Powerful celebrities like Lady Gaga, JAY-Z, Erykah Badu, Questlove, Mary J. Blige, Lil’ Kim and more turned down the opportunity to speak out against R. Kelly in the new Lifetime documentary, Surviving R. Kelly
The Internet is lambasting the lot, many of whom collaborated with R. Kelly, because they declined to make an appearance in the series.
Lifetime’s six-part series features interviews with women, including Kitti Jones, #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, R&B singer Sparkle and Kelly’s ex-wife Andrea Kelly, who are recanting Kelly’s history of alleged sexual abuse and pedophilia.
The women shed light on how R. Kelly had seemingly gotten away with such decrepit abuse. The only famous person to participate in the special was John Legend. “To everyone telling me how courageous I am for appearing in the doc, it didn’t feel risky at all,” Legend wrote in a Tweet. “I believe these women and don’t give a f–k about protecting a serial child ******. Easy decision.” The Internet wants answers why stars like Gaga and JAY chose to opt out.
The show’s executive producer, dream hampton, speculates that power players like Gaga, who’s publicly spoken out against sexual abuse in the past, decided to pass not because they support R. Kelly, but because the whole thing is a disturbing debacle.
“I mean, most people just don’t want to touch it,” dream hampton said. “I remember [Questlove] was like, ‘I would do anything for you but I can’t do this.’ It’s not because they support him, it’s because it’s so messy and muddy. It’s that turning away that has allowed this to go on.”
Questlove responded hampton’s quote in a since-deleted tweet. “I always thought Kels was trash,” he wrote. “My reason for declining the RKelly docu that I support 10000000 percent is I didn’t wanna be in the ‘good times’ portion of the doc, like stanning for his ‘genius.’ I was asked to talk about his genius. I do not nor have I EVER stanned for him.”
Why are some disgusted with Mother Monster in particular? From what I’ve gathered, they think she’s being hypocritical. Instances like reportedly hoping Katy Perry would put Dr. Luke on blast amidst his sexual assault legal battle with Kesha or even her own harrowing encounters with men in the music industry. There’s confusion why Gaga won’t call out R. Kelly, whom she collaborated with on 2013’s ARTPOP track, “Do What U Want.” Alleged sexual predator Terry Richardson shot the sexually charged music video for the track, but was ultimately not released officially because of the pair’s deviant sexual history. Gaga and R. Kelly also performed the song together on Saturday Night Live and shocked late night viewers when Gaga wrapped her legs around R. Kelly and he did pushups over her body while they sang the suggestive lyrics.
I can empathize with the Internet’s outrage, however I wouldn’t mistake her silence as a means of being complicit.
Appearing in the documentary to condemn him would certainly make an impact, but would that singular act elevate Gaga’s sky-high reputation? Or would having an attachment to the doc bring to light a disturbing set of memories she’s tried letting go of?
I personally don’t share the same sense of anger. Not that there’s ever an appropriate time or place to speak out against an alleged sexual abuser, but why must the responsibility fall on her shoulders? Should she act every time she’s asked to take part in something of this magnitude, or is it better to protect her own mental health by keeping distance.
“I feel like I’ve been an advocate but also a shocked audience member, watching #MeToo happen,” Gaga said in 2018. “I’m still in disbelief. And I’ve never come forward and say who molested me, but I think every person has their own relationship with that kind of trauma.”
She added: “I feel stunned. Or stunted. You know that feeling when you’re on a roller coaster and you’re just about to go down the really steep slope? That fear and the drop in your stomach? My diaphragm seizes up. Then I have a hard time breathing, and my whole body goes into a spasm. And I begin to cry. That’s what it feels like for trauma victims every day, and it’s…miserable. I always say that trauma has a brain. And it works its way into everything that you do.”
Why would someone want to rehash painful memories and simultaneously contribute to someone else’s downfall? And would Gaga’s statements about working with R. Kelly help anything, anyone?
This is an instance where Gaga was damned if she did, damned if she didn’t, and had she gone on the record… it would have done more harm than good.