R. Kelly gave an emotional and explosive talk, defending his innocence in his first interview since being charged with sexual abuse.
If there was any question about the kind of person R. Kelly is versus the man he claims to be, viewers got a full display of his delusions during his interview with Gayle King on Wednesday’s “CBS This Morning.”
This was the interview that followers of the R. Kelly case had long been waiting for, with Wednesday’s sit-down marking the first time the singer has addressed the claims against him since the premiere of Lifetime’s explosive “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary and the singer’s subsequent arrest on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
Kelly’s showing was about as despicable as they come, giving viewers a glimpse inside the narcissism-crazed mind of a man that, despite the overwhelming evidence against him and scores of credible accounts of his abuses, has never been convicted of a crime and truly seems to internalize that he did nothing wrong.
And through it all, Kelly delivered several minutes of can’t-look-away television that reminded viewers, particularly ones who’d been fans of his in the past, of his transfixing powers as a performer.
Kelly didn’t just plead innocent. He delivered drama. He served up emotion. He mugged to the cameras in a gross display of showmanship, asking King which shot was fixed on him.
“Is this my camera?” he asked King mid-rant, before turning and addressing viewers directly, asking them to “use your common sense” while also claiming that the charges against him are all one big conspiracy.
Any viewer with common sense probably shook their head when Kelly argued that he was immune to scrutiny over his past alleged crimes, “because, for one, I beat my case, and when you beat it you beat it.”
“You can’t double-jeopardy me like that, it’s not fair,” he said, displaying both a total misunderstanding of the law and a chilling lack of empathy for the women who maintain that Kelly’s past crimes almost ruined their lives. As he elaborated in the interview, he sees his alleged victims as either jealous exes or money-hungry grifters, against whom he’s “fighting for my life” as the sole victim of this saga.
The interview soon devolved into a full-blown temper tantrum, as Kelly stood, gesticulated, screamed and cried, while King sat still and calm, a reminder of who the real adult in the room was. In a play for viewers’ sympathies, Kelly invoked his family, yelling how he just wanted to see his kids — a disingenuous statement, considering his daughter Joann, who changed her name to Buku Abi to distance herself from the Kelly name, recently shared that she and her siblings haven’t spoken to their “monster” father in “years.”
Later Wednesday, CBS News announced it will broadcast King’s interview with Kelly and another one with two women who live with him, Azriel Clary and Joycelyn Savage, as a one-hour primetime special Friday (8 EST/PST). The special will include previously unaired segments of King’s 80-minute interview with the embattled singer.
The interview: R. Kelly screams and cries as he claims he’s innocent
The reaction: Gayle King praised on Twitter for keeping calm
Perhaps Kelly hoped his waterworks would bring the interview to a close, as did a similar fit on HuffPost Live during one of his most recent on-camera appearances in 2015. But the interview continued, only for Kelly to reveal his shocking response to the parents of Azriel Clary and Joycelyn Savage, who have waged a public battle with Kelly claiming he brainwashed their daughters and are isolating them from their families.
This part of the interview played out almost like a scene from one of his “Trapped in the Closet” installments, as he spun together quotable lines – “There are older men that like younger women, there are younger women who like older men, I’m just an older man who likes all women” – with storylines about how the Clary and Savage families “sold” their daughters to him by bringing them to his concerts and begging him to have sex with them before revolting after he stopped paying them money.
Kelly knows the entertainment value in telling these kinds of wild-sounding stories, that they’re part of his appeal as much as his heartfelt pleas for innocence. That’s why so many fans fell in love with Kelly in the first place, for the theatrics, for his oversized personality that balanced the more lascivious elements of his persona – the “Bump ‘N Grind” R. Kelly – with his sincere and emotional side, the “I Believe I Can Fly” R. Kelly.
But, after 20 years of Kelly using these same tactics to mislead fans and redirect attention away from his alleged crimes, reality has finally caught up with him. Kelly had an opportunity during Wednesday morning’s interview to show at least some remorse for the pain he’s caused his victims. Instead, viewers just got the same song and dance, and it’s never been more disgusting to watch than it is now.
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