Tough Call

I’ve been watching bits of the Surviving R Kelly Series and for those who don’t know, they’re accounts of multiple women accusing the Singer of sexual assault, with several saying they were teenagers when they first had sex with him.

There have always been rumours that he runs a Sex Cult and his obsession with young girls. In fact, he was arrested several years ago after a sex tape leaked with him doing things I’d rather not repeat here to a minor but he was acquitted of all rape and child abuse charges.

He continues to deny any wrongdoing and some believe he’s innocent. I believe the women. I don’t think many girls would make up the abuse claims.

Plus, his own ex-wife has a story of her own. For years, there have been attempts to “punish” R Kelly with calls for fans to stop listening to his music and radio stations and streaming services to stop playing it.

In the US, the debate is whether fans should separate the artiste from the abuser, with some people saying the allegations are too serious to ignore and it doesn’t and shouldn’t matter how talented or great an artiste he is.

If they mess up, they should face the consequences even if that means an end to their careers which they clearly didn’t think about in the first place. Others say you can’t just “unlike” the art and that continuing to listen to the songs doesn’t mean you condone his pedophilia.

I’m conflicted too. I’m not a die-hard R Kelly fan but the man has some great hits, ironically including inspirational ones like Victory and The Storm is Over and you just can’t help but sing along.

To borrow his lyrics, “my mind is telling me no, but his music is telling me yes” and I understand why his Fans would feel torn. Would I pay to watch him perform today though?

Probably not but there’re some people who don’t care and that’s the problem.

It happens with athletes too.

Several NBA and football players have been accused of sexual misconduct and even rape but because we put these Stars on pedestals, we don’t want to believe that they committed such despicable acts and so the allegations are dismissed and some Fans actually go after the purported victims, calling them liars or groupies which only adds to their distress.

Plus, there’s a tendency for people to want to protect their own. In R Kelly’s case, black people don’t want to be seen to be throwing one of their own under the bus but the thing is, most of his victims are black women.

And as typically happens in similar cases, some are asking why the girls didn’t call the police if they felt they were being abused. I think that’s an excuse many abusers are quick to use but you have to remember that sometimes people are naïve or simply don’t have a choice.

As the #MeTooMovement has so clearly exposed, you have powerful men promising desperate girls careers in exchange for sex.

Some of R Kelly’s victims say they had only gone for an audition and before they knew it, they were being propositioned and filmed without their consent. It’s disturbing. He has threatened to sue the accusers and filmmakers.

At 52 years old, I think he should do better. Own up to his mistakes and get the help needs.