So, the death knell is ringing at MuchMusic and everyone is reminiscing about the good old days of music television. Having grown up in the epi-centre of "The Nation's Music Station," my memories zoom back to how I felt being a part of it.
Working at MuchMusic, back in the day, was the job of a lifetime. Imagine being paid to interview famous rock stars, travel the globe reporting on music trends, and having to wear the coolest clothes. That was my life. Well, it was the part you were witness to.
What you didn't see were the bags of rock magazines and CDs I would schlep home from work every day to pour over the latest rock news so I could have something interesting to introduce the day's videos with.
You also didn't see the hate mail I received, mostly from girls telling me how stupid, ugly, and useless I was. There seemed to be a letter-writing campaign to bully me into getting a nose job—every third "fan letter" addressed to me reminded me that with a nose like mine I had no right to be on TV.
That ugly behaviour taught me a lot. It forced me to come to terms with my "imperfections" and place myself in the glare of the public eye with pride. I understood how, in order for some people to feel big, they need to make others feel small. Not to say it stung any less when I opened my hate mail, but it, at least, helped me understand why I was a target. Hey, I know I put myself out in the public eye. I had to deal with what came at me.
I get it. Everyone wanted to be "the girl" on MuchMusic back then. Why was I the lucky one to score the golden gig, right?
I must have slept with the boss. Or, the boss was my father. Or I slept with the boss who was also my father. Yep, I heard it all, behind my back whisperings and insinuations.
I hate to disappoint, but the boss and I never did it.
Could it be possible that I was given the job despite the size of my freakishly large nose, based on my extraordinary drive, hard work, and passion for rock 'n roll? Why is it assumed that women who succeed need to go through the bosses' back door, so to speak.
Fast forward close to thirty years, and I continue to put myself in the public eye. Most recently, I was photographed for a prominent Dove campaign about Age and Beauty. While I smiled confidently for the camera, ironically my old insecurities started bubbling up. While I've learned to master that creeping feeling of embarrassment and self-doubt when the camera is aimed at me, it still feels awful. The mocking from years gone by still makes me self-conscious. I remind myself I am more than the way I look. I have earned my place here.
I come home, wash off the makeup from the photoshoot, and fire up my laptop. Thirty years melt away as I read an email with a link to an online forum posted that day featuring a series of mean-spirited comments written by a group of women using pseudonyms (of course they were).
And I quote
Commenter 1: I never liked Erica Ehm…she got the job because daddy was the boss…she knew 0 about music…I once applied to be one of their bloggers. Guess what? They hired one of her friends. colour me surprise.
Commenter 2: Yup, rumour is she's related to (or slept with) Moses Znaimer who owned Much Music.
This was posted July 3, 2014, twenty years after leaving Much.
The snarking commentators go on to disparage the YMC brand, bloggers, and select staff members. This time the mean girls aren't teenagers who want to be on MuchMusic. Women with children are doing the ugly talk. Did they know I would see it? Probably not. Do they understand they are doing exactly what they tell their kids never to do? Again, I doubt it. It's the same pattern, though. Small-minded girls who need to bring other people down to make themselves feel big.
Why am I writing this? To let those of you with poison pens know your words can hurt. To let you know you that bullying may have been cool in the '80s, but this century it's not in style.
RIP MuchMusic. You made me who I am today. Smart, strong, and still a little bit rock'n roll.
*Waves hi to Moses*