MTV had to know what it was getting into when it asked a collection of pop, hip-hop, and R&B stars to comment on why they’re all still so hot to bask in R. Kelly’s inhuman glow with his coming-for-a-half-decade-and-counting trial (possibly) looming. It is a question that has been wrestled with in many thinkpieces about R. over the last five years–as well as personally by yours truly and anyone who remains a fan of America’s nuttiest sex criminal well after the charges first cropped up–and the salient points of many of those essays (Kelly’s pop golden touch keeping him out of a prison jumpsuit, the perennial sexifying of America’s barely legal daughters, what is child porn any damn way?) are all recapped here. But unlike many of those other essays, you know you’re going to get good, crazy quotes from celebs whose finances force them into a position of moral ambiguity. (As writer Jennifer Vineyard points out, “Some artists even jump on the Kelly bandwagon because they don’t want to seem judgmental or risk losing the chance of losing out on a hit single before a verdict is rendered.”) And there were some insights to be gleaned, the biggest of which being that most of the current Billboard Hot 100 thinks child pornography is, like, not really that much of a big deal:
“The way the world works is quick, quick, quick,” Lupe Fiasco said. “We consumed the scandal, and we’re over it. It phased out.”
Which apparently means that outrage now has an expiration date.
“He feels he didn’t do anything wrong, so why should it be any other way?” Swizz Beatz said. “If he did something wrong, then you go into hiding. He’s just making good music.”
To be remembered the next time you commit a crime, either minor or major: If you believe you are in the right, then feel free to violate longstanding societal taboos/petty misdemeanors with impunity.
“People are just like, ‘Eh,’ ” Billboard senior chart manager Raphael George said. “He seems no different than any other celebrity who’s gotten caught up in some kind of scandal.”
So Vanessa Hudgens is as bad as a child pornographer.
“You have to look at it with a microscope and ask, ‘Was this a crime?’ ” Mya said.
Oh, who’s to say? Except for, you know, the Cook County penal code.
And finally there’s Lloyd, with a quasi-nihilistic statement about you, me, and this crazy place called America that perhaps he didn’t really intend as such:
“As long as the music’s strong, that’s all that matters,” Lloyd said. “That’s all that people care about anyway.”