Which goes to show you how short the Internet's memory is. Because there remains unbelievably strong evidence that R. Kelly is a serial predator, responsible for the statutory rape of dozens of kids who, the inevitable comparison must go, would like his grocery shopping list.
Of course, this is nothing new. Everyone remembers that Chappelle's Show sketch. And many hazily remember the news coverage in 2000. But because the R. Kelly trial came right before 24/7 Internet coverage really boomed, and because R. Kelly is a talented musician who lives a world that is willing to forgive and forget the flaws of many of its most talented musicians, he's gotten off scot-free. He's borderline untouchable now, and he just debuted songs with Bieber and Lady Gaga.
But it's worth revisiting just how fucked-up this dude is. How ridiculously fucked-up he is. The Village Voice did just that yesterday, conducting an interview with Jim DeRogatis, the former Chicago Sun-Times music journalist who first received two videos of the pop star engaging in sexual acts with underage girls. DeRogatis also interviewed dozens of young women who claim Kelly ruined their lives.
DeRogatis' interview is far-ranging, and it touches on the actual allegations—which are underreported and not archived by many websites—as well as what it means for us to basically co-sign Kelly as an artist. It's stomach-churning. And right now, I actually feel kind of horrible for contributing to this R. Kelly complex the Internet has created—where we've all used his hilarious lyrics and Space Jam nostalgia to turn him into a persona, a shamelessly entertaining figure.
Because any non-famous person who did the stuff he did would, and should, be in jail for decades. Here's one fo the worst parts:
The one young woman, who had been 14 or 15 when R. Kelly began a relationship with her, detailed in great length, in her affidavits, a sexual relationship that began at Kenwood Academy: He would go back in the early years of his success and go to Lina McLin's gospel choir class. She's a legend in Chicago, gospel royalty. He would go to her sophomore class and hook up with girls afterward and have sex with them. Sometimes buy them a pair of sneakers. Sometimes just letting them hang out in his presence in the recording studio. She detailed the sexual relationship that she was scarred by. It lasted about one and a half to two years, and then he dumped her and she slit her wrists, tried to kill herself. Other girls were involved. She recruited other girls. He picked up other girls and made them all have sex together. A level of specificity that was pretty disgusting.
Kelly was widely known in the Chicago area for hanging out by high schools. He sat in parking lots and picked up ninth-graders who would walk by. For one of them, he forced an abortion.
There was a young woman that he picked up on the evening of her prom. The relationship lasted a year and a half or two years. Impregnated her, paid for her abortion, had his goons drive her. None of which she wanted. She sued him.
And then there are the videotapes:
The videotapes — and not just one videotape, numerous videotapes. And not Tommy Lee/Pam Anderson, Kardashian fun video. You watch the video for which he was indicted and there is the disembodied look of the rape victim. He orders her to call him Daddy. He urinates in her mouth and instructs her at great length on how to position herself to receive his “gift.” It's a rape that you're watching. So we're not talking about rock star misbehavior, which men or women can do. We're talking about predatory behavior. Their lives were ruined. Read the lawsuits!
Many musicians carry on dickish personal lives, forcing you to look past the man to appreciate the songs. But for Kelly, as DeRogatis reminded the Internet yesterday, the art and the crimes are wholly connected. Horrifying stuff.
[H/T: Village Voice]