Lifetime recently debuted a documentary series on 90s R&B singer R. Kelly. The documentary, entitled “Surviving R. Kelly,” begins with details about the difficult and abusive childhood the star experienced. As the documentary progresses, we see Robert “R.” Kelly’s journey to the top, and the tumble back down to the depths of what he climbed out of.
In the documentary, we see early warning signs of his behavior. His high school music teacher notices the excessive explicit language Kelly uses when writing his songs. Then, later on, we learn about the underage relationship between R. Kelly and the late R&B singer, Aaliyah. Kelly’s manager introduces the two when she’s only 12, and Kelly goes on to produce Aaliyah’s first number one hit, “Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number.” The two get secretly married when Aaliyah is a mere 14, but her parents later have the marriage annulled when they discover it.
The documentary goes into more details about Robert and who he was behind closed doors. Ex-wife Andrea makes a major point in the documentary:
“No offense, but he can’t read. He has ‘yes men’ all around him. And I believe the only reason you don’t see the authorities involved in this is that he has people on the inside.”
Kelly picks girls based on age, not race. Aaliyah, for example, was just 12 years old. The younger the better, because he can and did easily manipulate people. These manipulation tactics are clearly shown throughout the documentary, especially as graphic details begin to build further. Starvation and confinement, as well as verbal, mental, emotional, and physical abuse all took place.
Why isn’t this being looked into as more than allegations on television?
How did our justice system become one based on cherry-picking, rather than the balanced justice we claims to have? We’re seeing the system slowly disintegrate based on allegations instead of proof and evidence. Then, when the proof is finally recognized by those in positions to uphold justice, it comes across as either one of two things: dismissal or extreme, almost unjust punishment.
This documentary brings to light that we need to do a better job of persecuting those who commit sexual acts against others, especially children and young adults. I firmly believe that nobody who commits crimes of a sexual nature against someone underage deserves a second lease on life. And even if we believe that they will receive their justice in the after life, that doesn’t mean that our legal system shouldn’t be working hard to put these criminals away and hold fair trials.
It’s clear that R. Kelly had issues, but the fact that he got away with so much is beyond eye opening. We need to be more aware of celebrities just as much as everyday people on the street. You never know who has skeletons in their closet; you never know who is safe anymore.
Want to check out the documentary? You can stream episodes of “Surviving R. Kelly” straight from Lifetime.