I know you probably don’t want to, but you need to, if you haven’t already, read Buzzfeed’s article yesterday about how R Kelly is allegedly holding several women “against their will” and degrading them for his own sexual perversion. The reporter is Jim DeRogatis who has been covering R Kelly for years and documenting his grossness, his predation, and, if you haven’t already, you also need to read his 2013 interview with the Village Voice. I read it at the time it came out and one quote has always stayed with me, what Jim says has been his major takeaway from this experience:
“The saddest fact I’ve learned is: Nobody matters less to our society than young black women. Nobody.”
And this too:
“Kelly never misbehaved with a single white girl who sued him or that we know of. Mark Anthony Neal, the African-American scholar, makes this point : one white girl in Winnetka and the story would have been different.”
It’s impossible to argue that point. Because, as noted in that Village Voice interview, through his investigation, and over the course of almost 20 years, Jim DeRogatis has offered to share his findings with other journalists. And, up to that point, no one accepted. So he was the one who met with the victims and their families. He was the one who kept promising that he would persist. He’s the one who’s been trying to tell their stories, to bring them justice, even though justice, as we have seen so many times, is a rigged game.
The Buzzfeed piece was explosive and, because of Buzzfeed’s reach, made an immediate impact. Within minutes of its publication yesterday, it was generating headlines everywhere. Everyone was talking about it. So… where do you suppose R Kelly went with his side of the story?
TMZ was the first to publish R Kelly’s denial in an exclusive post with a statement from his rep “unequivocally” rejecting all claims made in the Buzzfeed piece, suggesting that legal action is forthcoming. From a strategic standpoint, TMZ was an obvious choice because TMZ is one of the few sites that can compete with Buzzfeed on traffic and reach. TMZ is also perhaps an obvious choice after last year, when it seemed to be the voice of the men’s right movement during its coverage of the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard divorce, consistently presenting a pro-Depp perspective even though photos and video that strongly supported Amber’s abuse claims were made public.
After publishing R Kelly’s denial, TMZ followed up with another exclusive: an interview with one of his alleged victims, Joycelyn Savage. Joycelyn’s parents spoke with Jim DeRogatis on the record for Buzzfeed about how their daughter has been kept away from them for months, accusing R Kelly of holding her hostage. You can see video of the interview here. And please note that there are certain questions she won’t answer. She also appears to, at certain points of the interview, look up at something or someone, as if for approval – at least that’s the way I’m seeing it. After that though, TMZ came in with yet another R Kelly exclusive, this time about his neighbours, about how they never observed any wrongdoing and would have said something if they did and resent the implication that they “turned a blind eye”.
As Jim DeRogatis has shown us, there’s been a lot of blind eye turning, and it doesn’t start with the neighbours. So if they’re rushing to get in line, they can pack themselves in with the rest of us. The line is long. Because there have been a lot of people who left these girls behind – both within R Kelly’s circle, and the industry and among those who support the music industry. That’s us. As Damon Young wrote at VSB yesterday:
“[R Kelly] hasn’t stopped because he has no incentive to stop. If anything, DeRogatis’s report shows that he’s just become better at it. A craftsmen who surpassed the ten thousand hours of practice master threshold.”
Can R Kelly be stopped? What has to happen for him to be stopped? Or will Jim DeRogatis continue to be the only person playing on the team?
Yours in gossip,