Madison Thomas is the Features Editor at The Dwarf, an Australian online music mag, as well as a blogger in her own right at rubybluemonday.blogspot.com.au. Madison’s recent encounter with Red Foo’s legal team lead her to becoming a personal hero of mine, as well as thousand of others who were shocked at the heavy handed approach taken by the pop-star against a local writer and small online publication.
What is your background and how did you come to write for and edit The Dwarf?
I started reviewing and interviewing bands about four years ago for Tone Deaf. I was very fortunate to have the inimitable Melanie Lewis as my editor, and she pointed me in the right direction time and time again, dusted me off when I took a hit, and bought me many a beer. As far as great female music industry role models go, they don’t get much better than Mel. I left Tone Deaf and toyed with ditching the writing caper altogether, but the folks over at The Dwarf convinced me otherwise. When the opportunity to edit the site came up, I jumped at the chance to try something new.
You shot to local stardom recently with your Open Apology To Redfoo on The Dwarf, which caused Redfoo’s lawyers to write you a cease and desist letter. I’m guessing you never guessed the article would blow up like it did? What was the general reaction from those around you and online?
I had a feeling that the original article would do well, and it did. We got about 600 Facebook likes and that was about it. When I got to work the next day I found a very angry letter from Redfoo’s lawyers in my inbox. Initially, I thought it was a joke but when I read on I realised that they were actually very serious. Redfoo’s people (and I suppose Redfoo himself) took exception to my article and I assume when they realised that they were headed straight for a shitstorm, they threatened us with legal action as we had published slightly incorrect lyrics. The corrected lyrics certainly didn’t make a huge difference but as a small website we couldn’t take the risk. I sat and stewed for a little while and then wrote the apology on my lunchbreak. Again, I thought it would do well, but I did not anticipate that it would strike such a chord. When I posted the article on my personal Facebook page it received over 37,000 likes, 3300 shares, and hundreds of comments. Our servers crashed at 1.8 million hits that afternoon.
The general reaction was overwhelmingly positive. I received about 600 friend requests, dozens of lovely messages, and a heap of great feedback. Unfortunately there were also a lot of vile messages and comments from people that I can only assume missed the point, which was pretty hard. I never quite understood why people seem to think that attacking a female writer’s looks, perceived promiscuity, and general talent somehow supports their argument. That being said, I was called a “jealous ass hater” which thoroughly amused me.
How do you pay the bills? Is writing a full time job/ passion or are you, like me (as my landlord does not take payment in the form of hugs or extreme gratitude), engaged in another form of employment?
Unfortunately as many creative types know, the ability to write pretty words/strum a guitar/paint a picture often does not pay the bills. Day to day I work for a very understanding obstetrician/gynaecologist, which sounds much less cool when you’re chatting to boys in bars. I’m very lucky to have a brilliant boss and manager who are extremely supportive of my writing. They were pretty chuffed to have an internet famous co-worker for about a week, but now I’m back to reaching things on high shelves and answering the phone. Oh, the fickleness of celebrity.
2014 is drawing to a close and it has been one hell of a year for feminism. What is your take on the current climate and what it means to be a feminist today?
I never really thought of myself as a feminist before all of this happened. That is to say, I didn’t not see myself as feminist either. I have always believed that women should be equal to men- politically, socially and economically. The fact that this is still an issue in 2014 is astonishing. I learned pretty quickly that my thoughts were shared by so many people, and that my outraged was echoed.
I think feminism can be wrongfully seen as a dirty word by some, and the word “feminazi” was thrown in my direction quite a few times during the Redfoo saga. I’m a female and I believe I should have the right to be treated as an equal to my male counterparts. It would be great to go to a music industry function and be treated equally, rather than being hit on by leery old men.
To me, being a feminist today means calling out bullshit when you see it. I think it is an exciting time for women, and to be a woman, as more and more people are standing up to this crap. There is change in the air, not just for feminism but for so many political and social issues. People are pissed off. They are joining together and taking to the streets, revolution is in the air. Hopefully 2015 will see the back of Tony Abbott, further leaps ahead in all areas of feminism, and the legalisation of gay marriage.