An Open Letter to Kevin Lyman
By Andrew Van Buskirk
You so offered the option, so here I am to take advantage of such a rare opportunity. Your email was provided, and thus, I will use it as my way of trying to communicate exactly what it is I have been trying to for the past few months.
I’m sure this is the part where someone might take the opportunity to insert a quick line about misogyny or throw an expletive your way, and sure, while it would be very easy to do that, it would immediately negate any point that I am trying to make moving forward both in this email as well as in my own life. Nothing will be settled if a true conversation doesn’t take place.
You asked on Twitter for us to email you our real plans to help. Unfortunately, I don’t have any just yet. See, that’s just it: none of us do. I certainly don’t, and I know you don’t either. We are human, and that means we will make mistakes; it means we will never have ALL the answers.
However, what separates us from animals is our ability to communicate and come together as a community to solve a problem. Sure, monkeys can work in teams and problem solve, and I’m sure they have their own methods of communication that we can’t understand or perceive. However, Mr. Lyman, we as people have our voices. We need to start using them.
I wrote an article for a website called Babetalk that addresses the general issue of misogyny in our scene from a man’s perspective. It addresses a variety of topics, and I’ll attach a link below for you to read if you choose. However, I would like to directly quote the final paragraph from it, if I may, because I think it’s exactly what needs to be said under these circumstaces:
“We as men have the power to make a change, and I want to take the first step forward. However, where many might take this opportunity to tell you what to do or give you a numbered list of what to fix, I’m going to do the opposite: we is the operative word here. It simply isn’t my place to dictate how we as a society should affect change. I can’t, as a single person, definitively tell a public how to fix themselves. I can’t proclaim the steps we need to take, because I don’t have them. We all like to think we have the answers, when the reality is, very simply, we don’t. We need to act as a community to find those answers, and to fix the problems at hand together. This doesn’t lie on one person, and one person alone can’t solve it; this lies on all of us to consciously act and work together. If we are going to be the close-knit, open-minded community we like to believe we really are, it’s time to act like it.”
See, there is a poeticism and beauty in the structure of sentences and phrasing that is inherently attractive to us on an almost subconscious level. Yes, certain works look nice together on the surface: chocolate ice cream, for example. But when something carries real weight, and provokes thought, only then will it affect change. By using words in your tweets like “boring”, it is dismissive and derisive, and only adds fuel to the plethora of flames that continue to erupt. If you want change and you want communication, it needs to be genuinely and warmly welcomed.
That’s not to say it isn’t of course. I also am in no position to tell you how to properly do a job you’ve been doing for 20+ years. However, I will say that there are things that need to be done differently. You know as well as I do that this is a business, and businesses need to adapt to their ever changing marketplace. You need to know your market (fan base), recognize trends (social media interaction), and find ways to enhance user experience to bring them back for whatever changes might come with the next phase your business model enters.
The “town hall” meetings Warped Tour has had with the Front Porch Step and Slaves issues have been indicative of the efforts your business is making to create a more open forum for discussion. However, you need to remember that your customers are, in some ways, employees too. Remember that concert goers are also sometimes volunteers, or photographers, or one-day VIP holders. Remember that these are people with solid, valuable voices that could potentially have a LOT to say. Remember that word choice that comes off as dismissive drives a lot of that potential away.
The Front Porch Step issue is something I don’t want to discuss, for a multitude of reasons, so I won’t. I will say that I strongly disagree with the decision, I will say that I don’t believe it was part of his therapy, and I will say that as a man, a brother, and a person in general (excerpted from the article I quoted earlier), I think it was disrespectful to a lot of different people, and put your staff and your artists in a very tough position. I think the way the public outcry was addressed was abhorrent, I think the lack of apology or formal statement is neglectful and upsetting, and I think that things could have been handled much better. Bottom line, his actions were rewarded. No therapy, even immersion therapy, would encourage him to have been back on that stage. None.
My main point here, Mr. Lyman, is to offer my very real suggestions and thoughts, as your tweet called for. I’m not going to say you suck, I’m not going to tweet passive aggressively…but I also refuse to remain silent. I have a lot to say, and if requested, I will continue this dialogue, provided that it progresses in an open-minded and fully expressed way. If a conversation about this is going to be had, that’s the only way to do it.
We as a scene are simply very tired of feeling that our thoughts and feelings are falling on deaf ears. We are tired of sitting here day after day seeing new issues pop up and then seeing them be dismissed or brushed under the rug. We are tired of inaction, and we are tired of the pushback we face when we call for action.
Kevin, it’s time to change. We need real help, from everyone that is willing to do so. This is not about one person’s plan to help – it is about all of us helping each other restore the safety and integrity this scene once held so close and cherished so greatly.
I thank you for your time, as I know you are an incredibly busy person. Please know that I wrote all of this with the utmost sincerity, and any passive aggressiveness or sarcasm that might be perceived is entirely unintentional. Should you like to continue this discussion, I will most likely be behind the wheel of a Candy Hearts’ van for the rest of the tour
Thank you again, and I hope you take some of what I said to heart.
Andrew Van Buskirk
PS – here’s the link for the full piece I wrote for Babetalk. I hope it accomplishes the goals I set out to achieve with it: http://babetalk.tv/2015/06/15/editorial-we-need-to-change/
Last modified: August 2, 2015