[Trigger warning: Abuse and assault is talked about in this story. If you or someone you know is struggling in an abusive situation, use the hotlines at the bottom of this page.]
When R. Kelly shows up to play a concert in St. Charles, one should not attend. When a rapper is accused or convicted as an abuser, one should not listen to his or her music any more.
The culture of abuse among celebrities and others in power has gone from outrage to passive acceptance over the years. Instead of boycotting abusers who also happen to be celebrities and/or people in powerful positions, many support the abusers by listening to their music, watching their films, etc.
While an artist’s music might be powerful or have changed one’s life, when an artist is revealed to be allegedly abusive, one must stop supporting him or her at all costs.
An anonymous response to an ECHO poll said, “Although they may produce great art and they may have something to say, they shouldn’t be listened to or watched because that would be giving them respect, which they failed to give those that they abused or assaulted.”
Acceptance of abuse is incredibly dangerous for several reasons. By listening to or watching the accused artists, the consumers support the possible abuse.
R. Kelly has a long list of allegations against him, starting when he forged documents that said his (now deceased) wife, Aaliyah was 18 when they got married, instead, Aaliyah was 15, while Kelly was 27. The allegations range from child pornography to having a cult of women. Amid all these allegations, R. Kelly is still being played on the radio and still performing for crowds of people.
About this, muterkelly.org, an organization that tries to shut down R. Kelly’s concerts said, “By playing him on the radio, R. Kelly stays in our collective consciousness. We think of him when we’re making our playlists… That lets concert promoters know that he’s a viable artist with a fan base that will pay for his tickets. That gets him a paycheck. That paycheck goes to lawyers to fight court cases and pay off victims. Without the money, he’s not able to continue to hide from the justice that awaits him…That makes us all an accomplice to his crimes.”
R. Kelly isn’t the only one who’s still supported throughout his allegations. This increasingly regular occurrence applies to people like Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy (who allegedly abused girlfriend Geneva Ayala), and even to people like Donald Trump (accused of sexually assaulting several women).
Celebrities always have more of a leeway with crime, but when it gets to the point that someone in every single genre of entertainment or politics is accused of abusing someone, it’s gone too far. If celebrities can get away with assault and still get fawned over by fans, then these heinous and inhumane acts may be even more normalized, and abuse will be viewed as insignificant.
Another anonymous poll response said, “It makes abuse and assault seem small and unimportant. By listening to abusive artists, it’s supporting them, their music, and their abuse. They won’t see their terrible act as such because everyone listens to them anyways.”
This can also be dangerous for people who are in an abusive situation. Victims of abuse may see the lack of punishment these artists receive and reflect it on their own situation, making them less likely to come forward.
Brianna H., an advocate from online abuse help page loveisrespect.com, said, “Supporting these public figures, many of whom have engaged in physical or sexual abuse, could increase the feelings of isolation and hopelessness for those experiencing non-physical abuse. They could be more likely to think that if there are no consequences for physical violence, then there is never any hope for their stories of emotional, digital, or financial abuse to be believed or for them to get support.”
About supporting allegedly abusive artists, Brianna said, “Survivors deserve for everyone to support them, not their abusers, regardless of the abuser’s public figure status. Any support of any abuser continues to create both emotionally and physically unsafe spaces and no one deserves to feel unsafe in any interactions, whether of a dating/romantic nature or not.”
Simply put, as one poll response said, “You are supporting an abuser,” while the only person that should be getting supported is the victim of abuse.
Rosa Parks, senior, is a second year ECHO student, and has made contributions to the paper during Journalism and the ECHO newspaper 2017-2018.
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