Why you should stop listening to R. Kelly

By Kalyn Story | Print Managing Editor

Last year my new year’s resolution was to try my best to not support credibly accused abusers of any kind. I tried for the entire year to actively rid my life and my media consumption of anyone who has been credibly accused of abuse, violence, sexual misconduct or assault.

This meant no Woody Allen movies, no listening to Chris Brown, R. Kelly, Eminem, etc. I didn’t watch when Addison Russell was up to bat for my beloved Chicago Cubs or when Patrick Kane took the ice for the Chicago Blackhawks. I didn’t watch anything Harvey Weinstein had been apart of, as well as Sean Penn, James Franco, Bill Cosby, Louis C.K., Johnny Depp, etc. In fact I tried to check everything I watched on the website therottenappl.es, where you can put in the name of any movie or TV show and it will tell you if anyone credibly accused of abuse has been apart of it in any way.

There were times I would watch a movie or listen to a song and realize halfway through, or even afterward that there was someone involved in it that I had meant to be avoiding. My friends who knew I was doing this would sometimes tell me about people that I thought were “safe” that they said had been accused of abuse.

It was an extremely eye-opening and sad year for me. One thing I learned was just how prevalent abuse and abusers are in our society and in our media. My resolution was obviously an extreme response to the #metoo movement, and I am by no means saying that everyone should try this or that we shouldn’t consume anything that someone who has been an abuser has been involved in. There is something to be said for separating the art from the person, but I do believe that some actions and behaviors are too egregious to look past for the sake of enjoying their art.

One person that I am continuing to actively avoid even after my 2018 new year’s resolution has concluded is musician R. Kelly. If you are not familiar with R. Kelly, I encourage you to watch the four part documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly” in which women tell their stories of surviving horrific abuse at his hands.

The sexual misconduct allegations against R. Kelly are not new. It’s common knowledge that when Kelly illegally married Aaliyah back in 1994 when she was 15, he was seen having sex with a 14-year-old girl on camera in 2000, and he has been known to hang around high school parking lots looking to meet teen girls. Kelly has settled cases with multiple women over the years who claimed he abused them or preyed on them when they were minors. If that weren’t enough, back in 2008, the singer seemed to need clarification on what “teenage” meant when asked if he liked teenage girls.

It is time, in 2019, in the era of #MeToo, to refuse to be complacent when it comes to abuse — to move on from R. Kelly. He is far from the only celebrity who’s inappropriate and destructive behavior calls for them to be “canceled,” but I can assure you that if you watch “Surviving R. Kelly,” you won’t be able to listen to “Seems Like You’re Ready,” “Bump N’ Grind” or “You Remind Me of My Jeep” without thinking of those women.

If you absolutely must listen to “Remix to Ignition” or “I Believe I Can Fly” then listen on YouTube or some other way that R. Kelly won’t get a dime.