'The Daily Show' Takes on R. Kelly Streaming Spike in Wake of Lifetime Docuseries
In light of Lifetime's docuseries Surviving R. Kelly, Trevor Noah spoke about the disgraced singer and the need for a changed perception of him on Monday's episode of The Daily Show.
"The #MeToo movement has exposed many powerful men who have used their positions to get away with sexual assault," began Noah as photos of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Matt Lauer and more high-profile men accused of sexual misconduct appeared onscreen. "But there is one person that has consistently avoided punishment, even as he racked up tons of allegations: R. Kelly. But now that may finally be changing."
Kelly has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault over the past decades. While he has denied the allegations, the new docuseries features many women sharing their stories of his alleged inappropriate behavior. Over the years, he has been accused of domestic abuse and having sex with minors, and he was arrested in 2002 for his alleged involvement in a child pornography tape.
The six-part docuseries is packed with stories and allegations from a number of women, including his ex-wife Andrea Lee, former underage partner Lizzette Martinez and former backup singer Jovante Cunningham.
"R. Kelly has more skeletons in his closest than the Saudi embassy," said Noah. "The new documentary has been getting a lot of attention, but it's resulted in one really strange side effect." A news clip shared that while the documentary was trending on social media, the musician's discography has also spiked on streaming services.
"Just so we're on the same page, America sees this documentary about R. Kelly and underage girls, and now they're consuming more of his music. These are the same people, probably, who ordered more salad when they learned that romaine lettuce was killing people," he said. "They're like, 'Who died? Man, give me a side salad. I know lettuce wouldn’t do that to nobody who didn't deserve it.'"
To further discuss the topic, Noah recruited Daily Show music expert Roy Wood Jr.
"First of all, f--- R. Kelly," said Wood. "There's no way to watch this documentary and still be a fan of this guy, and to be honest, I think the only reason he's been getting away with this as long as he has is because he was doing it to black girls."
He said that Kelly married singer Aaliyah when she was 15 and he was 27. Kelly allegedly forged the legal documents to make Aaliyah appear to be 18. "Nothing happened. If he even thought about marrying that little ball-headed girl from Stranger Things, America would be like, 'I believe you can fly your ass to prison,'" said Wood.
The correspondent added that TV news is not helping people take the allegations against Kelly seriously. For example, a clip from CBS This Morning showed Kelly's "Ignition" music video at the end of a segment.
"You can't talk about R. Kelly's supposed crimes, then play 'Ignition,'" he said. "That song is irresistible. You're sitting there watching the news all angry. 'How could this monster prey on these innocent — oh my God, that's my jam.'"
He pleaded for news broadcasts to just state what Kelly is accused of without playing his music. "Can you imagine how hard it would've been to stay mad at Bill Cosby if every time they reported on his crimes, they did stuff like this," he said before showing news coverage followed by a humorous clip from The Cosby Show.
Noah pointed out that due to Kelly's lasting and successful career, it is difficult to completely avoid his music.
"Maybe for you. I can tell you what I'm going to start doing. Have you seen Bird Box yet?" asked Wood as he tied a blindfold around his eyes. "Bird Box is a movie about a white lady cussing at her kids in a rowboat and from what I learned in this movie is that if you don't want something to get to you, you gotta block it out, right. You gotta block it out. But instead of covering my eyes, I'm gonna start covering my ears, and I'm gonna call it the R. Kelly challenge. That way, people can focus on what he did and not be seduced by his music."
Watch the full clip below:
This article originally appeared in The Hollywood Reporter.