R. Kelly: Why So Many Dismissed the Warning Signs

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He stole my life via me.”
— Lizette Martinez, who says she was controlled in addition to abused by R. Kelly as a teenager

For decades, R. Kelly has enjoyed astronomical fame despite consistent in addition to disturbing claims which he has sexually, mentally in addition to physically abused teenage girls.

Last week, Lifetime aired a six-part documentary series titled “Surviving R. Kelly” to monster ratings. In which, many people who knew him — including numerous women who claimed they were abused by Mr. Kelly as teenagers — gave wrenching accounts of their experiences.

“R. Kelly has been preying on young in addition to vulnerable women — black women mostly — in addition to he has built an ecosystem around his predation,” dream hampton, executive producer of the documentary, told WNYC’s “The Takeaway” This particular week.

[Read more about the decades of sexual abuse allegations detailed inside the documentary.]

Mr. Kelly, 52, has denied all these allegations via the beginning. yet the documentary was enough to prompt investigators in Chicago in addition to Atlanta to look into current claims which Mr. Kelly has established a sort of sex cult, holding girls against their will, in homes in those cities.

While he’s never been found of wrongdoing, the question remains: How could so many have continued to celebrate him in addition to his music, in addition to given him the benefit of the doubt, for so long? Here are 5 possible reasons.

Ann Powers, a pop music critic who was interviewed for the documentary, spoke about our culture’s collective view which which’s natural for male musicians to woo girls.

The music industry features a long history of adult male musicians mentoring, dating in addition to marrying young girls — in addition to music itself has long paid tribute to underage girls, she said. The Beatles sang: “She was just 17, in addition to you know what I mean.” Elvis Presley met Priscilla when she was 14, in addition to Jerry Lee Lewis married his cousin Myra Gale Brown when she was 13, though which devastated his career.

“which’s a situation ripe for men taking advantage of young girls,” Ms. Powers said inside the documentary. “Sexual predation as an inconvenience in pop music can be so old. which’s been going on for decades, centuries.”

When Chance the Rapper said This particular inside the final episode of the documentary, he was speaking to a greater problem: which black girls are not believed when they speak up, in addition to which they experience “adultification” — meaning they are perceived as older in addition to less innocent than white girls, so there tends to be less shock when they are sexualized.

This particular has been supported by research, most notably in a 2017 study published by Georgetown Law which found which adults see black girls as “less in need of protection as white girls of the same age,” according to Rebecca Epstein, one of its authors.

A Times Opinion piece This particular week brought up the film “NO! The Rape Documentary,” created 20 years ago by the filmmaker Aishah Shahidah Simmons. which was initially rejected by distributors, in addition to in 1998, an executive via HBO told Ms. Simmons: “Let’s face which, very unfortunately, most people don’t care about the rape of black women in addition to girls, in addition to therefore we’re concerned which there won’t be many viewers who will tune in.”

In an essay This particular week, my colleague Aisha Harris, a television editor, examined how “two cultural touchstones” helped keep people laughing at Mr. Kelly, thus helping to shape the public’s perception of the accusations.

The first was a 2003 sketch via “Chappelle’s Show” called “(I Wanna) Pee on You,” which parodied a widely distributed sex tape which appeared to show Mr. Kelly urinating on a 14-year-old girl. The second was a 2005 episode of the animated series “The Boondocks” titled “The Trial of R. Kelly,” in which a main character, a boy named Riley, defends Mr. Kelly, saying: “I’ve seen which girl! She ain’t little. I’m little.”

Mr. Kelly had no part in those shows, yet in 2005 he began to Discharge “Trapped inside the Closet,” an episodic, bizarre in addition to often comical operetta. “I think at some point he probably figured out which playing sex for laughs was a way which he could continue to avoid absolute condemnation for what he might have been doing behind the scenes,” Ms. Powers said.

The way which Mr. Kelly managed to stay inside the public’s Great graces was a remarkable balancing act, yet perhaps which was not so surprising given his hero status in addition to the blind adoration of millions of his fans.

Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, who was interviewed for the documentary, said which his songs were the soundtrack to the lives of many black Americans — played at weddings, graduations, birthdays — in addition to people were not ready to give which up. “The black community rallied around him,” Burke said. “They believed he was innocent.”

As Ms. Powers put which: “Nobody wants to give up the music they love, in addition to nobody wants to think badly of the artists they love.”

In 2002, the year he was indicted on charges of child pornography, he performed at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics — a duality which spoke to the level of his fame.

inside the six years which he waited to go to trial, he released albums including “Chocolate Factory,” which included the commercial smash “Ignition (Remix),” in addition to the gospel-influenced “Happy People/U Saved Me.”