Elizabeth Le Fey Needed Us; We Failed


We failed. Autonomously as a website, collectively as journalists, and, more importantly, as individuals. When we interviewed Elizabeth le Fey of Globelamp, only weeks ago, we neglected to approach, assess, or cover the story of her physical and emotional abuse by an artist you may be familiar with. We did not mention that she had been in a relationship with Sam France of Foxygen. We did not tell our readers that le Fey had written on Tumblr that “[France] hit me in the face, slut shamed me, held me down by the neck and threatened to kill me.” When le Fey spoke to France’s father about the abuse, she asserts that he was largely defiant in empathy, even going as far as to tell his son “‘Make sure [le Fey] doesn’t tell anyone.'”

It was a situation in which civility and safety was delinquent.

In 2013, after le Fey had released a blog post about her trials in and with the band Foxygen, Stereogram typed, somewhat cavalierly and amiss of the big picture, “Elizabeth le Fey Exposes Band Drama”. It’s a headline that sounds aloof, dismissive, gossip-heady. It’s a title that was tailor-made to be buried. Even the author of the piece, Claire Lobenfeld, wrote that le Fey’s revelations were “suspect”, heaving the artist into a throng of acrimonious – and anonymous – readers with little cause to do so. It was the beginning of a procedural termination of articles, commentaries, and outrage that gave short shrift to the musician.

When Impose Magazine released a thorough, uncompromising, and determined essay on the abuse of le Fey at the hands of Sam France in January of 2016, few publications clicked their pens over the matter. Twitter stayed soft in its news, ruffling, ever so gently, like an ASMR reading: content in making glib jokes about the NCAA football championship when it wasn’t buzzing over their makeshift Oscar ballots. The abuse that le Fey spoke of wasn’t swept under the rug, because nobody even thought to hoist a broom or to hear about the news in the first place. It was embers before the fire.

But why?

In June, LA Weekly had released an ideologically virulent take on artist Sky Ferriera. All saliva and butane, the commentary was a heightened, testosterone-wicked fantasy. Like many other websites, we were fueled with ire and disbelief. We raked the Southern California paper over the coals with the help of artists and music labels. Incensed entities rose up everywhere, rolled up their sleeves, and joined in a discourse over safety and solidarity.

Only three months later, we failed le Fey. In holding a Q&A with the artist, we were reticent to ask questions or open a healthy dialogue about the abuse that she says came to her at the hands of France. We folded, quietly, and fired off accessible inquires. My reasoning was fraudulent: work in brevity, speak on behalf of the upcoming show, tread in silence. I was selfishly acquiescing to ease. In being flippant, Cinema Spartan told only half the story. Like many other publications, we buoyed in a sea of tidy, operative words that meant little. We should have done more. Le Fey deserves more.


Author: Rob Patrick

The program director of the Olympia Film Society, Rob is also a former San Diego Film Critics Society member. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. When he isn't curating a film festival, he is drinking rosé out of a plastic cup in Seattle or getting tattoos from Jenn Champion.

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  1. It’s great that you apologized for dropping the ball…the question I have for you now is, what are you going to do about it? An apology with no action taken is an apology that’s better left unsaid.

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  2. nice to get confirmation that there does indeed exist an implied understanding which journalists have internalized granting pecking order status to certain identity groups, be they popular artists, men, &c.

    all the better that direct access to artists is more prevalent now than ever – you in the press certainly aren’t a trustworthy source, so we’ll continue to marginalize you further and further in favor of the horse’s mouth.

    thank you for clearing that up.

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