What I Took From the R. Kelly "Interview"

I have been following the R. Kelly case for a while now and have become even more interested in it ever since the release of Surviving R. Kelly. Throughout the allegations laid against him, R. Kelly has adamantly denied any sexual involvement with underage girls and any abuse despite many victim and witness accounts of his behaviour.

Back in February, supporters of the victims were surprised and happy to see that Kelly was indicted on 10 counts of aggravated sexual assault and abuse against four victims, something that would not have happened without the Surviving R. Kelly docuseries. However, despite turning himself in, his attorney claims that all the women who have spoken up were liars and that Kelly was an innocent man. Throughout intense media coverage of his arrest (and the rather amusing fact that he couldn’t even post bail), Kelly stayed rather silent on the matter.

However, on March 5th, the world was able to fully hear his side of the story. Kelly sat with Gayle King of CBS This Morning to talk about all the allegations and charges laid against him. Although some people refused to watch the interview because they didn’t like how CBS gave Kelly a platform, I took some time to watch it carefully and here are some of the things I took from it.

To avoid any spoilers, you can watch the interview here.

 

R. Kelly denies that he has ever abused women and underage girls sexually or physically, and has never held anyone captive against their will.

From the beginning, King asks Kelly if he has ever slept with anyone underage, and even before she can finish her sentence, he hits her with a series of “no”’s and “absolutely not”’s. Gayle was quick to say that was hard to believe. Why? There have been a surplus of women spanning over two decades who have come forward about the abuse they had to withstand at the hands of Kelly, and it is definitely hard to believe that all these women, who all share similar stories, are all blatant liars.

In terms of holding women captive, many women in the documentary recount series of experiences with Kelly that are closely in tune with each other, such as always having to ask permission to do anything in his household, even using the bathroom. Although he may not have been keeping them with a ball and chain, this type of control would definitely make someone feel like they are being held captive, which is something Kelly doesn’t seem to understand. When asked about this, Kelly’s response was, “I am not a controlling person. I’m just in control of my household.”

 

The two women that are with R. Kelly right now seem… weird.

The two women in question, Azriel Clary and Joycelyn Savage, were also interviewed by King. They both defended Kelly and got very heated over allegations that they were brainwashed or being held against their will. They have cut all ties with their families, which they claim was a choice they made by themselves.

What I found most strange about them was their behaviour. Their case for Kelly seemed too rehearsed to be real, and although Azriel was the one who often flared up and at one point broke down into tears, I still couldn’t fully believe that nothing was wrong with them and they were completely fine.

First, Clary lets it slip that she had known Kelly for five years. She is now twenty-one years old, which means she has been with Kelly since she was sixteen years old. Being with a person for that long, especially someone of power like Kelly who had the keys to her future as a singer, would definitely get to your head. Even if we take Kelly’s word for it and say he never had sexual relations with Clary when she was underage, I find it strange that they would be in a “healthy relationship” when she is only twenty-one. To me, it feels very much like a grooming situation, especially since she has been cut off from her family for years and has only been with Kelly and his entourage for all this time.

Savage, who was mostly quiet during the interview, felt more robotic than Clary. She would only say things like “we are both in a very healthy relationship with him” and add things to whatever Clary was saying. There is also a scene that shows Savage on the phone with her family, in which she only said she was happy where she was and ended the call abruptly.

One huge factor in this so-called “interview” was that Kelly was allowed to stay in the room when the girls were being interviewed, which I think was a huge mistake on CBS’s part if they wanted to get to the truth.

 

The girls and R. Kelly claim their parents sold them to him.

This was definitely a shocker for me and many other people who watched the interview, but I can say I was not surprised that they took this angle. While crying, Clary claims that her parents pushed her to have sex with Kelly when she was seventeen in order to secure a recording deal and money from him, which greatly contradicts Kelly’s claim that he’s never had sex with underage girls. But okay. Moving on.

Savage, who hasn’t really said much, just nods as if implying the same thing happened to her. The girls both use this to explain why they haven’t seen or spoken to their families for years. When King questioned Kelly about this, he said, “What kind of father, what kind of mother, will sell their daughter to a man? How come it was okay for me to see them until they wasn’t getting no money from me?”

This puts more holes in Kelly’s claims that he had no sexual relationship with underage girls, and he doesn’t really mend that throughout the entire interview. At this point, Kelly’s whole facade as the victimized artist seems to crack.

 

R. Kelly blows up.

A really popular scene in the interview features Kelly rising from his chair, shouting at the camera and over King, who sits calmly. This explosive feature is something that damns him the most. His actions are violent in a way and had a lot of people scared for King’s safety. He is also shouting things like “I’m fighting for my life” and “they lying on me” over and over to the point where he resembled a toddler having a tantrum.

It’s kind of like when a kid is confronted about something they did, and while knowing they will get in trouble if they admit it, proceed to put on a whole show of how innocent they are. It could also be just Kelly reaching his breaking point, as suggested in the interview, and a moment where he realized he wasn’t going off easy like he did years ago. Either way, I found this scene very funny and a definitive view of who Kelly really is.

Gayle King made my life.

Just a bit of a tangent here, but Gayle King’s no bullshit approach to Kelly made this interview so much better. She is mostly praised for keeping her composure throughout, especially when Kelly exploded, but my favourites are some of the I-know-you-lying comments she makes at Kelly, including, “It sounds like you think you’re the victim” and when Kelly says he wants to tell her the truth, she responds, “I wish you would.”

R. Kelly believes he’ll be able to get out of this.

One thing that stuck with me the most was when Kelly said, “I’m gonna come out of this like I did before.” It was this very line, along with other things, that showed me Kelly wasn’t remorseful in any way and didn’t care one bit about the women he hurt. To him, all this is going to blow over like it did years before and he will be back to making music and doing what he does best. The only thing I can say about that is I hope we do not give him the opportunity to.

 

There were many other things addressed in the interview that were strange and blatantly stupid, but these were the ones that stood out to me the most. Theatrics aside, I think Kelly is definitely feeling the heat of this entire situation, as he should, and I feel it is about time that we stop him for good. Although the girls that are with him now may not want to leave, those who have survived decades of abuse have spoken up and they deserve justice too. Years of allegations and claims against Kelly have brought him to this point, and his blatant lies during the interview will surely bring him under. Hopefully we will now pay attention and take action unlike we’ve done before and finally put an end to this.

 

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