The Atlantic

The Accusations Against Ryan Adams Are All Too Familiar

How far are the harassment and career-derailment allegations against the rocker from, say, the A Star Is Born story?
Source: Jordan Strauss / Invision / AP

An established musician lavishes an unknown one with praise and career help: recording sessions, songwriting advice, a spot on a tour. What to call the two of them? Boss and employee? Nothing so straightforward. Collaborative equals? Not if one’s success depends on the other’s largesse. Really, they’re mentor and mentee, a central arrangement in pop-music mythology, most recently given Hollywood glorification in A Star Is Born.

But in real life, that story can involve the mentor exploiting power for sex, and without actually helping the mentee. The #MeToo tales to emerge in the music industry have, to an overwhelming extent, exposed men who tried to trade access to the music industry for access to a musician’s body. Many of the women allegedly abused by R. Kelly lured into his orbit by the prospect of professional development. It happens in formal arrangements, too: Among the women alleging rape by is , an artist he managed. Now the accusations surfacing about the rocker Ryan Adams offer a stark reminder of how such mentorship can be weaponized.

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