The #MeToo founders weigh in R. Kelly & a popular debate.
As the world watches the R. Kelly ordeal unfold, the individuals behind the #MeToo movement and related allies see the artist's calling to justice as a major win. And recently, the movement's founder Tarama Burke sat down with writer Jamilah Lemieux and reporter Jim DeRogatis to chat about R. Kelly and his ability to utilize music to prey on his victims. In such conversation, the group weighed in on a heavily debated subject: should we separate the music from the artist despite their transgressions? DeRogatis asked Burke the question and emphasized on whether we should be able to enjoy Kelly's music in light of his problematic behaviour.
Burke answered that in listening to the music we somewhat become complicit in the continuation of the abuse because we stream and seek out the music which turns into revenue for the artist. In Kelly's case, a lot of his lyrics and music truly served in his transgressions. He either boasted about it through songs or used music to get to his victims. Separating the art from the artist thus becomes difficult depending on what the art entails. For instance, Cosby can somewhat be removed from the Cosby Show as the series represented family, parenting and middle-class values in a Black household--all of which isn't triggering subject matter. On the other hand, "Age Ain't Nothing But A Number" by R. Kelly is almost insulting considering all of the alleged abuse he was doing at the time.
Burke ended with: "One of those ways is turning off that music and being vocal about why, and make sure that other people know you’re vocal about why because I’m trying to shut down this culture, all right?”