Yeah, If You’re Still An R. Kelly Fan In 2015 You Just Might Be A Worse Person Than R. Kelly » VSB

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Yeah, If You’re Still An R. Kelly Fan In 2015 You Just Might Be A Worse Person Than R. Kelly

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I’m not going to say much about R. Kelly because, at this point, on the last day of November in 2015, there’s not much I can say about R. Kelly that hasn’t already been said. And repeated. And reported on. And recounted through anecdote. And even said by me on this very space two years ago.

With other artists guilty of criminal behavior, there can be a certain cognitive dissonance that can happen when the art and the unseemly acts by the artist have no connection. R. Kelly’s music doesn’t allow for that. His art and his actions are irrevocably linked. They can not be unlinked. It’s like shoes and soles. Or Knick fans and disappointment. He makes crazy, nasty, deviant sex music because he’s a crazy, nasty sex deviant. These are not two separate parts of him.

And also because R. Kelly is who he is. A talented musician — a person actually considered by many to be the most talented contemporary musician — and a man who, for years, used his considerable wealth and influence and status to prey on young Black girls. The word evil isn’t often employed when characterizing him, because using that term to describe someone so popular, talented, charismatic, and handsome seems counterintuitive. Troubled? Maybe. Conflicted? Perhaps. Complicated? Definitely. Evil, however, seems to be taking it too far. But the acts he committed are plainly and patently evil. Shit, while attempting to quantify evil is usually a fool’s errand, there aren’t many evils more evil than a rich and powerful man sexually violating poor and powerless girls. And then vaingloriously teasing us about it because he knows there’s not much we can do about it.

Which is why today, the last day of November in 2015, I can’t help but wonder if fans of R. Kelly today in 2015 just might be evil too. Or, at the very least, evil adjacent. And I’m not talking about the type of fan who might reflexively bounce and nod their head if his music comes on the radio. And might even have “Ignition” on their Game Night Spotify playlist. No, I’m talking about the fans upset that other people dare be disgusted by R. Kelly. The fans still paying hundreds of dollars to attend his shows. The fans who twist themselves into logical origami defending him, still. The fans who still say things like “R. Kelly can still get it” and “Those girls knew what they were doing.” The fans who parade him at concerts and honor him at awards shows. (Including, unfortunately, whoever decided to ask him to appear on stage at the Soul Train Awards.) The fans completely aware of his misdeeds but still completely apathetic to and unaffected by them. The fans — all of them — so enamored with and attached to R. Kelly the artist and his songs about sex that no evil act committed by R. Kelly, the person, matters.

Perhaps evil is too strong of a word to describe someone conscious of it who remains intentionally indifferent to it and arrogant about the indifference. But I can’t think of a better one. So if you can, please do.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • Brooklyn_Bruin

    I don’t really follow R&B too tough. I thought he got acquitted. Or is this like Michael Jackson type case?

    • -h.h.h.-

      uhh, it’s different from MJ.

      essentially, enough people have seen the videotape, believe it’s him, and believe he only got off because he paid the witness/girl to not testify.

    • Brandon Allen

      And there’s the whole marrying Aaliyah at 15 thing…

      • Brooklyn_Bruin

        What? How he do that? Was that legal?

        My Jansport was strapped quite tight back then

    • Agatha Guilluame

      Hey. There was a discussion and a vote and I was selected to proposition you. So, what’s your email?

      • Brooklyn_Bruin

        Proposition me? *raises one eyebrow*

      • Brooklyn_Bruin

        “slide into my DM’s” @brooklyn_bruin:disqus

        • Agatha Guilluame

          I don’t have a Twitter account. Do you mind too terribly putting your email on here and deleting your reply afterwards (although you should remember to delete the content of your reply as opposed to the reply itself).

          • Brooklyn_Bruin

            The streets is watching!

            Marable428 at gmail

            • Agatha Guilluame

              HAHAHAHA! I ain’t even see it!!! This is getting ridiculous. LOL.

              • Brooklyn_Bruin

                Put up a burner gmail. And I’ll hit you up.

  • TeeChantel

    I am genuinely surprised how many women still cape for him. I went to a concert a few years back where he and Alicia Keys performed. I wanted to see Alicia, but R. Kelly appeared on stage and showed out. It was crazy to see the number of women literally going insane for this man. I do wonder how someone like R. Kelly and his past can pretty much be “erased” – and he still has a pretty strong fan base—and someone like Chris Brown will never live down what went down with him and Rihanna. Perhaps it all boils down to an artist’s legacy? I dunno.

    • Val

      I am always deeply disappointed when an artist I like records with him or tours with him.

      • TeeChantel

        So am I.

  • Val

    The worst thing about this is from what I’ve seen on social media, Black women are his biggest fans, supporters and defenders. That I cannot comprehend. And it makes me sad that this is the case. Talk about participating in your own demise.

    • miss t-lee

      I’ve seen it also.

    • Freebird

      Tell it like it is V.

    • My brother brought this point up years ago.

    • Stockholm Syndrome is real. Many black women have been in these situations themselves.

      • I was literally about to type this.

        • We really underestimate trauma we’ve experienced and the psychological effects it has.

          • LMNOP

            And even the physical effects. Have you ever heard of that study of the effects of adverse childhood experiences on adult’s health? There seems to be some pretty solid research on childhood trauma leading to all kinds of diseases.

            • Oh yes. People think that all you need is some prayer and faith but the body reacts in a myriad of ways in order to try and protect itself from further trauma.

          • Amber

            Gloria Steinem said something similar when she was asked about women supporting Trump. Just like men were raised in a patriachal society women too were raised in the same society and it can be difficult to deprogram and see the world for what it is.

            • I’m wholly convinced that women who support Trump are currently in/have been in an abusive relationship.

            • fxd8424

              I agree. Women are just as brainwashed as men. Ain’t nothing wrong with my eyes though. I see it, call it out, and folks look at me like there’s something wrong with me. SMH

      • LMNOP

        I was just about to say that his videos should probably all have hotline numbers on them and maybe end with some kind of PSA.

      • AlwaysCC

        absolutely. everyone talks about teenage pregnancy but fails to mention when teenage boys aren’t the fathers…gestating proof of the crime

        • That’s a societal issue that stems from gender biases. Women/girls are always looked down upon as shiftless s l u t s and men/boys get the whole “boys will be boys” treatment.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            Which is made even worse by the fact that both genders as adults support these biases.

            Everyone here has a male cousin/brother that is young and has had all the aunts and uncles tell them to soak their oats/be a ladies man/have fun with those girls but be careful.

      • this is deep

    • TeeChantel

      I will never understand it.

    • Question

      Real talk, most of the women I’ve heard make excuses for RK also have aintshit sons.

      #jussayin

      • cakes_and_pies

        The “Not my baby” mommas.

    • Guest

      You are a black baby, then you’re a black woman. There’s no girls in our culture. Most of what happens to us people say we welcomed with our behavior.

  • Africameleon

    Yes, Evil is the correct word.

  • Why don’t people like R.Kelly ever get aggressive forms of untreatable cancer?

  • minxbrie

    See, this is how I know the Lord still has me even though we don’t talk, because I turned off the Soul Train Awards after the cypher and finished watching Shrek the Third. Every time R Kelly slinks his disgusting face back into the lime light I feel physically ill. There is nothing you can say to me about his music, his talent that can take away the fact that he is a predator.

    • Jennifer

      I saw the beginning of his number last night and wondered why BET put so many young looking women in that crowd around him. Ugh.

      Then I turned off my TV.

  • Brian Day

    “Logical origami”. That sums it up perfectly, VSB.

  • mnyama

    I see someone needed to do a column before the end of the month to fill their reuired quota….

    • Natalie

      Long time lurker but had to comment: I love R. Kelly’s music and will continue to listen just as much as I still love the cosby show and will watch the reruns. The man vs. the art (IJS)

      • Dee Squared

        Brave woman Natalie…
        Liking Kel’s music is not popular today… **shrugs shoulders**
        I’ll take my cookie and go back to work..

      • mnyama

        I agree. I was implying I really didn’t see a need for the article. The days of being caught, tried and punished are over. There is no redemption. Folks, once they get in trouble, are harassed, vilified and pay for it forever. They are never to redeem themselves, rise from the ashes and move on….they simply pay forever…

  • LMNOP

    My maturity level is probably going to be showing here, but the “famous person” I had the most emotionally confusing reaction to their child abuse allegations was the guy who plays Elmo.

    • Jennifer

      Kevin Clash was cleared of those charges, but who knows? So was R. Kelly. Clash’s career has been pretty much destroyed.

      • AlwaysCC

        from what i understood of that – it was a blackmail type of thing. but the damage was done.

        • LMNOP

          Oh really? That’s good to hear. Like I said, he is the only famous person that I’ve ever felt like “NOO! Please don’t let it be true!”

      • LMNOP

        Usually just an allegation puts someone pretty solidly in my dislike category, but I saw that movie “being elmo” I think it was called, and he seemed like such a nice guy and you know, he’s fvcking ELMO. I was just like, Et tu Elmo? Really?

  • “The fans who still say things like ‘R. Kelly can still get it’ and ‘Those girls knew what they were doing.'”

    That last example is partly why he’s been able to persist for so long, even in the face all evidence that he’s a sick predator. As long as folks believe that “girls are fast” or that it’s hard to tell when it’s a 14-year-old wearing makeup (“She looks older. Tell me she don’t look grown!”), they’ll be all to happy to absolve that man of sick, harmful ways. You tell me that you think a 13- or a 15- or a 17-year-old can “seduce” a grown a s s man, and I’m putting you in the same category as Aruh.

    • Freebird

      “ou tell me that you think a 13- or a 15- or a 17-year-old can “seduce” a grown a s s man, and I’m putting you in the same category as Aruh.”

      Do you like Marvin Gaye?

      • I do not buy that a teenage girl can “seduce” a grown man. It’s excuse-making to suggest, if you ask me, that a 30 year old man simply couldn’t resist a girl half his age. Who’s the adult in that situation?

        As for Marvin Gaye, are you asking as a “Gotcha!”? It’s not clear, but either way, my opinion on that still stands because–again–who’s the adult in the situation? Whether we’re talking about R. Kelly or Marvin Gaye or Woody Allen or Elvis Presley, there’s an imbalance.

        • Freebird

          im not trying to trap you. i don’t cape for kelly. but i don’t run to turn things off when his music comes on. marvin either. or bell big devoe. call me the worse.

          i just wonder where do folks stop dancing and singing along completely. someone we all like is on the wrong side of things. and we will keep listening and watching….unless there is video.

          • Wild Cougar

            Honestly, I don’t believe most of these people raging out for their online audience. They get up and dance when step in the name comes one, they sing along to bump and grind, they nod their head at when a woman’s fed up and shed a tiny tear to I believe I can fly. If there were receipts for this R. Kelly hatred, I would demand them.

            • Nah. I actually don’t.

            • Freebird

              I’m not buying it either.

            • musiclover

              Yea, I agree. I’m really not buying it at all. It’s just one of those things where people want to agree in masses but in a different situation they will dance or sing along to R. Kelly’s music.

          • I get the whole “Your fave is problematic” stuff and wondering where one draws the line. Do I still listen to some Miles Davis knowing what he put Cicely Tyson through? Yes.

            I’m not out here trying to rank ill s h i t, but for *me* knowing that R. Kelly is a predator taints his music for me in such ways that I *do* actually change the station if a song of his comes on. And I *don’t* dance around to his music.

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