The reviews are in: Motown and Hollywood are head over heels for
two men with unabashed penchants for young girls.
R. Kelly, an R&B singer out on bail for 21 counts of statutory
rape and child pornography, topped the music charts this month with his new
sex-drenched album, "Chocolate Factory." Motown Records President Kedar
Massenburg recently gloated to the Associated Press: "He's probably more
popular now than during 'I Believe I Can Fly'" (a reference to Kelly's
breakout 1996 single).
Roman Polanski, the fugitive bail-jumper and convicted felon who
pled guilty to forcing a 13-year-old girl to have sex with him in Jack
Nicholson's hot tub nearly three decades ago, recently garnered seven Oscar
nominations for his latest film, "The Pianist." The victim herself now says
she has no "hard feelings" and is joining the chorus of Polanski supporters
urging Academy Award judges to "judge the movie, not the man."
Sorry, no can do. These famous Lotharios are unrepentant and
living large, and the message to young girls is loud and clear: Pedophilic
celebrities are above the law.
Kelly, who appeared in a widely circulated videotape in which he
allegedly engaged in sexual acts with a 13-year-old girl, is famous for his
pop gospel tunes and raunchy anthems ("Sex Me," "Your Body's Calling," "Bump
'N' Grind," and "You Remind Me of Something" -- e.g., "You remind me of my
Jeep, I wanna ride it.")
Kelly was briefly married to the late singer/actress Aaliyah,
when she was 15 years old. (He titled her debut album, "Age Ain't Nothing
but a Number.") Last month, he was arrested in Florida on an additional 12
counts of child pornography. But the critical raves and commercial success
Reviewers have deemed Kelly's new album "creepy" but
"well-crafted." A New York Times writer described it last weekend as
"elegant and strange," and "full of graceful slow jams and bubbly club
Bubbly? Kelly's work reeks of in-your-face pedophilia chic. His
new single, "Ignition," implores: "Girl, please let me stick my key in your
ignition." On another track, Kelly dubs himself the "pied piper of R&B."
"Anything you want, you just come to Daddy," Kelly hisses.
If Kelly is the pied piper of R&B, Polanski is the pied piper of
cinema. He admitted openly in an interview last month with the Evening
Standard of London: "Even at school I had penchant for younger women. My
friends thought I was silly. . . . But I always liked them young, romantic
Like the actress Nastassja Kinski, whom Polanski seduced when
she was 15 years old.
And like 13-year-old Samantha Geimer (nee Gailey), whom Polanski
lured to Nicholson's mansion in the spring of 1977 with promises to
photograph her for a French fashion shoot.
Polanski plied her with champagne and Quaaludes before brutally
raping her in Nicholson's whirlpool. He was quickly arrested and charged on
six counts, including committing a lewd or lascivious act, perversion,
sodomy and rape by the use of drugs. After a plea bargain, he copped to
statutory rape and the other charges were dropped. While on bail, he fled to
Paris and never looked back. In his autobiography, Polanski defiantly
claimed that Geimer was a willing participant -- an assertion she
Geimer, now married and the mother of three, has recently
stepped forward to describe the scary assault: "It was a terrible thing to
do to a young girl." She insisted in an op-ed published last weekend by the
Los Angeles Times, however, that Polanski "should be honored according to
the quality of (his) work. . . . I don't think it would be fair to take past
events into consideration. What he does for a living and how good he is at
it have nothing to do with me, or what he did to me."
With all due respect to Geimer, our justice system cannot just
let bygones be bygones because she has moved on emotionally. Polanski and
Kelly's legal and cultural nose-thumbing are of a piece. They are predatory
males first, artists only after. Polanski has made a glorious living
precisely because he has never paid the consequences for what he did to
violate an innocent girl.
As for Kelly, perhaps he should follow in the untouchable
Polanski's footsteps: Fly to Paris, keep the bubbly flowing, and party on
for "art's" sake.