Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mixed Tapes: featuring R. Kelly & Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski's 1977 charge of underage sex with Samantha Gailey juxtaposed to R. Kelly's recent charge of sex tapes and pissing, is a collision of idiotic ego based on status rather than the act itself. Kelly's unwillingness to admit his crime, verses Polanski's shameless confession (Samantha Gailey was thirteen at the time, and Polanski, when asked how old he thought Gailey was, replied: "I am aware she was thirteen") is a true understanding of artistic merit. We saw Woody Allen suffer bouts of shame for hooking up with his step daughter. We watched OJ Simpson walk free (only to confess his crime in other ways). We watched Kobe Bryant get dismissed and we witnessed Michael Jackson walk his way into the butt of all jokes (a few months ago Jackson "offered" to share a world tour with Prince; to which Prince, politely declined).

And now we have R. Kelly, complete with die hard proof, in the spot light of high profile shame...and he's pissed off about it.

Polanski, Kelly, Bryant, Allen, and Simpson all benefit from their iconic status. One would wonder about the truth behind the operations of the American justice system. One would also wonder how Americans are able to accept some horrific acts (Polanski; Bryant; Kelly) and be shamed by others (Allen; Clinton; Simpson). In our hearts we know the absurdity; not to mention we understand if that were to be us the "trial" would be more like a quick decision of fate.

These acts are almost acceptable (and in some cases, expected) within the creative world. Artists (basketball and football players, by the way, are not artists) are people who live for what they do; and within this way of life, the "rules" of the world don't apply. It's a truthful contradiction that does not excuse the act, but when one digs into the mind of a creative person it, roughly, makes sense. We trace back to Edgar Allen Poe and the marriage to his cousin. Fyodor Dostoevsky and his endless gambling debts and love for hookers. Louis Carroll and his lust for twelve year olds. Marlon Brando and his bouts of womanizing and homosexual experimentation. These few examples are an indication of the artists mind and how it interprets trouble for inspiration. For an artist must be open minded (despite the possible consequences) in order to continue in a creative form. Artists -- in comparison to the civilian world -- are mentally malfunctioned in a way that sets them apart from your average State Worker. For when a State Worker commits an act of pedophilia and infidelity, that State Worker is pegged to be "stupid." Not that we don't say "Michael Jackson's stupid" or "Woody Allen is a pervert." However a State Worker cannot redeem himself through his innovative filing techniques to gain the respect of his peers. But R. Kelly can piss on a girl, go record the horrific "Trapped In The Closet" and suddenly gain the badge of respect from the public. Despite the fact that Kelly's acts have been glorified jokes, most of his fans say, "He's a rapists, but damn that 'Trapped In The Closet' was the shit!"

The artists has the responsibility of being irresponsible while releasing an interpretation to the world. Granted, there are very few, actual, artists left; but those who are true to who they are (Johnny Depp, Ben Folds, D'Angelo, Mel Gibson) find themselves in deep shit more times than they care to admit. If the artist has no room to live in the world, then they, certainly, cannot be expected to communicate the truth. There are those (Neil LaBute, Tim Robbins, and, at one point, David Mamet) who can interpret the world from a distance without getting their hands dirty. There are also those who get their hands dirty in safer ways (Steven Soderbergh, Sam Sheperd) and still manage to convey a relatable essence to our darker encounters in life's journey towards death. However, there are those (Larry Clarke, Harmony Korin, David Bowie, Sean Penn) who allow themselves to feel the suffering, and in fact, beg for it just for the sake of authenticity. Not to mention there are those who, simply, never grew up. Why? For one to commit themselves, fully, to the life of creativity, requires sacrifice in maturity. One cannot plow the depths of humanity and effectively communicate this without a sense of child-like drive. For it is the child within us that allows the true artist to come to the surface. True creative people are rude, sarcastic, self-involved, high, depressed, atheist, cowardly bastard motherfuckers who will take the death of their own Mother as a source of inspiration rather than a loss. They will drown their sorrows in liquor and dark humor, as oppose to tears of sadness and morbid outcries. They will scream out "FUCK THAT SHIT!" and suffer the humiliation of their drunken verbiage, while shamelessly calling old flings and digging the hole of trouble deeper with no regrets, until they sober up. And even in sobriety, the artist will justify their actions as such: "I am an artist. So I have the right."

This is not the case for R. Kelly.

Kelly's journey to artistic suicide, post pissing, does not fit within the same status as Polanski. Polanski fucked up, but he turned around and made Chinatown, The Pianist, Death and the Maiden, and Oliver Twist. In order for Kelly to reach the point of dismissal, he would have to do far better than Woody Allen's Deconstructing Harry or Match Point. Or even D'Angelo's Brown Sugar and Voodo combined. But Kelly can't do this because he does not own his shitty nature. He pawns it off as a "misunderstanding" rather than a die hard fact of his perversions. An artist who does not like fucking is an artist who has not connected with his/hers true creativity. So it is not unusual that Kelly would have a lust. But Kelly's disorder in thinking he would actually get away with what he has done without embracing the nature he is allegedly blessed with (an artist who can see the act can also see the consequence) is an easy route to a "fuck you."

Kelly feels his crime is fame, not young girls. As a result of this, Kelly tries to maintain the idea of image while sacrificing his creative integrity. Granted, I am not (and never have been) a fan of Kelly -- along side Usher, his music is an example of a "fuck me" soundtrack, that has no intentions beyond carnal collision. However, an artist is born with contradictions. And if the artist refuses to accept them, their level of creativity will be reduced to nothing.


Anthony S. said...

Well said; being as self-involved as I am, I might be considered an artist, especially since I know the consequences of my actions. I like the fact that you do not let Kelly off of the hook for his actions.

I do enjoy reading your posts, old friend, and have read most of your posts up to date. I am going to post more often.

In reference to your theme of analyzing pop culture, per your lense, of course, I am reading a take on pop culture through the path of psychoanalysis, Jacques Lacan-style (written by Slavoj Zizek). It is interesting to find all of these different takes on pop culture.

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About Me

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writer, actor, & producer in training. in 2005, along side my partner in film and best friend since childhood, we produced and executed 3 films. to this day i am still working in "the business" to the best of my abilities and moving forward to the "next level." currently i am producing a film project, co-writing another, awaiting word on a stage play for New York, and pursuing my next one-person show. i'm also in school pursuing my Ph.D in Social Science.