It's Really Time to Stop Encouraging R. Kelly
Coachella, Bonnaroo and Pitchfork have all booked Kelly to perform in the past year alone.The über-popular dance-pop band Phoenix, which has a sizable underage fan base, even welcomed him onstage for a collaboration at Coachella.
Major artists continue clamoring to work with Kelly, despite the troubling allegations and the singer's asinine levels of misogyny in his music. First it was Jay Z in 2002, right in the midst of the videotape scandal. Then Kanye West in 2012.
Until their duet from her new ARTPOP album, "Do What U Want," Gaga's young fans had probably never heard his name. Kelly had been somewhat stuck in obscurity when it came to tweens and teens during recent years. Earlier '00s hits like "Ignition" were much too long ago to have an impact on kids who are now around the age of Kelly's previous accusers.
Yet now, thanks to mainstream radio play on a pop song, these kids are singing along with R. Kelly's lyrics. We've opened the door for a man who, more likely than not, has some legitimate issues to deal with.
We've also lost sight of the responsibility we have in situations like this. From the artists who worked with him to management to the writers who covered him and fans who bought his records, we should have shut this whole thing down well before the end of the '90s. But we haven't.
Instead, we continue promoting a man who has settled lawsuit after lawsuit brought about by teenagers, all of whom accuse him of inappropriate sexual relationships.
We're writing news stories on R. Kelly's new, overly sexual and more than likely misogynistic album Black Panties. The name alone should clue into the subject matter. We're even writing up bits and pieces on his new "12 Days of Christmas" project, which he's promoted as "a whole lot of lovemaking" Christmas music. This is coming from a man accused of having a penchant for children, time and time again.
It's just gross.
We're still analyzing the contents of his epically long R&B operas, Chocolate Factory, for example, and we're waiting with bated breath for his performances on Saturday Night Live.
We should be pissed that Kelly is still recording music. We should be refusing to give him a platform to speak, and refusing to listen to his "lovemaking" Christmas album. For Christ's sake, the man settled a bunch of lawsuits with children who accused him of abuse.
He shouldn't be famous anymore, and he certainly shouldn't be promoted by the likes of Kanye and Lady Gaga. Come on. Personal responsibility is a thing, even for artists.
These girls were not adults, no matter how sexualized teens are in the media. Yes, they have breasts and asses, and there is video after video of teenage girls engaging in risqué dancing or dressing in skimpy clothing, but they are still not adults.
It's unjustifiable for this man to have a career at this point, and one has to wonder whether if the roles were reversed -- if the alleged victims were of another skin color, another demographic, or if the alleged perpetrator was someone other than R. Kelly -- would there not be more outrage?
They are children. Their brains react like children. Their maturity level is that of children. They are not adults. They cannot consent to having sex with grown men.
For what it's worth, I refuse to write anything further on the subject of R. Kelly. I will not listen to Gaga's collab, or Jay Z's, or Kanye's. The same goes for whatever artist jumps on his bandwagon next. We shouldn't be reinforcing societal ideals that promote abusers, musicians or otherwise.
And even if he were squeaky-clean, sans settled lawsuits or videotapes, I would still be questioning why he's on the radio. Really, his music kind of sucks.
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