Lifetime’s six-part documentary series Surviving R. Kelly may not be a fun watch, but it’s a necessary one. Take in interview after interview, every one of them chock full of chilling revelations by R. Kelly’s survivors, coworkers and family members, among others, and eventually it dawns on you that somewhere along the line we, as a nation, dropped the ball in a major way. I know I feel my share of guilt. Why? Because every time I laughed at the Chappelle’s Show “Piss on You” video I inadvertently helped undercut the impact of the very serious crimes of which Kelly was being accused. I’m not shaming anyone. I mean, how could we have known? Anyone with a pulse and half a brain was watching Chappelle’s Show back then, and of course we laughed at most everything we saw. Dave’s hilarious. It doesn’t mean that now, in retrospect, I can’t see how my support of that particular joke (which was just an example), or of Kelly’s music, or of any type of victim shaming, may have helped shift the focus away from the grim realities of the alleged monster we kept inviting into our lives.
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