tue 25/06/2024

On the Record review - #MeToo turns its lens to the music industry, gives the mic to women of colour | reviews, news & interviews

On the Record review - #MeToo turns its lens to the music industry, gives the mic to women of colour

On the Record review - #MeToo turns its lens to the music industry, gives the mic to women of colour

An unflinching look at #MeToo, misogyny in hip hop, and the burdens of black women

Drew Dixon, one of 20 women who accused music mogul Russell Simmons of sexual misconductDogwoof / HBO

On the Record, the latest documentary from Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (acclaimed directors of The Hunting Ground), dives into the sexual misconduct allegations against music mogul Russell Simmons,

the so-called ‘Godfather of Hip Hop.’ It centres on interviews with Drew Dixon (pictured below), who — as a twentysomething music executive — launched Whitney Houston hits and scouted a young Kanye West. She left the industry after Simmons allegedly raped her.

Drew Dixon as an up-and-coming A&R executive in the 90s

This is an elegant, stinging addition to the #MeToo dialogue, which gives due emphasis to black women and the music industry — a place, we’re told, where sexual harassment was once ‘considered the price of admission.’ Although On The Record focuses on Dixon’s decision to make her allegations public, it’s rich with archival footage and interviews with other survivors. The documentary is articulate about the complex dynamics of #MeToo in the black community, and there is incisive commentary from critics like Kimberlé Crenshaw and Tarana Burke, the women who coined the terms ‘intersectionality’ and #MeToo.

On the Record follows in the vein of Leaving Neverland and Surviving R. Kelly. Still, it feels original. With Dixon’s searing voice, it’s also hopeful and genuinely affecting. If you’ve been raped, she says, “you’re the one that has to disgust the world by telling them what happened to you. Your life is the crime scene.” She is candid, conflicted, but unafraid to take on people that deride her for accusing a talented black man. Through the camera, she always looks us in the eye: “I wanted Russell to be a hero too.”


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