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Commentary: Surviving R. Kelly


By Gary A. Johnson

Wow! This Lifetime TV network’s six hour-long chapters docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly” has generated a lot of conversation on social media. All of us have heard rumors and reports of R. Kelly’s “alleged” abuse of underage girls for years. I guess when it’s put in front of your face it’s more shocking. I tried to “stay on the sidelines” and just read the reaction from social media. Some these view points and positions are just NUTS. I cannot withhold my opinion after reading how some people are attempting to explain and justify R. Kelly’s behavior. Defending Robert Kelly’s behavior in any way is an INDEFENSIBLE POSITION!

I have NEVER supported Robert Kelly. I don’t own one 45, album, CD or download. That’s my choice as a consumer. When I started my online magazine we NEVER supported him on I know we’ve only seen one installment of the series. Two additional hours will premiere tonight at 9pm ET/PT and the final installment of the six-part documentary series will debut on Saturday, at 9pm ET/PT. According to media reports, over 50 people were interviewed for this project. I don’t need to wait for the series to end to come to the following conclusion: There were adults who looked the other way and did not take sufficient action to protect these girls. That is shameful.

The abuse of power and the exploitation of young girls was emotionally gut-wrenching.  R. Kelly used his power to systematically breakdown and exploit young girls.  As the grandfather of 3 little girls, who is very protective, again I ask the question:  “Where were the adults?”  The adults protected Robert Kelly and allowed young teenage girls to be emotionally, physically and sexually abused.  Some of these adults had the nerve to show their faces in the documentary and they seemed to have no remorse.  WTF?

Kelly’s record company and PR folks used to call and email me to get to support his new releases. They would drop off FREE tickets to his shows when he came to DC to entice us to give him some “love.” I never attended one show and I declined to interview him. Again, my choice. I own my media outlet, therefore there was no discussion. I didn’t have to consult with a Board of Directors. I was willing to suffer any negative consequences in terms of loss advertising revenue or a drop in site visitors. My decision was based on COURAGE, which I define as the willingness to act on what you believe to be true. Things that are obvious do not need to be explained.

This series is hard to watch.  I am experiencing a roller-coaster of emotions as I am writing this.  I was uncomfortable watching this series, but I could not turn away.  I’m not sure what that says about me.  Lifetime will broadcast two more episodes tonight, “Sex Tape Scandal” and “The People vs. R. Kelly.”  The docuseries concludes Saturday, January 5th.

This is my opinion.  Get the facts and make your own decision.  Visit the #MuteRKelly website to get the facts

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