As a result of the controversial and condemning Surviving R. Kelly mini-series, many are calling for action, some find hope, and others reflect. Despite pressure from R. Kelly‘s legal team who reportedly threatened to sue Lifetime for running the documentary, the network aired the chilling series which highlighted a myriad of child pornography allegations made against the mercurial singer dating back to the early ’90s.
Surviving R. Kelly features more than 50 testimonies from journalists, family members, fellow musicians and associates within (Robert) Kelly’s inner circle who came forward to share their experiences. Plagued by claims of abuse throughout his career, the “Bump n’ Grind” singer firmly denies any wrongdoing and has not (yet) been convicted in a court of law.
Following the series’ early January-release, community leaders reinforced efforts to ban the Chicago native’s music from the airwaves. Attempts were fruitful in Los Angeles as the local Radio FREE 102.3 KJLH (owned by Stevie Wonder) stopped playing Kelly’s music in 2018 after additional allegations against the artist surfaced. Activists have now taken aim at mega syndicators’ iHeartRadio and Radio One, pleading for the networks to abstain from promoting his songs.
Executive producer, Brie Miranda Bryant said in a statement that what was created has started a more serious dialogue about abuse and misconduct inside and outside of the entertainment industry:
“What I think is moving about it is that it’s not something that just lived within the hours [it aired]; it’s something that became larger than that and sort of embedded itself into creating a national conversation,” Bryant told Billboard. “So, for us as a team, it’s been an unbelievable privilege to have created content that impacts culture and says something after the hour is over. And I think as a nation we’re now recognizing that the impact that content can have on culture is extremely powerful and/or healing. I think where we are right now, it feels refreshing.”
For celebrities, reactions are mixed, with many confused and angry in the aftermath. Jada Pinkett Smith questioned why Kelly’s music sales have seen an uptick since the doc aired, while 6LACK, Ne-Yo, John Legend, Meek Mill and more have condemned the singer, using their voices to try and #MuteKelly based off of the accusations.