Firefly Pointer Fiberglass Jacket: Let's get "Gitsploitation" straight

Friday, January 24, 2014

Let's get "Gitsploitation" straight

 In early December I was messaged by Steve Moriarty of the Gits, who I work with, to give me a heads up. He let me know that NBC is wanting to make a mini documentary on Mia's murder. It appeared they were going ahead with it with or without The Gits knowledge or consent. This was certainly sour news.

 Before long, Steve posted a message on Facebook (January 5th 2014):
”NBC’s True Crime in the Dark (or something equally as tasteless) series, recently filmed a re-enactment of the murder of our friend Mia Zapata. They used actors and canned music. I tried to have civil and logical conversations with the producers of the show, however, NBC did not think that using The Gits music or film footage of Mia playing live was worth paying customary and fair licensing fees as established by ASCAP, BMI and the recording Industry. There is nothing artistic, musical or positive about the re-telling of Mia’s brutal death. Nothing except a cheap way for NBC to sell ads for a younger, hipper demographic which the network desperately needs. The piece will air in June and does not have the endorsement of any of the band, Mia’s family or immediate friends. It is simply, Gitsploitation and I suggest local business refrain from advertising products and services on NBC during the month of the one hour episode of “murder in the dark”. (Or whatever the title) featuring The murder of Mia and the city of Seattle.”
 Literally over night, Gits fans took off with this message. Steve's post went viral and before I knew it we had another important meeting. As we sat at a local Starbucks, he filled me in with what has transpired. He mentioned he got a lot of messages from all kinds of people, everyone from friends and fans to writers for newspapers and magazines. All of the sudden a Boycott was seeming to grow legs and move. He mentioned also that on one hand it was nice to hear the support, but it was a bit frightening to read some of people's fanatically freaky messages.

 The next day he had an interview with Rolling Stone. All I could keep saying is "Woa" it was all happening fast and coming on strong. Before long, the Rolling Stone article came out: Gits Drummer Blasts NBC for Exploiting Mia Zapata's Death on TV
"There is nothing artistic, musical or positive about the re-telling of Mia's brutal death," Moriarty wrote. 
Peacock Productions spokesperson wrote in an e-mail, "As with any crime, we understand the strong emotions surrounding this case, and we're taking that into consideration as we tell Mia's story." (Riiiiight)
"I thought that perhaps local businesses might want to make a statement that it's not okay for NBC, or any production company, to come into Seattle and exploit murders of women, or anyone else, over and over again," he says. "I wouldn't know how to start and run a boycott — I can barely do Facebook." Moriarty adds that he doesn't have an opinion whether people watch or not. "People watch all kinds of fucked-up shit — I don't judge people over what they watch on TV."
In his Facebook post, Moriarty said that the Dead of Night episode "does not have the endorsement of any of the band, Mia's family or immediate friends." He wrote that the show would employ actors — in December, the Capitol Hill City Blog  reported on a casting call for audience extras for the show's re-creation of a Gits performance — and would use "canned music" because the production company was unwilling to pay "customary and fair licensing fees."
Peacock Productions spokesperson wrote, "That being said, no stock music will be presented or used as though the Gits are playing or performing it."
"I would rather people associate Mia with music with art and not murder — not how she died," Moriarty says.

 That right there is why Gits fans, friends and family are upset. It's not about the money. It's about the fact that we are focusing on the death, notably the brutal death of Mia. As someone who thankfully works right along with this band, I can tell you it isn't about money. Steve, Matt, Andy, Mia's friends and family are STILL greatly affected by her death. It is a feeling of great loss that you feel permeating through the band. It breaks my heart to hear it in voices and see it in faces. Then there's the inevitable thoughts of "what if things were different?" and what would it have been like to meet Mia.

 It is interesting to hear stories of this woman in all of who she was. There is so much more to her story than the way she exited this world. Like a chump, I read the messages in the comments section of the Rolling Stone article. In true internet fashion, there were quite a few comments calling Steve money hungry and insulting the situation. There is pretty much no way that isn't going to hit me in a sensitive nerve. Steve is like a father figure/mentor to me now, so not only did I KNOW that was untrue, I found it outright offensive. I chimed in reminding people "The Gits isn't just Steve, The Gits are Steve, Matt, Andy, AND Mia's family."

(On January 14th) “I was in Seattle for show. I was shocked at how many friends and strangers approached me about my FB post regarding the exploitative NBC Reality Crime Show, “Murder in the Night”. The post went kinda viral (I guess) and suddenly Rolling Stone, Seattle Met, KIRO news etc, wanted to interview me about the big boycott of NBC. (A term I never used).
Musician and Author Vanessa Veselka lent perspective to a group of us as we posed for our vanity rock pics in the posh green room of the club (just a half block from where Mia Zapata was last seen alive) Vanessa said something like; murder/crime TV depicting stalking, rape and murder of women can fuel real murder/rape fetishes of some sick men leading to violent acting out in ways learned in part from TV. Its death glamorized and rape sexualized. The true stories of murder of women and girls and grieving families for profit.
I think that some of these programs were once sincere efforts to catch fugitive violent criminals from TV viewer’s phone tips.
So why is NBC featuring a case that we solved 10 years ago? I can Guess$.
Basta ya! Enough is enough.
Mia Zapata becomes a more influential musician and artist worldwide, while once popular bands with forgotten songs have fleeting reunion shows. Mia has not set foot on stage since 1993 but still inspires countless women, men and youth to play music. She communicates empathy, determination and resilience with unrivaled soul-knowing delivery with brilliant word economy.
Mia’s grace, grit and her indomitable spirit shames TV network’s efforts to exploit, yet again, her death for quick cash.
This chapter is over. Let the woman sing and be known for her life, her art and her band.” 

Let the woman sing and be known for her life, her art and her band.

 How are NBC viewers going to get the impact of the Gits music if they're using canned music for the episode? And here's a little nugget of knowledge, you wanna know how much NBC offered to pay the Gits? $250.00. Big money indeed! It should also be noted that thankfully Mia's murder has been solved, so there is nothing to gain other than money and ratings on NBC's behalf. When Mia's Unsolved Mysteries segment aired, it aimed to help bring the killer to justice. And now the guy is in jail and Mia's family and friends just want to move forward with only the positive thoughts of Mia. It was awesome to see the amount of encouraging and positive comments from Gits fans, but the bad ones are really nasty. Unfortunately Steve saw the negative comments from The Rolling Stone article too and chimed in (January 16th):
The Rolling Stone interview I did last week received a lot of negative comments. So like a sucker taunted by ignorant bullies, I posted the following reply:
Seattle is one of the greatest cities in the world for music and the arts because of a civic understanding and a willingness to give back to the community. The rising tide lifts all ships. Most every band, cartoonist, filmmaker, writer, dancer, actor or artist does about 95% of their work for free. For the benefit of seeing something beautiful created from nothing. What we have we share to help out other people doing cool stuff. They in turn pass the resources forward. Most of the gigs THE GITS played were benefits for some worthy cause or non-profit. It’s that way with most indie and punk bands. Nobody is in it for the money but at times money is needed and often well deserved. When our singer Mia was murdered and we needed to find the killer, our friends, artists and musicians organized and raised money needed for our private murder investigation that eventually led to his apprehension and incarceration. A nonprofit was formed to teach self defense to women and girls for free, It offered classes for over 10 years. This model was replicated in cities all over the world. 
There exist industry standard fees for licensing original music for television shows, movies and commercials that are created to sell products and make profits. There are also a few common threads of decorum that one must employ when that venture involves the hearts and souls of individuals who have lost a family member… or otherwise suffered deeply. The purpose of this type of reality based entertainment is to research, film and then profit from selling advertising to other businesses. The very friendly folks at NBC’s Peacock Productions were only able to pay lip service to the sensitivity needed in this case. They were in a hurry, they had alienated the Zapata family and several of my friends by cold calling to ask for personal filmed interviews of a horrible event in their lives. They had refused another musician’s suggestion to donate some proceeds to a local children’s hospice. 
You would be shocked if you knew how little NBC had offered to use our songs for the episode, maybe even insulted. I stand by my band’s decision not to donate our precious few recordings or scraps of film footage to a TV show, already in production, themed essentially on the worst event in my (and many other’s) life. Justice is fairness in my world and NBC would do well to be fair to musicians and more respectful to the people they use to create reality TV.
Thanks for all the great input. It’s a grand opportunity to discuss issues that are important to many people but are too often snubbed, criticized or ignored. Issues like: fair wages for work, intellectual property rights and the pathetic value corporations tend to place the lives of others.
But it’s late. I think there may be a rerun of “30 Rock” airing on NBC… I love that show!” 
 By NBC going ahead with making this episode about Mia's murder they ARE exploiting The Gits. The murder has been solved, so it's not as if it has any potential to help the case. Bringing up this brutal crime that has been solved only re-opens bones deep wounds for Mia's friends and family. Imagine if this were your daughter. And to top the whole thing off, NBC isn't interested in consent from the band or fair pay. So the whole situation is quite upsetting. I understand why the band including Mia's family said no. I think Steve may have been open to it initially because truth be told...he's a really nice guy. I think he just wanted to hear them out, but they really weren't interested in making any kind of fair deal. When I first heard about The Gits it was presented to me in the way of Mia's murder. When you become a fan and get involved, that aspect of it becomes so small compared to everything else she did. The music is what it is all about, and this NBC special will not touch on that at all. 

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