Surviving R Kelly

Clare Bielefeld, MVC copy-editor

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Kelly, a popular R&B artist known for his hit “Ignition (Remix),” has been under the spotlight recently in wake of the new Lifetime documentary “Surviving R Kelly.” The documentary outlines years of sexual abuses and past relationships of the singer/songwriter and sheds light on his rumored misconduct.

For many years now, Kelly has been suspected for statutory rape and even manipulating an abusive sex cult. It is also widely known that the performer, at 27, married a 15 year old girl. Kelly does not have a clean record when it comes to his intimate life, but many did not know the extent to which this reached before the documentary.

In the series, Kelly’s alleged abuses are outlined in detail, but the gist is that he uses his power to manipulate and prey on women. According to the series, he treats his partners, or his victims, in inhumane ways. Victim Asante McGee, who appeared in the documentary, said in an interview, “He uses his talent to prey on women, to abuse us. A regular person on the street couldn’t have gotten away with what he has gotten away with.”

Many are calling for change in reaction to this documentary; however, it does not look likely. For the past two decades, Kelly has been known to have questionable encounters with young women, and nothing has happened. He has been tried before for having sex with underaged girls, but had to no legal consequences. His marriage to famous artist Aaliyah was annulled due to the fact that the marriage license stated her age as 18 when she was only 15. All of this leads many to believe that the documentary will not change any circumstances for the singer, even though the Chicago police are looking into allegations.

“I think that he’s been forced in the spotlight in this same way before,” said Noah Armour, 12. “What will most likely happen is that people will talk about it for a small time, but it will die down once the next big thing happens.”

The fact is that the documentary has shed light on his potential crimes, but not much is expected to change. Lawyers say that even with the evident transgressions, the Kelly case would be hard to prosecute. In these circumstances, manipulation cannot necessarily be called a crime and the issue of free will raises several questions in popular media. Did the women stay with him willingly? If he did not physically trap them, why did they not leave?

On January 13, 2019, The New York Times describes that “Kelly is said to have exhibited almost total control over women who lived or traveled with him, dictating their movements, when they could eat and when they could go to the bathroom.”

This would make it extremely difficult to have a current victim of manipulation testify against Kelly.

Despite all of the attention surrounding Kelly’s alleged wrongdoings, it is evident that he will not suffer many repercussions. Some radio stations have stopped playing his music in light of the allegations, but streaming of his music has actually increased since the allegations were made. This, in addition to the lack of a strong case against him, will nearly ensure the continuation of his record deal with RCA and his continued presence in popular culture.

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