Monday, Lifetime announced two upcoming projects about R. Kelly’s alleged history of sexual abuse.
One is a television move that will explore the singer’s private life and delve into the allegations of sexual misconduct against the singer. The other is a docuseries in which some of Kelly’s survivors and former confidantes will share details about their experiences.
According to Variety both projects are part of the network’s Stop Violence Against Women campaign.
“What we’ve seen—in the last year in particular—is the tremendous power of women’s voices when given the opportunity to share their truth,” said Brie Miranda Bryant, senior vice president of unscripted development and programming. “But there are important stories still untold, stories of bravery, resilience and defiance that demand to be heard. This is one of those stories.”
The still untitled docuseries, is executive produced by Dream Hampton and will provide a “captivating investigation into the controversial superstar.”
For decades women have detailed the emotional, psychological, and physical abuse they’ve reportedly suffered from the singer. Three important women from his inner circle including his spokesperson, Trevian Kutti, entertainment attorney, Linda Mensch, and his assistant, Diana Copeland, have also recently cut ties with him, leaving many to speculate that they couldn’t stomach being complicit in his crimes any longer.
And yet, I can’t help but wonder, Why is Lifetime choosing to do this NOW?
Could this mean that Robert “I believe I can fly” Kelly may actually be making that long overdue appointment with Karma?
Or is this more so a clever market ploy to capitalize on the moment of the #MeToo moment and use that as a seemingly noble way borrow attention from Tarana Burke’s brain child?
Because let’s be honest, Black women being violated by the producer was never enough to get this much tension. In fact the last time Lifetime portrayed his antics on camera during that horrible Aaliyah biopic they almost made his creepy ass into a sympathetic character as if he was the ‘Romeo’ to Aaliyah’s ‘Juliet’.
It wasn’t till White Hollywood co-opted #MeToo and let it soar on the wing of white female tears, that Burke and women of color in general were able to (kinda sorta) wrangle back this movement and re-center it around us. And when that happened, and the Women of Color of Time’s Up subgroup focused on Kelly, then and ONLY then did a man whose allegedly spent the last twenty years abusing sistas finally strike Lifetime as a predator that needs to be called out.
Black trauma always has to be, in some way, sponsored by the white gaze before it gets mainstream attention. This is no different.
Oh and let’s be clear that R Kelly’s primary target has been little black girls. That matters. This isn’t a WOC co-opt moment.
Black women been yelling about R Kelly for decades. #muteRKelly would have been happened were the victims not black girls.
— George M Johnson (@IamGMJohnson) April 30, 2018
The only thing that gives me hope is the involvement of Dream Hampton, who is not only a brilliant writer but also a committed activist. Having her at the helm gives the project a credibility that it would otherwise be lacking.
But once the docuseries starts airing then what?
“Some very brave black women have trusted us with their stories, their truth and their trauma,” Hampton said of the docuseries in a statement. “They are survivors and I’m honored to share their stories with the world.”
That is a beautiful approach and every part of me is choosing to believe it’s true.
But like the old adage goes, “Talk is cheap.”
We can publicly shame Kels all we want and its amazing that the women he’s violated will finally get their moment to speak their truth. There’s validity and value in that.
But as long as he’s free on these streets and still trolling playgrounds and malls in Chicago for his next underage girlfriend, what good does this do?
I dont think white ppl & non-Chicagoans know just how predatory #RKelly is. Dude used to wait outside middle schools and high schools looking for girls to essentially kidnap and have sex with. I dont care how good his music is I cant bear to hear his voice #MuteRKelly
— Christina Pillsbury (@XtinaPills) April 30, 2018
Will the producers be giving this the ‘Dateline’ treatment and use their investigation to seek justice (especially for the women still entrenched in the sex cult)?
Will any part of the proceeds from their ad revenue go towards helping women who have been abused and/or been in domestic violence situations?
Will they be teaming with groups like ‘Women of Color of Time’s Up’ to get this man’s music off the airways?
Trevor Noah recently touched on the seeming invincibility of R Kelly on The Daily Show.
“In the past year, we’ve seen so many powerful men finally being held accountable for abusing women,” he began. “And it shows no signs of stopping. Who knows? They might even get R Kelly this year. He’s been uncatchable for years. He’s like #MeToo’s Bin Laden.”
Unless we’re finally catch Bin Laden I’m at most only cautiously optimistic that this latest wave of anti-R.Kelly outrage will actually amount to much.
I don’t mean to sound cynical, but my patience for exploiting the pain of black people, particularly the pain of black women, JUST for spectacle is at an all time low these days. And I hope this is something Dream and her team keep in mind with their series.
Please don’t stir up our trauma unless you’re offering to be an active part of the solution.
This isn’t just a Lifetime movie, it’s real life.