By Johnnie Wade
The Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly was hard to watch.The six part series documenting Kelly’s alleged abuse of underage women shows that this behavior had been going on forever. In fact, my entire life. And given I was young but I still felt guilty watching the women describe the horrendous abuse that they endured for years. And the fact that through all of this Kelly was one of the biggest artist in the world. Working with all the heavyweights in the industry and providing one of the best soundtrack moments to the crown jewel of 90’s family cinema.
The kind of weird dance of acknowledgement, acceptance and denial that we approach these types of situations with has to reach some type of homeostasis. We’re faced with these moral dilemmas every time a situation like this arises. How do we compromise loving the work of a great talent with the immoral actions of the individual? The question came up with Woody Allen. Then we had to ask ourselves again with Bill Cosby. Now R. Kelly. And tomorrow the HBO documentary, Leaving Neverland, will definitely force many to reconsider their stance on the King of Pop.
R&B and Pop guys are different from the sensitive-progressive-women respecting Indie rockers though right? Wrong! It seems the Indie scene is suffering the same shake up in the post #metoo world. With allegations against several prevalent indie rockers like Ryan Adams, Jesse Lacy and Matt Mondanile. While it’s given rise to several positive advancements in the Indie community, like the newfound emphasis on inclusiveness and diversification. It’s also put a lot of fans in a really awkward position. While some fans are bold enough to suggest that the artist’s personal life shouldn’t affect their art, many have given up on these artist. Recently Adams has to cancel a tour. Mondanile had to cancel a Ducktails’ tour and was forced to leave his band, Real Estate, when the allegations surfaced. Even Chicago’s indie pranksters The Orwells were forced to disband once allegations accusing three of the five members of sexual misconduct found their way to social media. It appears that the indie community may have a zero tolerance stance on this stuff. Which should be the case it situations like these.
I think the Indie community should take pride in the promoters, venues and concert goers in the community. The fact that everyone is able to collectively agree that this type of behavior shouldn’t be tolerated should be seen as a beacon of unity it this otherwise divided world. Already it’s clear that the modern day indie community isn’t going to have situations in which the R. Kellys and Ike Turners of the world are allowed to profit. While I understand the argument of an artist’s work being very different from the idea of an artist’s personal life; I feel these allegations are too serious and damaging to the community to be left unchecked. With artist like Spellling, Vagabon and MorMor indie rock is finally getting a much needed shakedown. One in which gender and race equality will be at the forefront so it’s important for the negative elements of eras gone by be eliminated completely. It’s no longer just a boys club. And like it or not we have to be held responsible for our actions. Years down the line do we want to watch a Jesse Lacey documentary in horror, knowing that we could of done something about it at the time? Or will the indie community dare to be be different?