Why Celebrities Like R. Kelly Avoid ‘Canceling Culture’ For Decades
In 2017, Atlanta residents Oronike Odeleye and Kenyette Tisha Barnes launched a campaign they called “#MuteRKelly”. Because several women had accused the R&B megastar of sexual misconduct and lashing out at underage girls, the two founders of the movement demanded that arenas stop booking Kelly for concerts and that radio stations and services streams stop playing their songs. (Kelly, real name Robert Kelly, denies any wrongdoing.)
Throughout his career, women quite regularly accused Kelly of having sexually assaulted them.
They have won important victories; the campaign’s website lists concerts that have been canceled and radio stations that have removed Kelly’s songs from the rotation. But according to a New York Times report, 5.2 million Spotify users listen to her music every month, and she remains popular on YouTube.
Among those filed against all the celebrities involved in the #MeToo era, the allegations against Kelly are particularly egregious and her alleged crime has been kept on tape. In a 2008 trial, Chicago prosecutors presented what they said was video evidence of Kelly’s sexual abuse and urination of a 14-year-old girl, but her hometown jury found it. acquitted.
Throughout his career, women quite regularly accused Kelly of having sexually assaulted them; he denied all the allegations. But fame is a powerful force – because as a society we are loath to give up the music and musicians we associate with freshman parties and our forays into love and sex, it took an effort. supported to make Kelly the semi-outcast who he is.
The disgust for Kelly didn’t seem to reach critical mass until January 2019, when writer and filmmaker Dream Hampton released “Surviving R. Kelly,” which gave women who reported being victimized by the star the opportunity to tell their stories. .
For more than a quarter of a century, Kelly has denied any wrongdoing. But he also spent this time winking at illicit desires.
Kelly is on trial in a courtroom in Brooklyn, New York, accused by federal prosecutors of being the head of a criminal enterprise that kidnapped and sexually exploited women and girls and subjected them to forced labor. Separately, Kelly faces multiple charges of assault and sexual abuse in Illinois.
For more than a quarter of a century, Kelly has denied any wrongdoing. But he also spent this time winking at illicit desires. It was 27 years ago, in the spring of 1994, when he introduced the world to teenage R&B phenomenon Aaliyah, writing and producing her debut album and appearing on the cover with her.
You remember the name of this album, don’t you? “Age is nothing more than a number.” Later that year, Vibe magazine ran an article alleging that Kelly, then 27, had secretly married Aaliyah, then 15.
Years later, as more women sued him accusing him of sexually assaulting them as minors and even as Chicago prosecutors tried unsuccessfully to persuade a jury to do so. convicted of creating pornography with a 14-year-old, Kelly became known as the “R&B Pied Piper”.
Despite the widely known claim that he had married a child, despite a hugely popular bootleg from the videotape which prosecutors said showed Kelly abusing a child, despite his adoption of a nickname alluding to a musician which draws children away from their homes and to their ruin, R Kelly has remained popular and has continued to be reserved.
Barnes, co-creator of #MuteRKelly, told The New York Times that despite her streaming popularity, Kelly is “on life support as an artist.” She also said that “it took 30 years to bring her to this level.”
People who speak out against what they call “canceling the culture” would have you believe that “canceling” a celebrity is easy and instant. Kelly’s longevity says otherwise.