Will 'Surviving R. Kelly' finally end his career?
The singer is under criminal investigation
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CELEBRITY R. kelly
Following years of accusations, revelations, and allegations—many of which have been largely ignored—R. Kelly is under criminal investigation in Georgia, and it's reportedly all due to the docuseries 'Surviving R. Kelly.'
Directed by Dream Hampton, 'Surviving R. Kelly' chronicles nearly three decades of the R&B singer’s alleged sexual abuse and exploitation of black girls and women from his hometown of Chicago. It administered the visceral shock, paired with the names of alleged victims, that spurred the Fulton County district attorney to begin seriously looking at this case.
The docuseries begins with the singer's early life and his own experiences of childhood sexual assault by a family member, then—through survivor interviews, expert testimonies, and archival footage—paints a portrait of a serial predator over his long music career, one that many people have chosen time and again not to see. But the disturbing and heartbreaking nature of the survivors' stories is impossible to ignore.
Investigators have been reaching out to several survivors featured in the project, TMZ reports, including Asante McGee, who is one of the women who allegedly escaped the singer's home. Investigators have also been asking for contact information from any others who have lived in Kelly's former Atlanta home or have any direct knowledge of what is happening in that home. They were reportedly flooded with calls after the docuseries aired.
This is far from the first effort to cancel Kelly, but it might be the one that really works, seeing as he's continued to enjoy his career thus far despite the many accounts of his alleged abuse. According to The Cut, investigative journalist Jim DeRogatis broke the first major story about Kelly's teenage victims in 2000, and he's continued to write a number of pieces including the 2017 BuzzFeed story, which publicized allegations that Kelly entraps and sexually abuses young women in his home.
There have been accounts published in Rolling Stone, a BBC Three documentary called 'R Kelly: Sex, Girls & Videotapes,' and people (largely black women) have been boycotting the singer ever since the then-27-year-old singer married a 15-year-old Aaliyah—for which his former tour manager and assistant revealed he had forged papers in the 'Survivors' docuseries.
In the previous absence of criminal investigation, the #MuteRKelly movement has encouraged people to stop giving him their money, and they've even succeeded in getting some of his performances in major cities cancelled. The movement rejected the way millions of people still listened to 'Ignition' after the infamous "pee tape" surfaced and the child pornography trial was underway, and they continue to reject the platform he still enjoys.
Though Kelly has made no formal comments as of yet, he released a 19-minute song called 'I admit' last July in response to the numerous allegations against him, taking aim at not only his accusers, but the feminist movement, as well as Jim DeRogatis.
While it's a small success that the investigation is finally underway, The Root magazine reports that Kelly's sales and streams have increased since the airing of the docuseries.
Since the airing of #SurvivingRKelly, R. Kelly's sales and streams have increased.— The Root (@TheRoot) January 7, 2019
People who still support R. Kelly need to realize that a black girl's life is way more important than a couple of hit songs: https://t.co/3Zyfc7h7Bl #MuteRKelly pic.twitter.com/Oer0yeiuSk
It's still horrendously clear that the general public has not treated R. Kelly in the same, swift, indisputable manner as we did Harvey Weinstein, and many think it's largely because the victims are black women. Hopefully the courage it took to create and share 'Surviving R. Kelly,' at the very least, brings light to the deep injustice of our attention.