Last night as I watched the Oscars, and saw the black excellence of Black Panther and Regina King and Spike Lee Mahershala Ali, I couldn’t help thinking of R. Kelly.
Even in the pageantry of entertainment, where everything glitters as if it’s gold, there’s an ugly underbelly. It’s a place where the borrowed clothes have to be returned, where the glitter turns to rust, where the money that seems to flow endlessly is simply an illusion.
And in that world, where some can navigate between fantasy and reality, there are some who get lost in it all. And not only do they lose themselves. They drag others down with them.
Kelly looks to be one of the lost ones. The covers have been snatched off the fantasy, and all that’s left is the ugliness underneath.
After years of being accused of sexually assaulting young girls, R. Kelly has been indicted on 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse against four victims. Three of them would have been underage at the time of the alleged crimes.
Kelly was jailed on 1 million dollars bond on Saturday and needed 10 percent of that to get out of jail.
As of Sunday afternoon, he didn’t have it.
After decades of work, after a string of hits, after being at the top of the R&B game for so long, R. Kelly was unable to pay $100,000 to get out of jail.
Reports say the artist owed nearly $170,000 in child support, and that he also owed back rent. But it was the words of his lawyer that struck me.
Steve Greenberg, who’s representing Kelly, said the singer “really doesn’t have any money at this point” because of “mismanagement,” “hangers-on” and “bad deals.”
Maybe his lawyer is right, and it’s about the bad deals. Or maybe, just maybe, reality has finally caught up with the fantasy that R. Kelly has lived for so long.
If the charges leveled against him in the documentary, “Surviving R. Kelly” are true, the singer has much to answer for. Young women whose lives were ruined, families that were torn apart, and crimes for which he was never punished.
It’s sad that in this moment, when it all comes crashing down, the man who spent so much time at the top of the charts is now at the bottom of the barrel.
And there’s a lesson in it for all of us. We must live our lives with humility. We must treat each other with dignity. Because at some point, the fantasy will end, and all that’s left is the consequences.