Fame, Ain't It a Bitch in the New Media World? R. Kelly Walks Off HuffPost Live

Controversial singer refuses to answer questions about lyrics and lawsuits, walks off set, shows power of new media.


If you need more evidence that new media—ranging from all sorts of web-based platforms, social-media services, and the like—have radically changed attitudes towards stars, celebrities, politicians, you name it, check out the video snippet above.

It features the controversial and popular singer R. Kelly talking with HuffPost Live host Caroline Modarressy Tehrani (disclosure: I've appeared on her show). When she asks him questions about his sexually explicit lyrics and his fans' ambivalence toward his history of legal issues surrounding statutory rape and sex tapes involving children, Kelly ends the interview.

Whether you like Kelly's music or not, this episode is simply the latest example of how cultural elites and the relatively powerful have been taking it on the chin for much of the 21st century. As with the Snowden leaks, the Sony hack, Lena Dunham's aborted book tour, police-violence videos, and Bill Cosby's hijacking on Twitter, there has been a great (though imperfect!) leveling as discursive power becomes more dispersed and decentralized. This is part and parcel of the Libertarian Moment that is everywhere around us and proceeding apace despite the exaggerated reports of its death.

The world has changed and, despite constant attempts by various old regimes, will not be going back any time soon to its old hierarchy and systems of social, economic, political, and especially cultural control.

When every person has a video camera on their phone and can broadcast their footage to the world, when the price of entering "the media" approaches zero, and when entertainment companies can no longer control the settings and scope of interviews, well, things are bound to get more interesting, aren't they?

Even a few years ago, a star as big as R. Kelly would never have had to consent to an interview with a relatively small-audience outfit as HuffPost Live and he certainly wouldn't have been subjected to the very questions most people wanted him to answer. The same goes for people in all sorts of power positions and it's pretty great, isn't it?

As A.J. Benza used to say, "Fame, ain't it a bitch?" Now more than ever.

NEXT: What the Heck Is the First Amendment Defense Act, and Should We Be Worried?

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  1. “That’s my Robert, always peeing on people.”

  2. One thing I find absolutely fascinating about the increased prominence of cell phone video cameras is the complete lack of UFO videos.

    Back in the 80’s there seemed to be hundreds of fuzzy VHS videos featuring “unexplainable” phenomena. Now that we are literally saturated with video cameras you would think there would be thousands. Instead there are zero.

    Maybe there’s something to that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” after all.

    1. Ah, but with all the Internet-capable smartphones, who even looks up anymore?

      1. Also, one thing I find absolutely fascinating is that with all the increased prominence of internet-capable smartphones, people completely obliviously consume and regurgitate the same bullshit at a greater rate. Yet we still consider it to be one of the most enlightened and enlightening inventions in human history.

        Youtube is replete with modern video footage of all manner of unidentified object, flying and other, but, somehow, a phenomenon that notoriously cropped up around a totem that didn’t actually exist also ceased to exist. Where are all the meta UFO sighting sighting videos?

    2. The aliens simply modified their behavior based upon our technology.

      1. For instance, a number of them are running for president.

    3. Jesse Walker, or maybe Bailey wrote an article about that same question back in the summer. Surveys of UFO research shoe there haven’t been new incidents in 30+ years. The UFO community still pores over the same old 60 year old incidents.

      1. They gave up their quest for intelligent life

  3. “things are bound to get more interesting, aren’t they?”

    That’s what you call a HuffPo hack bugging R.Kelly about his piss-on-teenager video from 13+ years ago?

    The Gawkerfying of mass-media doesn’t really give me a warm-fuzzy, no. I do think there’s plenty of ‘interesting’ stuff out there, its just that you have to swim through an ocean of purifying stupidity to find it. I think most people get tired of this and end up just digesting the garbage, while taking frequent mental showers/delousings/epicac garglings/high-colonics to minimize the shame and disgust. Or not! and they just accept it because they have a pretty low-regard for humanity in the first place.

    1. Gawd, Gilly, you’re such an elitist!

      1. I have also been told that I talk like a fag, and my shit’s all retarded. What year IS this anyway?

        1. … And there was a time in this country, a long time ago, when reading wasn’t just for fags and neither was writing. People wrote books and movies, movies that had stories so you cared whose ass it was and why it was farting, and I believe that time can come again!

          1. My sister was ‘tarded. Now she’s a pilot.

    2. It wasn’t just the video. I can’t find a link, but apparently under the guise of “mentoring” young singers, he has a system for grooming a series of young girls in Chicago.

      1. He also made “Trapped in the Closet“. Verdi aint got shit on R.

    3. I do think there’s plenty of ‘interesting’ stuff out there, its just that you have to swim through an ocean of purifying stupidity to find it

      I read somewhere that ESPN’s main target demographic is 12-18 year olds, and their website shows that to be true. Videos and tweets and clickbait and slideshows are what people seem to want.

      1. They got electrolytes and shit.

  4. What Kelly does is worse than what Cosby was accused of, because the girls are underage. Fuck that guy.

    1. Let’s see. Is doing something “consensual” with an underage girl–because underage girls are incapable of legal consent–worse than violating an adult’s rights–against her express will?

      Why is it necessary to rank them, and why compare Kelly to Cosby?

      1. Racism?


      2. They’re treated in the media, especially the black-oriented media, which I pay some attention to, completely differently. Cosby is a laughing stock, Kelly is still respected.

        1. especially the black-oriented media, which I pay some attention to, completely differently. Cosby is a laughing stock, Kelly is still respected.

          That’s because Kelly never said anything about pound cake.

          1. Yeah, I think Cosby’s rejection of the leftist narrative is the main reason he is treated differently by the media.

            1. I don’t know, I’m going to have to give them a tie. They both have pretty mad game.

              1. The more recent one with the old man who raped women a long time ago is the easier one to be incensed about.

                1. And, of course, the Jell-O pudding.

        2. I suspect that may be because Cosby has been a long time black culture critic–for want of a better term–going back to his Pound Cake Speech.

          I suspect his current problems, people coming out of the woodwork to point out his hypocrisy, could be traced to his public moralizing about the contemporary state of black culture. . . . well, that and maybe actually having done the things he’s accused of.

          Regardless, statutory rape and rape are different enough that I might not compare them to each other–even if they’re both similar in that they’re both sexual crimes and completely reprehensible.

          What R. Kelly did may have been more comparable to Jerry Lee Lewis marrying his 14 year-old cousin, Elvis spending a late night with a 14-year old Priscilla, Ted Nugent making himself the legal guardian of his 17-year old girlfriend–so they could . . . stay together overnight, or Jerry Seinfeld “dating” Shoshana, et. al.

          None of that is to say that what R. Kelly is accused of doing (or the rest of the people I listed) isn’t reprehensible.

          But it’s probably not exactly like the same thing Cosby is accused of.

          What Michael Jackson was accused of doing isn’t just like what Cosby is accused of either–even though what they’re accused of is entirely reprehensible in both cases.

      3. Also in both cases, dozens of women are making accusations. Except with Kelly, they are all underage.

  5. I was right with you until you wrote “this is part and parcel of the Libertarian Moment”.

    “The world has changed and, despite constant attempts by various old regimes, will not be going back any time soon to its old hierarchy and systems of social, economic, political, and especially cultural control.”

    Aren’t the changes you’re talking about despite–rather than becasue of–people’s attitudes towards liberty?

    If social media has given people a voice they didn’t have before, it has also given the government a way to monitor our relationships and communications that they never had before. The reason the NSA didn’t monitor the phone calls of every American before was because it was technologically impossible for them to do so. Once it became technologically possible, that’s what they started doing.

    Likewise, if average Americans are having their voices heard through social media like never before, it isn’t because of some newly found pro-liberty, political and economic convictions they didn’t have before. It’s merely because the technology didn’t exist before.

    Technology isn’t necessarily libertarian. If we’re freer than we were before, it isn’t because it’s now technologically possible for the government to monitor every American’s communications. And the moment when average Americans found out the the government was monitoring their communications–and continued on like they just didn’t care–that moment didn’t feel very libertarian to me.

    1. Presumably the technology could facilitate people organize new orders of civil society, even parallel governmental functions. Reason writers see the potential of technology making government obsolete. They’re cup half full kind of people.

      1. Did you hear the cries last week asking why the government wasn’t proactively monitoring people’s social media accounts for extremism?

        I had this brought to my attention by pro-gun rights people–because why ban “assault weapons” when San Bernardino could have been prevented if only the government were monitoring social media for extremism?

        I appreciate the ability of technology as a tool to let us do things we couldn’t do before, but the technologies we’re talking about can all be used by the government to monitor what we say and think like it never could before.

        The glass isn’t either half empty or half full. It’s both. Technology is a gun. A gun can be used to murder innocent people AND it can be used to defend ourselves against criminals and terrorists. What’s the old trope about how guns don’t kill people–people kill people?

        I guess that’s what I’m trying to say about any technology. The technology itself (like a gun) isn’t libertarian or authoritarian. Libertarianism is people making the decision to respect each other’s rights and freedoms with conviction. It isn’t the force of technology bringing change. The ultimate effects of technology can be authoritarian rather than libertarian. It depends on how people want to use it and how they let the government use it.

        And if the people are blase about how the government is using technology to violate our rights and liberties, then that is not a libertarian moment.

    2. Well, that wasn’t THE Libertarian Moment. It was a different thing.

  6. As A.J. Benza used to say, “Fame, ain’t it a bitch?” Now more than ever.

    Quoting A.J. Benza? *blocks Nick Gillespie*

    1. When I hear R Kelly’s name I immediately think “R Kelly’s doodoo butter.”

      1. I think “I’m going to pee on you, like you know kung fu”.

      2. Haters gonna hate, lovers gonna love
        I don’t even want none of the above
        I’m gonna piss on you

  7. Do you know who else was trapped in the closet?

    1. Several trick-or-treaters who made the mistake of ringing Warty’s doorbell?

    2. E.T.?

    3. Tom Cruise on South Park?

  8. Calling her stupid, then a minute later saying she’s beautiful as he stomped off was pretty “alpha” though. PUAs everywhere are furiously taking notes.

    1. “R Kelly negs web show eye candy like a boss”

    2. This is something you can do only once or twice, after that no artist will want to come to your show. Look at how bland all those late night shows are.

  9. “…Lena Dunham’s aborted book tour,…”

    I think you did something there…

  10. I think she really got him pissed.

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