnam, a bass guitarist and member of the renowned Muscle Shoals rhythm section, played on 120 Presley songs. He recalls how much energy Presley displayed during the marathon recording sessions that ran all night at RCA Studio B in Nashville in 1970.

“Elvis could focus better than any artist I ever worked with,” Putnam said. “He would learn a new song in five to 10 minutes, and was ready to deliver a killer vocal on the first take. That was very unusual.”

Another musician who will appear during Elvis Week is Ginger Holladay. She was only 17 and in high school when she sang backup on Presley hits “Suspicious Minds” and “In the Ghetto.” Holladay’s sister Mary, a backup singer for Presley, had recommended Ginger when one of his regulars fell ill. So, Ginger Holladay skipped cheerleading practice and flew to Memphis to record at American Sound studio in 1969.

“He was more at home in the studio than he was anywhere else,” Holladay said. “He loved being a musician and he loved making connections with other musicians. We got to see another part of him that was more comfortable and not so much of a performer.”

Medley says he wanted to visit Presley when he was hospitalized in the mid-1970s, but was discouraged by his handlers.

“They knew what I was going to say — enough of this crap,” Medley said. “I would have told him, ‘Listen, do you want to get away? We’ll get a couple of motorcycles and take off.’ But I never had that chance.”

Such regret probably follows Presley’s friends around to this day, Holladay said.

“We all have that guilt with Elvis,” she said. “Looking back, how could we have supported him more? I think we all have that feeling that we let him down.”

Click Below for additional Content...

Page 1 of 1 pages

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

The Gilmer Free Press
Art, Craft, Photography

The Gilmer Free Press
Books, Magazines, Newspaper

The Gilmer Free Press
Movie

The Gilmer Free Press
Music

The Gilmer Free Press
TV, Radio



The Gilmer Free Press

Copyright MMVIII-MMXVII The Gilmer Free Press. All Rights Reserved