Americans are a forgiving people, especially when it comes to celebrities. You can go to jail, murder a man, break the law and double back for more, and yet in the end we will readily welcome you back into the fold of celebrity with an apology and a meager explanation.
Is there anything we won’t forgive? Any length that our celebrities and entertainers can go to which we will realize that forgiving their trespasses isn’t a requirement, and even if forgiven, that doesn’t necessarily mean they should be returned to the thrown of wealth and fame.
Like R. Kelly for example. Allegedly caught urinating on a 14-year-old girl in a sex tape that surfaced in 2002, the R&B superstar was exonerated by a jury of his peers six years later, thanks to a defense that boiled down to “it wasn’t me.”
Kudos to Kelly’s very talented lawyers to pulling off that one. Under our judicial system Kelly is an innocent man and should be able to continue life as such. And yet when I see him working the late night talk show circuit, promoting his new album Love Letter it doesn’t sit well with me. Why are we still supporting R. Kelly?
R. Kelly basically implicates himself in regards to his young girl fixation. Remember how he married Aaliyah at the ripe age of 15? Even with the innocent verdict in Illinois, there still were more child pornography charges brought against him in 2003, though they were dismissed due to lack of probable cause for the search warrant.
However the icing on the cake was Kelly’s first post-trial interview in 2008. When asked if he liked teenage girls, Kelly replied, “When you say teenage, how old are we talking?”
Where there is smoke, R. Kelly has revealed himself to be the fire. I get that the guy is a free man, but does he deserve to return to his career? Would we treat Kelly differently if he weren’t famous? What if his alleged victims were boys instead of girls?
No doubt Kelly is getting the celebrity treatment. If he was plain old Robert Kelly from the local gas station, a brother wouldn’t be able to pick up a penny without being called a pervert. We’ve always been more forgiving of celebrities because we focus on their talent. Who cares about that pesky child porn thing, his music is great! No one likes to think about the fact that supporting an artist’s career gives them more money to do indulge in their seedy and illegal hobbies. When it comes to bad habits, fans can be the most dangerous enablers.
Kelly also receives the bias of gender with his victims. If R. Kelly’s tape had featured a young boy, it would have been all over for the guy, word to Bishop Eddie Long. Long doesn’t have half the public evidence that Kelly did, only a few suspect photos, and yet public opinion has already locked him up and thrown away the key.
Even when we boil down the accusations to a bare minimum violation, infidelity, even there R. Kelly gets another gender advantage. The excuse for him – he’s just a man, and he’s a celebrity, so go figure. Men cheat, it’s in their nature. But when Fantasia Barrino sleeps with a married man? Homewrecker for sure.
R. Kelly had money, fame and plenty of bias on his side. You can’t deny his talent, but along with that talent comes a troubled past and questionable reputation. He calls himself the “Pied Piper of R&B” — mind you the original legendary Pied Piper was a man who lured the children away from town. R. Kelly is a free man, but maybe he should just do us all a favor, count his blessings and lay low. A few decent songs isn’t worth the risk.